Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Marldon Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base

This page was last updated at 6:29pm on 28/8/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Marldon Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO Nina Hannaford. cartdevon@gmail.com

Devon is registered as area 16. Marldon is part of Group 4 along with Newton Abbot, Brixham, Stoke Gabriel  and Harberton. 

From the very first meeting in Whitehall on 13th July 1940 the Intelligence Officer for Devon and Cornwall (named Auxiliary Units SW Area) was Captain (later Major) J W Stuart Edmundson an officer in the Royal Engineers. He liaised with the regular army and received supplies and equipment and formed all the Patrols. He was assisted by Lieutenant (later Captain) John “Jack” Dingley who became IO for Cornwall in 1943.

In November 1943 Devon and Cornwall were separated and  Edmundson was replaced in Devon by Major W W “Bill” Harston who would remain in command until near stand down. At the end of Harston's command he would cover “No 4 Region” being the whole of the South West and South Wales.
The IO's were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.

After 1941 a “grouping” system was developed where various  patrols within a demographic area  would regularly train together under more local command.  Marldon Patrol trained with Newton Abbot, Brixham, Stoke Gabriel and Harberton Patrols under the command of Lieutenant (later Captain) Albert Smith along with 2nd  Lieutenant (later Lieutenant) Edward J C Linscott both from Paignton. Another Lieutenant Arthur Eversley-Green originally from Stoke Gabriel Patrol was discharged in 1943 due to ill health.

As all of the regular Patrol members have a joining date of October 1941 (apart from White and Worth who joined November 1942) this would appear to be a later patrol.



Sargent William Ernest Wills   DOB 16/8/1903 of Compton
Albert Stanley Dameral   DOB 23/7/1904 of Marldon
Frederick C T Kerswell   1912-1991 (see other information)
Tomas White   DOB 6/4/1905 of Marldon
Philip Alan Bawden  1909-1988 of Marldon
Henry Claud Buscombe of Marldron 1917-1997.
Sidney Worth DOB 14/9/1901 of Stantor Barton

 Click on image for larger version

Brixham, Stoke Gabriel and Marldon Patrols - Click on image for a larger view
Most likely taken at stand down. Centre is Captain Albert Smith, on his left is Lt Edward Linscott and to is right is (ex) Lt Arthur Eversley-Green.

Capt. A J Smith DOB 24/5/1900 (Lt 1/12/1941, Capt. 26/4/1944) of Torquay Road, Paignton. Group Commander at stand down and Lt Edward John Crews Linscott   DOB 8/3/1899   (2nd Lt 1/12/1941) of Kingshurst Drive, Paignton.

Could have been originally enrolled with this or Stoke Gabriel Patrol. Both were probably separate from any Patrol by 1942.

The 1941 electoral rolls shows all the above present in Marldon and nearby Paignton. The 1939 Kelly's Directory of Devon describes Marldon as being a small hamlet of around 100 houses 3 miles North of Paignton railway station. Some of the families are mentioned as residents.

The Operational Base is located in near Conqueror Woods. These woods are maintained by Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust which operates it as a woodland burial site. There is open access, pathways, seating and parking. Originally this would have been part of lands belonging to Stantor Barton.

David Best's description of the area at the time are: “In those days the road from Marldon to Torquay was still a country lane, in parts only suitable for single line traffic.... the only vehicles using the lane were a couple of army Bedford three ton lorries which arrived each day and parked near Gallows Gate. The troops would then carry bits and pieces of equipment and disappear across a couple of fields overlooking the [Tor] bay.... When the lorries failed to turn up I went ...to see what they had been up to but there was no sign whatsoever....
However some tracks led to a depression ….surrounded by Elm trees....
About 30 years ago [written in 2001] this depression on the hillside overlooking Torbay was filled in with hundreds of tons of infill and the land improved.”

During the mid 60's deep chasms appeared in the general area. Deep passages and many fissures in the rock were investigated.

View from Marldon Operational Base

View from the location of the Marldon Operational Base.

In 2005 Conqueror Wood was planted with oak, ash, hazel and Maple and shrubs.  When the OB was built it was within a small area of Elm Trees that were cleared possibly when the OB was filled in around the 1970's.

The present farmer of Stantor Barton has confirmed the location and the fact it was destroyed. During 1975 to early 1980 spoil from the new Hamlyn Way duel carriageway was used to fill in the nearby Stantor Barton's Quarry Park so the OB may have been filled in at the same time.

David Best of Marldon was a young lad when he witnessed “something pretty fishy going on”and he went to investigate. He describes the OB in a letter in The Herald Express: “we came across the hollow sound of a wooden cover below a carpet of leaves and vegetation and we managed to get the hinged cover up which revealed a vertical steel stairway with galvanised water tanks each side. Below this was a doorway which lead to a dark room.
We returned the next day with a torch and discovered that the Nissen shaped room was equipped with lighting and a telephone. There were bunks one side and on the other other a row of dustbins which were filled with hand grenades and other assorted bits of ordnance.“

Marldon Map, Devon

Map showing the old road from Marldon before the duel carriageway. Stantor Barton Quarry is in the top right corner and the OB was in the small wooded area beside it.

 

Torquay harbour and railway lines would have been possible targets along with a nearby fuel tank.
Originally, the small holiday camp at Marldon Cross housed the soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk. The camp was ringed with gun emplacements to protect the base and in corners of some fields some evidence remains.

In the early months of 1943 the Americans arrived at the camp and quickly built up to the reported 8,000 capacity. It is known that these US camps were targets for practice raids by other South Devon Patrols.
Though quite late, the patrol would have been aware of the huge amount of munitions collecting in the quiet leafy areas on the lead up to D-Day. A vast ammunition dump was located in the woods at nearby Berry Pomeroy.

Marldon Cartoon 1

Cartoon printed in local paper.

US Camp near Torbay

One of the many US Camps somewhere within Torbay. Not known if this is the Marldon Camp.

Shooting practice in Stantor Barton Quarry.

 

Unknown, but it is assumed that they would have access to the “standard” Auxiliary weapons of a Browning Automatic Rifle, a Thompson Machine Gun and two Enfield rifles.

Explosives included No 36 grenades, “Sticky Bombs” and Phosphorous grenades and each would have had a fighting knife.

Other equipment issued to the Patrols includes torches, lamps, candles, compass, water sterilization sets, picks, ration packs along with eating utensils and a gallon jar of Rum .

 

Frederick C T Kerswell (or Keiswell as he is recorded) is entered twice on the Nominal Roll.  The first entry records him as being transferred to 11th Devon Battalion Home Guard on 4th October 1943 but this transfer was cancelled. The second entry records his address as Fancy Cottage, Modbury. His registration number on both entries proves a Marldon address.

It is possible he moved from Marldon to Modbury and became a member of Flete Patrol.  

In his letter in The Herald Express 13th November 2001 David Best recalls, having found the OB :
“Although young ...we knew this was important stuff and we had the sense to leave the hardware alone but we do admit to snipping bits of fuse wire which we let off the next day to the cheers of our schoolboy audience.”

 

“Memories of Wartime Marldon” by David Best. Marldon Local History Society, The Herald Express 13/11/2001 for David Best's letter and Bygones, Cockington Bygones by David Read 

 If you can help with anymore info on this patrol please email cartdevon@gmail.com