Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Ryde Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated on 11/5/17

Thank you for selecting information on the Ryde Auxiliary Unit and their Operational Base on the Isle of Wight. The info below has been supplied by our internal archive and collated by our Founder & Webmaster Tom Sykes.

Ryde is a British seaside town and civil parish, and the most populous urban area on the Isle of Wight, with a population of about 32,250. It lies on the north-east coast.

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 Isle of Wight Auxiliary Units were part of Hampshire and in 1942/43 all the Auxiliary Units were organised into three Battalions – 201 Scotland, 202 The Midlands and the Southern Counties became Aux 203 Bn. GHQ Reserve.
After the reorganisation the patrols became part of No.14 Area (Hampshire and the Isle of Wight). Those on the Island were formed into two Groups 9 & 10. The Island Area Commander was Captain H.C.A. Blishen
He was also Commander of Group No. 9 [East] which included the RYDE Patrol, and was assisted by 2Lt. S. G. Taylor

The other Patrols with RYDE in Group 9 were:

NEWPORT No.1 (South) ARRETON (Robin Hill) SHANKLIN NEWPORT (East)
GODSHILL NEWPORT No.2 (WHIPPINGHAM) STENBURY MANOR/ROOKLEY
SANDOWN

1941.

Harry Plumbley - A dairy Farmer from Kemp Hill Farm, Ryde. EPEA 65/1
Harry G Mitchell - A Farm worker from Great Upton Farm, Ryde. EPEA 50/3
Fred J Morey - An Agricultural worker from Ashey, Ryde. EPEA 52/3
John H Mew - An Agricultural Labourer. 2, Osborne View, Upton,Ryde. EPEB 285/4
Harry E Calloway - A dairy Farmer from Alderm Farm, Ryde. EPEB 280/2
Stanley H Williams - A ship building draftsman from Gravelpit Road, Wooton Bridge. ERAE 73/3
George Russell - A market gardener and fruit grower and in 1939 he is listed as an air raid warden. Owner of Little Whitefield Orchard, Ryde. EPEA 21/1. He was awarded the Defence Medal.
Stanley Horace Draper - A dairy Farmer from Gatehouse Farm, Ashey, Ryde. EPEA 54/1

The patrol was probably stood down before September 1944 as it was not included in Major Hancock’s file that named 638 Patrol Leaders nationwide.

The Operational Base is located on Private Land near Ryde. It was last inspected by Tom Sykes in August 2016 and before that Rod Mitchell in July 2015.

The OB entrance from the adjacent field is now well hidden by a thickish hedge which has grown up since Rod was there more than 60 years ago when his father and his Aunties were the tenant farmers, though the barbed wire fence to keep people away from the site is still there inside the hedge.

The whole of the old OB roof is collapsed and none of the roof construction materials can be seen and what was the inside of the main chamber is mostly covered in the soil which has fallen in and the sides eroded.
 
In the main chamber area there a still a few pieces of the old metal bunks or beds but most are now buried given the amount of soil that has fallen in over the years.

Looking down over the base - Picture copyright CART Archive.

One of the end supporting walls. - Picture copyright CART Archive.

A pipe running down into the base. This was probably connected to an external water tank. - Picture copyright CART Archive.

Air vents. Picture copyright CART Archive.

There are a couple of glazed pipes sticking through the soil and also similarly two upright concrete block pillars situated diagonally at either side of the main chamber area.

What is not clear with the main chamber sides collapsed and so much soil fallen in actually how big the overall underground OB's main chamber was when constructed.
 
In addition Rod discovered two old glazed drain pipes sticking out of the soil near the main chamber, an old metal pipe laying at the side and interestingly two columns of concrete construction blocks sticking out of the earth either side of the main chamber.

(Image by Rod Mitchell) Shows part of Blast wall to right of picture taken from north to south position, with the left hand wall having the entrance to main chamber underneath. Note the space between the 2 walls is about 15 inches across so quite a narrow access from the adjoining field to the south though now all parts of the original OB site are partially buried under soil etc.


 
(Image by Rod Mitchell) This photo shows the other side of main entrance wall to the chamber with small crawl through entrance under. It is taken from inside the collapsed and partially soil etc filled (approx 12 feet) long chamber which runs in a west to east direction. The chamber seems to be about 6 feet across though it's difficult to assess as sides have also collapsed.

The Operational Base taken many years ago. - Picture copyright Ben Houfton/Adrian Searle.

This item caused some interest. It was located near to where the entrance shaft would have been. - Picture copyright CART Archive.

It may just be some agricultural rubbish but it could also be the remains of an entrance hatch mechnanism similar to one discovered at GHQ Coleshill. See below.

The shallow tray was used to fill with soil and vegetation from the forest floor and this would have concealed the entrance shaft. - Picture copyright CART Archive.

A model of how this might have worked showing a tree stump covering the entrance shaft. - Picture copyright CART Archive.

The view from the OB. - Picture copyright CART Archive.

A beer bottle found next to the OB. - Picture copyright CART Archive.

It is thought that there were plans in place to blow up Ryde Pier but it is unknown if this was a task for the patrol.

The whole beach area eastwards could have been used for German landing craft and tanks etc notwithstanding the access points in other parts of the island.

Wooton Creek would probably have been another strategic point of entry for the Germans as the main road level bridge (A3054 road) crossed Wootton Creek at Wootton and the A3054 road was (and still is) the main artery between Ryde and Newport.

The men used the local farmhouse kitchen to discuss training and look at the training notes.

Fred Morey recalls that Harry Mitchell couldn't shoot too straight when on exercise at SANDOWN Beach!.

It is assumed they were issued with the standard arms and explosives.

On January 20th, 1945, a significantly historical dinner was held at the Masonic Hall, Ryde.

Gathered together for the first time in five years were the majority of the members of the Island’s Aux Patrols.

A copy of the post stand-down dinner menu for that Saturday evening offers evidence of the men involved.
Headed '203rd (GHQ Res) Bn. Home Guard. Auxiliary Units’, it shows the area group commander was Capt H. C. Blishen MBE.

Patrol leaders:
Lt T. A. Cowley, Lt E. G. Rapkins, 2/Lt S. Taylor, Sgt H. Foss, Sgt J. Blackman, Sgt A. Newman, Sgt F. Buckett, Sgt C. S. Good, Sgt W. Buckell.

Additionally:
Cpl A. F. Le Maitre (admin), Pte C. E. Herbert (shown as musical director for the event).

Other persons named:
Col R. E. Pickering (guest), Lt Col F. H. Fernie (guest), Maj N.V. Oxenden (guest, HQ Auxiliary Units), Lt Col F. Nevill Jennings.

The following names appear as autographed signatures on the back of the menu:
L/Cpl Jack Riddell, A. F. Maitre, C. L...., R. C. Ward, H. R. Watt, Stan Williams, J. Kennedy, W. Buckell, T. H. Farnie, E. S. Barton, N. V. Oxenden, Edwardson, H. Blishen, A. Shearwood, R. Pickering, S. Thompson, C. W. Brannon, J. Blackman, A. M. Long, A. W. Bowden, B. Keegan, R. Casson, J. W. R...., Edward Raphine, C. F. Rayner.

It appears they then repeated the event the following year.

Pictures kindly supplied by John Riddell.



Defence of Britain database complied by Dr Will Ward, Rod Mitchell son of Harry Mitchell, Bill Ashby, Stephen Lewins, Isle of Wight County Press Online Article, John Riddell, Ron Holland.

If you can help with any info please contact us.