Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch

 

Chirnside 1A - Special Duties Radio Sub OutStation at Axminster.

This page was last updated at 10:48am on 21/12/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Special Duties sub out station known as Chirnside 1 located at Axminster. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford.

Type: Sub-Out Station
Call sign: “Chirnside 1A”
Date of construction: Currently unknown.
Area: 17

The Intelligence Officer (IO) for the Special Duties Branch of Auxiliary Units covered the South West, including Somerset and Devon.

The initial Intelligence Officer for the whole area was Captain Coxwell-Rogers M.C (his name was Cecil Mein Probyn Dighton and he assumed the name Coxwell-Rogers during World War 1) and for a time was based at 13, Mount Street, Taunton. He was in the Gloucestershire Regiment and was given the honorary rank of Captain when he relinquished his commission in January 1944 due to ill health.

Coxwell-Rogers illness meant that in 1942 he was succeeded by Captain Edward (Ned) Fingland, who took over temporarily while his predecessor was hospitalised. By late 1943 the IO was Captain Arthur Douglas Ingrams from the Axminster area who was operating “Chirnside 1” and was replaced by Captain E C Grover in 1944 after Ingrams was sent to Norfolk then the Middle East.

Sergeant Alfred Ellis of the Royal Signals was the Sergeant covering the Buckland St Mary (“Chirnside”) networks along with Cheddon Fitzpaine (“Golding”) and Winchester.(“Omagh”) networks.

Networks:

A 1944 map of the Special Duties wireless network shows the central “Zero” (IN) Station for the “Chirnside” network was at Castle Neroche, Buckland St Mary, Somerset.

This had links to the other Out Stations of the network at: “Chirnside” 1, Bewley Down, (and sub Out Station at 1A Axminster), 2 Widworthy, both in Devon and 3 Puriton (and the sub Out Stations at 3A Spaxton and 3B Brent Knowle), 4 Puckington and 5 Edgarley in Somerset.

There were also links to the “Golding” network at Cheddon Fitzpaine Zero Station in Somerset and the “Osterley” network at the Blandford Zero Station in Dorset.

Due to a communication problem, messages from “Osterley 1” at Hawkchurch (and sub Out Station “1A” at Lyme Regis) and “Osterley 2” at Bridport went through “Chirnside Zero” and were forwarded to “Osterley Zero”.

Original 1944 SD map with locations added.

This map was produced by Major RMA Jones (Officer Commanding AU Signals) in 1944. In an interview in August 1997, Lt/Cpl Arthur Gabbitas (AU Signals) states he believes it to have some inaccuracies.

The Sub OUT Station at Axminster would have communicated with “Chirnside 1” at Bewley Down around 5 miles away and so on to “Chirnside Zero” at Buckland St Mary.

Operator/s:

This station would have been operated by a civilian(s). People who had occupations which allowed them to travel around the area and interact with people without attracting suspicion were regularly recruited. Other sub OUT Stations were manned by Doctors, Clergymen etc.

Wireless site/s

The exact site is currently unknown. The only information to date is that the Special Duties wireless was concealed in an attic in Axminster. This could have been in a private house or business.

OS sheet 177 New Popular Edition 1946

In an interview of 1997, Lt/Cpl Arthur Gabbitas recalls the difficulty the AU Signals had when maintaining stations in a more urban setting. Delivering and changing heavy batteries regularly without arousing suspicions of watchful neighbours must have been a challenge.

Please contact us if you can help locate where this wireless station would have been.


Arthur Gabbitas
British Resistance Archive.
Chris Perry
David Hunt.

If you can help with any info please contact us.