Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Meerhay Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Beaminster

This page was last updated at 7:47am on 3/5/15

Thank you for 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.

If you have any information on this patrol or can help with research in this area please do contact us.

 

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.

 

1940/41.

Name Date of Birth  Occupation  Notes Died 
Sgt. John Wakely 19/3/1916 Farmer   1994
Pte. Douglas Hilton Perkins    29/3/1910  Joined HM Forces May 1943  
Pte. Victor Archibald C Downton     28/5/1913  Farm worker    1997
Pte. Walter George Raymond   23/12/1912 Farmer   2015
Pte. Ernest James Raymond   14/2/1915 Farmer   2001
Pte. Albert Henry Higgins   17/12/1909  Farm worker     
Pte. Francis George “Frank” Ivory  11/1/1919  Builder   Joined HM Forces circa 1942 2000
Pte. Stanley James Bale   12/7/1918 Farmer   1987

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, replaced them.

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 Show.

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.
 
Meerhay Auxiliary Unit Patrol - Beaminster 

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 arranging.

The escape tunnel shaft.

The view the patrol would have had overlooking Beaminster and the edge of the coast.

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 House.

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
www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/celebrating/9732165.The_golden_wedding_of_George_and_Eileen_Raymond/
http://www.dorsetlife.co.uk/2005/05/beaminster-at-war/
http://www.hannfamily.org.uk/hannfamily-o/p119.htm#i26448
http://www.bridportnews.co.uk/news/10149500.display/

If you can help with any please contact us.