Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Philleigh Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base

This page as last updated at 7:46am on 5/3/15

Thank you for selecting information on the Philleigh Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Cornwall. The info below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford with extra research by Alwyn Harvey. If you can provide any more info please emailcartdevon@gmail.com

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.

Philleigh is situated on the Roseland Peninsular next to the River Fal.

From the very first meeting in Whitehall in 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 though he may have assumed the roll before that.

In November 1943 Devon and Cornwall were separated and Edmundson was succeeded in Cornwall by Captain John Dingley and 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 Peninsular and Wales.

The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.

After 1941 a “grouping” system was developed where some patrols within a demographic area would train together under more local command. Philleigh was part of group 3 along with Redruth, Mabe, Perranwell, Truro, Perranporth, Newlyn East, Grampound, St Colomb, St Mawgan, Probus and St Denis. They were under the group command of Captain H W Abbiss from Truro along with Lieutenant F J Yeo and 2nd Lieutenant E K F Harte.

Captain H W Abbiss from Truro was also the area Commander for this and groups 1 to 4, covering two thirds of the county.

In 1945 Captain Abbiss was awarded the MBE (Military Division).

Currently unknown.

Sergeant Richard John Dingle of Ruan High Lanes
Corporal W. John Carbis of Trewarlas
Richard Charles Harris of Philleigh
William James Harris of Philleigh
Frederick J Harris of Portscatho
Charles Dunn of Penkevel
Harry Rundle of Philleigh
Peter Rundle of Ardevora
Robert “Bob” G Tall of Ruan High Lanes
J. Wesley Miners of Ruan High Lanes

Richard, Frederick and William Harris were brothers and Charles Dunn was Richard's brother-in-law.
Harry and Peter Rundle were brothers.
Wesley Miners was the post master in St Just in Roseland.

Cornish Auxiliers

Taken at Idless Woods 1944
Known to be a stand down picture of at least group 3 and the officers from group 2. Major Harston is in the middle of the second row with Captain Abbiss to his right.

The Operational base was located in a small copse surrounded by farmland on Trenestral Farm between the villages of Ruan High Lanes and Philleigh. The base was destroyed and the imprint filled in after the war. A pond has now been created in the area.

Site of the Philleigh Operational Base

Small copse concealing OB location

Observation Post: Currently unknown

The road through the village leads to the King Harry Ferry where there has been a ferry across the Fal since
medieval times. Targeting this would have resulted in a long detour around the Fal Estury.

King Harry Ferry crossing the River Fal

Like Stoke Gabriel Patrol in Devon, which was near to the River Dart, Philleigh Patrol was close to the strategically important River Fal. Any moored vessals would have been a target.

Philleigh trained with the nearby Patrols of Probus and Grampound at Porthpean under the command of
Captain Robin Williams who is remembered as a tall, dark, thin man full of life at enthusiasm.

They also had shooting competitions at the rifle range built by the Probus Patrol at Pomeroy Wood near Golden Mill.
Cpl John Carbis was known to have gone to Coleshill.

Currently unknown but it is assumed they had access to the standard weapons and equipment.

The patrol requested, and were given, an inflatable dingy and limpet mines for use on vessels in the River Fal. The Cornwall IO, Captain John Dingley, was aware that “some” Patrols had limpet mines but it is unclear if he sourced them from “official” Auxiliary Units supplies.

Interestingly Captain Gerry Holdsworth, an old colleague of Auxiliary Units founder Major Gubbins from his time in Section D and later in Special Operations Executive, had set up a SOE headquarters in “Ridifarne” by the nearby Helford River.

Again Stoke Gabriel Patrol in Devon were suspected to have access to limpet mines and again the nearby River Dart had an SOE presence.

In July 2006 a mechanical digger unearthed a number of hand grenades hidden in a hedge near Ruan High Lanes.

The farmer suffered minor chemical burns when he also discovered some “canisters of an unknown substance”. Destroyed by bomb disposal experts, this hoard could have originated with the Patrol.

A Second World War bombing decoy site was located at the nearby Nare Head. It was built as part of the 'N-series' of naval decoys to deflect enemy bombing from Royal Navy installations in Falmouth. This site functioned as both a 'Starfish' and 'QL' decoy.

The 'Starfish' decoy operated by lighting a series of controlled fires during an air raid to replicate a military or urban area targeted by bombs. The 'QL' decoy featured muted lights set out to reconstruct the railway at Falmouth Docks.

The nearby Tunaware Point and Tolverne were embarkation points for US services for D-Day.

OS New Popular Edition 1945-47 Sheet 190

TNA ref WO199/3391
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Alwyn Harvey's research for Defence of Britain database
“South West Secret Agents” by Laura Quigley

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