Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base

This page as last updated at 9:14am on 23/10/13

Thank you for selecting information on the Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Cornwall. The info & images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford. If you can provide any more info please email cartdevon@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.

Redruth is a town in the West of Cornwall and the one time mining capital of Britain. It lies on the route of the old London to Lands End trunk road, now the A30. Camborne and Redruth together form the largest urban area in Cornwall.

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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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. Redruth was part of group 3 along with Constantine, Mabe, Perranwell, Philleigh, Truro, Perranporth, St 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).

1940

Sergeant Eric Pearce, a draughtsman working at Climax Rock and Drill Company, a local engineering company.

Corporal John “Frank” Horler, an office worker at Climax.

Stanley J Whittaker, an engineer working at Climax.

Sidney P R Forder, foreman in charge of the tool room at Climax.

Clifford G Emmett, another worker at Climax.

R F Hosking, farmer of Grambler Farm where the OB was sited and his son Edwin R F Hosking.

Jack Green who was discharged to HM Forces in April 1943

Harry L Walker “returned” to 9th Camborne Battalion Home Guard.

The OB was built in 1940 by the Patrol, and consisted of a Nissen hut structure measuring 18ft x 12ft, built 10ft underground. It had two sections, with an entrance in one field and an emergency exit in an adjoining field. It was equipped with bunks and cooking equipment.

The OB was destroyed by fire some time after the war had ended. Local children had discovered the OB and set fire to some Molotov Cocktails they had found stored inside. Luckily nobody was injured by the blaze and the local Fire Brigade and the Bomb Disposal Squad from Plymouth were both called to the scene.
In 2000 all that remained was an indentation in the ground indicating the outline of the OB.

Today that too has been filled in and the field boundary wall reinstated.

Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1

Field boundary wall with Basset Monument at Carn Brea in the background.

Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol 3

Filled in site of OB looking towards Grambler Farm

Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

Gambler Farm

Orientation of OB: Orientated approximately East to West

Observation Post: Currently Unknown

Other physical remains nearby: Currently Unknown

Currently unknown but assumed targets in the area would have been the Redruth railway viaduct and the main A30 trunk road.

Stanley Whittaker remembered training with “the Commandos” at a bungalow in Carlyon Bay Road, St Austell.

It is assumed the patrol were supplied with the standard weapons and equipment. When interviewed in 2000 Stanley Whittaker remembered dynamite and plastic explosives that were stored in the OB and that they were issued with .38 Smith & Weston revolvers, Bren guns, Thompson sub-machine guns, “Commando” knives and knuckle dusters.

Ray Forder, the son of Sidney Forder, remembers a time when a cache of weapons suddenly appeared at the house and were stored casually in the spare bedroom.

He remembers a a Sten gun, a 0.22 Snipers rifle with telescopic sight, a 0.45 colt revolver, a black steel commando knife and copious quantities of ammunition. He often used the snipers rifle over the back wall of the house trying to hit rabbits.

Ray and his friend from across the road often “played” with explosives, fuses and bullets in the front yard, often scolded  for their antics by his Mother.

The weapons had disappeared by the time the family moved to St Just in May 1944.

Sergeant Eric Pearce was awarded the Defence Medal at Stand Down.

Joan Whittaker (nee Davey) was a young messenger girl in the Civil Defence when she met her future husband, Stanley Whittaker.  Her father, having returned from a walk one Sunday, wanted to know what type of fellow the young Joan was associating with. His walk had taken him along Sandy Lane (next to the OB) just as the Patrol were testing some explosive timings on some large rocks close to his path. No harm was done, other than fright, so all was forgiven.

Stanley Whittaker left the Patrol on 25th October 1944 when he was called up to join the Royal Corps of Signals. Spending some of his service at the ULTRA establishment at Bletchley Park he was demobilised on 15th September 1947. 

Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol 5

Stanley Whittaker during his time in Royal Signals (Copyright the Whittaker family)

Ray Forder, the son of Sidney Forder, cannot remember his father in uniform but his mother would often mention he had a “rendezvous at a secret hole in the wall in the hills above Redruth”.

Corporal Horler was the Scoutmaster for the 3rd Redruth Scouts during the war and Sergeant Pearce appears to have played Rugby for 9th Battalion Home Guard.

Redruth Auxiliary Unit Patrol 6

The Climax Rock & Drill & Engineering Works 1938

The picture shows the Engineering works were many of the Redruth Patrol were employed. Early in the war the works started making components for both the Vickers and the Bren guns.

Alwyn Harvey and his work on The Defence of Britain Database
TNA reference WO199/3391
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Joan Whittaker and memories recorded by Kate Langdon on BBC WW2 People's War.
Ray Forder and family.
English Heritage.

If you can help with any info please contact us.