South Walsham Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.
This page was last updated 20/11/13
Thank you for selecting information on the South Walsham Auxiliary
Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Norfolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers
Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.
The patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 5 which also included
Mautby patrol and
Wroxham (Bear’s Grove) patrol
And to a certain extent also Wroxham AU Scout Section, Beech House, The Avenue, Wroxham
Group CO Lt Harry Ward, Church Farm, Mautby
2nd GV Bowles
It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.
Sgt Edmund John Starkings (Farmer)
Cpl WJ “Billy” Gould (Nurseryman)
Brian L Evans (Shop assistant)
Leslie R Smith (joined patrol later)
Gillie J Starkings (Farmer)
Jack W White
George H Edrich (Auctioneer & estate agent)
What remains of the OB today forms one of the features of Fairhaven Water Gardens.
The information board beside the fenced-in structure explains that this is an old ice hole which was regularly
used until the early 1940s, when the estate grounds were used by the Home Guard for training. One of the garden’s
employees told us that they dug out part of the structure, the entrance and exit of which had collapsed by that
time. The garden opened to the public in 1975.
Until 1946 the Hall, woodland, water garden and the adjoining Broad were all part of the South Walsham
Estate. During the war the Hall and formal gardens had been used as convalescence home for officers and the
woodland and water garden were in use as a training ground for the Home Guard. Pleasure boats were sunk in the
inner Broad which was covered with barbed wire to prevent flying boat landings and tanks were hidden in the
According to John Edmund Starkins, the son of Sgt JE Starkings, the OB was discovered by the army and “that was
the end of that”. We were not able to establish when exactly this happened and if the patrol built a second OB at
another location. Mr M Gould, son of patrol member WJ “Billy” Gould, also knew about the OB’s location but not that
it had been discovered. He told us that a hollow tree stump was used to conceal the chimney, and that his father
had a case of hand grenades in the cupboard under the stairs and a .303 rifle and a sten gun in the wardrobe. He
also knew of the existence of the OB at Mautby.
The entrance has collapsed and exposed the end wall of the structure which consists of an underground Nissen
hut, with the end wall – constructed from corrugated iron sheets (painted white) - near the exit still in place.
A round depression in the ground above indicates that at least part of the emergency exit passage has collapsed.
A ceramic field pipe emerges (see below) from the ground by the rear corner and the shard of another lies
The start of a backfilled passage leading away from the end wall near the exit can still be seen in the
The wall near the entrance is missing and the ground in front of where this wall would have been has been
landscaped, forming a couple of wide steps leading down towards the opening. We presume that any traces of the
former entrance were removed by this landscaping.
(Above) Two upright railway sleepers, presumably used to hold in place the sidewalls or perhaps the end wall, or
both, are still in place (one on each side) immediately adjoining the exposed opening. Part of a badly corroded
flat corrugated sheet can still be seen against the sidewall. The end wall is missing.
Due to sand and soil backfilling the main chamber from both ends, the floor level is raised considerably, leaving
only a crawl space underneath the roof. (Below)
A round depression in the ground about one metre distant from the NE corner (near the entrance) indicates that
something else has collapsed here, perhaps a small storage chamber built into the side of the entrance passage.
Two footpaths lead right past the site which is marked as “Ice Hole” on the map that is handed out to every
visitor, and in order to prevent accidents it is surrounded by a wooden fence. The opening at one end of the
structure is blocked by a length of mesh fencing, preventing access to the interior.
The size is difficult to establish because of the landscaping which has removed all traces at one end of the
structure. We estimate that it would have been 3 x 5 metres and it is orientatied: NNW/SSE – 19ft ASL
Observation Post/s: Currently unknown
John Edmund Starkings, Acle (son of patrol member Sgt EJ Starkings); M Gould, South Walsham
(son of patrol member Cpl Billy Gould; Jean Hastings (daughter of patrol member GH Edrich). –> Personal
inverviews. Stephen Lewins, CART CIO Northumberland
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