Meerhay Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Beaminster
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selecting information on the Meerhay/Beaminster Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base. The info below have been
supplied by various CART CIO's and researchers.
Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information below is published from
various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not listed below
it does not necessarily mean the information is not out there but normally means CART researchers
have not found it yet.
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The Meerhay patrol was part of Group 6. The Group Commander was Capt Laurence O Brown and he was aided by
Assistant Group Commander 2nd Lt J T Woodward.
||Date of Birth
|Sgt. John Wakely
|Pte. Douglas Hilton Perkins
||Joined HM Forces May 1943
|Pte. Victor Archibald C Downton
|Pte. Walter George Raymond
|Pte. Ernest James Raymond
|Pte. Albert Henry Higgins
|Pte. Francis George “Frank” Ivory
||Joined HM Forces circa 1942
|Pte. Stanley James Bale
John Wakely of Cherry Cott Farm was the first to be recruited and chose the other patrol members. George
Raymond, his brother Ernest, Frank Ivory, Stanley Bale from Axnoller and Doug Perkins were the initial members.
When Frank and Doug left to join the Army, Vic Downton and Henry Higgins, who both worked at Northfield Farm,
The Raymond brothers started a milk round in Beaminster in 1938 and two years later moved to Hewstock Farm on
Tunnel Road. John Wakely is commemorated by the John Wakely Memorial Trophy for Heavy Horses at the Melplash
SEE MORE IMAGES INSIDE THE BUNKER HERE
The original OB was in a disused Lime kiln in woods above Ebenezer Cottage. The patrol had to crawl through the
narrow opening to get inside. The remains of a brick built lime kiln are known to exist in the area, just off a
steep track, though it is not known if this was the one used by the patrol.
Later the Army built a typical “Elephant” shelter OB for the patrol close by. This had two rooms. There was an
entrance concealed by bushes, with steps down into the main chamber. At the far end was a small store, with an
escape tunnel made from concrete sewer pipes that also provided ventilation.
In April 2015 we went along to explore the base.
A photograph of the inside of the O.B. can be seen above. The man in the photo is Jim House. This was
a visit with George Raymond around 2006.
Drawings above produced by Douglas Beazer and used with his kind permission. Thanks to Martyn Allen for
The escape tunnel shaft.
The view the patrol would have had overlooking Beaminster and the edge of the
Inside the main chamber looking towards escape tunnel.
Inside the main chamber looking towards the entrance corridor.
The entrance corridor.
Observation Post/s: Currently unknown.
© Copyright Chris Downer
These included the Beaminster tunnel, a main route in and out of the area. Its demolition would have caused
chaos in 1940. Even 70 years later, with better cars and roads, the landslip that killed two motorists passing
through at the time, closed the tunnel for months for repairs resulting in major disruption to the whole area.
Mapperton House was also reconnoitred for demolitions, having been identified as a possible
location for a German HQ after an invasion.
The patrol trained locally on farm land owned by The Raymond brothers at Hewstock Farm. They practised felling
trees with explosives on a couple of occasions, in case they needed to block roads. The patrol members usually
operated in pairs during an attack, but would then split and return individually. George Raymond recalled coming
across two regular soldiers set as guards for the exercise while coming home. He managed to convince them that he
was a farmer on his way to milk the cows at this early hour and was commended by his patrol leader for doing so
successfully. This of course indicates that they were operating in civilian dress.
On one occasion, Frank Ivory, who was less familiar than the others with travelling across country, was making a
lot of noise trying to come through a hedge. Patrol Sergeant John Wakely lost his temper in the darkness and
shouted at him, only to discover that he was stuck and couldn’t get loose!
The patrol also attended a weekend course at the local Aux Units HQ at Melcombe Bingham for further training and
assessment. Frank Ivory borrowed Dr Hope-Simpson’s well known sports car for transport, which due to a late start,
was driven at a frenetic pace across the county. Since Dr Hope Simpson was a Quaker, pacifist and registered
contentious objector he was perhaps unaware why the car was being borrowed! At Bingham’s Melcombe they practiced
with revolvers and slept rough. They were taught how to silently despatch sentries. George Raymond remembers being
deaf for several days having done so much firing (no ear defenders on the ranges in WW2!)
John Wakely apparently attended a course at Coleshill
Each patrol member was issued with fighting knife, revolver and hand grenades. The advice was to use these as a
last resort as they would better survive by creeping away from a target. They also used plastic explosives, made up
into a string, just like sausages, so it could be easily wrapped around an object, like a tree or lorry axle.
George Raymond donated his battledress blouse (above) and side cap to Beaminster Museum in 2001. This is one of only two locations where a genuine Auxiliary Units
uniform can be seen on display (the other is the Parham Museum in Suffolk).
This super little museum has limited opening hours and is normally closed between November and March. Please see
their website for more details.
The 203 battalion badge was specific to Auxiliary Units in the south of England and Wales. The DOR (for Dorset)
and Home Guard badges were the same as were issued to other Home Guard units.
John Wakely’s widow donated his Aux Units lapel badge to Beaminster Museum. These were issued after stand down to patrol members. The HG badge was worn
during the war by members of the Home Guard while in civilian clothes.
(Uniform & badge photos by Martyn Allen, courtesy of Beaminster Museum, with kind thanks for their cooperation in aiding the photography session
and research into this patrol)
When the patrols were stood down, most of the equipment and stores had to be returned. In common with all the
patrols, a large jar of rum was part of the supplies. John Wakely said that it shouldn’t go to waste and took
several large swigs from it before it went!
George Raymond was the last survivor of the patrol, and celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary in 2012.
Steven Lewins, Douglas Beazer
National Archives WO199/3390, 199/3391
Jim and Margaret House of Beaminster
Remembering World War II: West Dorset at War, Bridport Heritage Forum 2005
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