Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch

 

Longhorsley SD Out Station

by Stephen Lewins, CART CIO for Northumberland.

This page was last updated at 3:02pm on 21/2/12

The village of Longhorsley had two Special Duties members who were to transmit via radio any information they gathered from the “Agents” members of the public trained in spying techniques and how to identify troop movements. Info was passed on to the SD members by “Dead letter drop” predetermined sites for leaving messages then transmitted from the Out Station to the main Zero Station where it would be forwarded to the relevant department.

Image by Sandra White

The radio was hidden in the old peel tower (above), now a private residence, and was accessed by entering the garage and using a secret doorway into a small room off the main garage. (See below) The aerial was hidden in nearby trees.

longhorsley sds hide

Charles Webb - SDS

 Rev-Father-Wright-SDS

The operators were Mr Charles Webb (above left) who was a solicitor and member of the Observer Corps (Master Observer) in charge of the Longhorsley Post. The other was The Reverant Father Wright (above right) who was also the Air Raid Warden, a good choice for cover as this gave him access to many places in the village and round about at times when others were in doors, no questions asked.

They transmitted to the Zero Station at Heiferlaw near Alnwick. The Duke of Northumberland’s estate manager lived in the house near the Zero Station and it is thought he was also involved with the SDS set up. Father Wright was also the Air Raid Warden in the village. Both men may have been “Agents” but this is impossible to prove. The Zero Station at Heiferlaw was implicated in the Rudolf Hess story and was supposed to be the site that transmitted info to him on his ill fated “Piece” mission.

Another “Y” Station Morse code decipherer was Harry Snowdon from Linton who had the job of listening into radio traffic sent in high speed Morse then record it and forward the codes to Blechley Park for decoding. He was supplied with an American National Radio HRO for this work.

All the above had no idea that the Auxiliary Unit set up had two patrols and O.B.s near where all this was going on, one at Netherwitton and a second at Paxton Dene close to Longhorsley village itself. None of the SD members or “Agents” or “Y” Station operators knew of each others existence. The only person who knew the whole picture was the Aux. I/O, who at this time was Captain Anthony Quayle.

A big thanks goes out to Bill Ricalton and his local history group for filling in the blanks about the above.