Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch

 

Golding 0 - Special Duties Radio IN Station.

This page was last updated at 8:39am on 14/11/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Special Duties Zero station known as Golding 0 in Somerset. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford.

Type: Zero Station and Meteorological Hut
Call sign: “Golding Zero”
Date of construction: Unlikely to be before mid-1942.
Area: 17A

MILITARY LIAISON

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 Cheddon Fitzpaine (“Golding”) networks along with Buckland St Mary (“Chirnside”) and Winchester.(“Omagh”) networks.

A Mr Lloyd is also recorded as being connected to “Golding”. He is simply recorded as “civilian staff” on a list of Beatrice Temple's (ATS) contacts but it has been suggested this was Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Lloyd who was General Officer Commander-in-Chief of Southern Command.

NETWORK/S

A 1944 map of the Special Duties wireless network shows links from Golding Zero at Cheddon Fitzpaine to Chirnside Zero near Buckland St Mary along with links to Golding 1 (West Hill), 2 (Pinhoe) 3 (Hemyock) and 4 (Wiveliscombe).

“Golding” would have communicated to local army headquarters (HQ 8 Corps / HQ South-western Command) at the nearby Pyrland Hall by GPO land line. Hestercombe House being the rear HQ. It is also thought that there was a telephone link to Norton Manor Camp at Norton Fitzwarren.

The phone number for Golding was 3434 extension 70.

OPERATOR/S

The original “Golding Zero” Meteorological (“Met”) Hut and later dugout was operated by 3 women from the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). The women would have been moved around over time but known operators were: Mary Alexander, Priscilla Badgerow and Airlie A Campbell along with maybe Ann Gunter at some time.

The Cheddon Fitzpaine rector, Reverend Christopher Graham OBE, ME, RN (retired), who's daughter Gertrude R Graham (2nd Subaltern ATS) was a Special Duties operator elsewhere, is recorded as a contact for “Golding”. It appears the family often entertained the ATS officers.

Mary Alexander and Priscilla Badgerow both visited the (IO) Ingrams family home, “Selah",signing the visitor book. Next to one entry in 1943 Ingrams noted “ATS Signals officer Special Duties Auxiliary Units GHQ Home Forces. Working with my unit at “Golding”.

Beatrice Temple (ATS) kept a wartime diary and the first mention of Taunton is on 29th June 1942 where she records a trip to Taunton in her new car. After an overnight stay she checks in with IO Captain Coxwell-Rogers and “MM” [maybe Adrian Monck-Mason of Charing, Kent]. She visits the HUT and chooses a billet.

The next visit on 12th August 1942 she visited the site and a farm as a possible billet “only possible if an Orderly is provided”. Meeting Captain B H Tracey and “Mr” Lloyd.

This sounds like it was quickly organised as by the 15th of August she returned to Taunton “re: orderly to be attached” and after lunch with Coxwell-Rogers she went “up to Brown”. [The diary of Alf Ellis (Royal Signals) records that Alf took a “J” (code name) Brown to Taunton for tests in July 1942 so this could imply she was going to see him]

This obviously did not run that smoothly however as only the following day she records “everything going wrong in Taunton”.

By August 20th “Capt Buckle (Station Area Quartering Commandant) and assistant inspected whole accommodation – passed stable for Rest Room and mess but not for sleeping. Alma [Hildyard] returned in 3-ton lorry with masses of furniture – curtains etc – distributed to rooms.”

The billet chosen was Volis Farm. This is a five minute walk down Volis Hill to the Met Hut which is a two minute walk across a field to the dugout.

Volis Farm

November 13th 1942  “Priscilla + Airlie at Hut, Mary on leave.”

On January 3rd 1943 Temple records she “Went to Taunton (Capt Coxwell-Rogers) – supper with Capt Fenwick + Capt Strangman.” Captain Ian Fenwick was the Somerset “Operational Branch” Intelligence Officer. This meeting proves, in Somerset at least, that the Operational Branch IO and Special Duties Branch IO had knowledge of each other.

By March 18th 1943 her visit records “All 3 at Hut”

Priscilla Badgerow and Mary Alexander at “Golding”

 

 Priscilla Badgerow and Mary Alexander at “Golding”

 Airlie Campbell at “Golding” 1943

April 14th 1943 “Taunton – visited both places of duty with Hazel”. This seems to be the first mention of two sites.

November 21st 1943 “Major Forbes called and drove BT [Temple] to Taunton through fog and rain. Lunched with the Fingland’s (he goes to Norfolk on Thursday 25th) then visited AB in zero hut for an exercise”. This is the first time she calls it a “ZERO” station.

January 30th 1944 “To Taunton….Met new IO Captain Ingrams – very ineffectual.”

 

 

 

 

Airlie Campbell


Beatrice Temple described her as “delightful”.
At some time around the middle of 1943 Airlie was transferred to Hollingbourne Zero Station in Kent where she met and married Clive Gascoyne in January 1944. She left in May 1944 expecting her first child.

Clive was a Auxilier from a operational patrol in the Sittingbourne area of Kent. A story is told that at their first meeting she pulled a gun on him when he discovered the zero station and descended down to investigate.

WIRELESS SITE'S

Looking towards site beyond the Ha-ha

The “Golding Zero”station dugout was built on the edge of woods above Hestercombe House, Cheddon Fitzpaine, near Taunton, the house and gardens being open to the public.

Hestercombe-Cheddon Fitzpaine Auxiliary Unit 1

Standing on what could be the center of the dugout

The chamber (or chambers) appears to have been filled in and is inaccessible. According to Mr Mead, who farmed the land and recorded the site for the Defence of Britain database, by 1995 the chamber was filled in and the entrance shaft (2 x 2 feet square) was covered by a slab. He also recalled an aerial cable running up a nearby tree.
The ventilation pipes which are visible on the surface (discovered to date) seem to point in towards the central area pictured above. A single (to date) ventilation pipe appears to point in a different direction which may indicate a second chamber but may simply be due to ground movement.

Top of filled in or buried concrete lintel

As this is located where the land starts to drop away this buried lintel could be the top of some form of escape tunnel.

Join of two ventilation pipes

Hestercombe-Cheddon Fitzpaine Auxiliary Unit 3

Two Ventilation Pipes

Hestercombe-Cheddon Fitzpaine Auxiliary Unit 4


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ventilation pipe at far west of mound encased at one end with hollow concrete blocks.

THE MET HUT

Looking in towards the site of the “Met Hut” site.  

 

The Met hut was known to have had a fenced enclosure around it so we assume the photos taken of the ATS women were taken in this area with the fence behind them.

 

According to Mr Mead, who's family farmed the land and owned Volis Farm and recorded the site for the Defence of Britain database, it was a wooden hut sited on a concrete platform. He recalled that the two sites were linked by an underground cable that ran along the north side of a stone wall.

 

When he recorded the site in 1995 he described the concrete platform as 33 x 13 feet and 1 foot high, to the south of a high stone bank. The bank can be seen behind Mary Alexander. 

1946 RAF Aerial Photograph showing the Met Hut surrounded by a rectangular enclosure.
Somerset Heritage Centre (CPE/UK/1944 frame 1428)

The Met Hut and the rectangular enclosure can be seen in this RAF aerial photograph, taken post war, in the corner of the field between the field boundary bank and the road.

Arthur Gabbitas
Alf Ellis
Beatrice Temple’s diary
DOB database recorded by R W Mead
James Campbell Gascoyne
“Churchill’s most secret Special Duties Branch” by Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye
“Chirnside 1” by Hugh May, A. Blackmore, D.Hunt and T.Walford
Chris Perry
Information supplied to CART by Donald Brown author of “Somerset V Hitler"
Somerset Heritage Centre

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