Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch

 

Stone Cross - Special Duties Radio OutStation.

This page was last updated on 27/7/16

Thank you for selecting information on the Special Duties out station Stone Cross located in Sussex. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford.

Type: Stone Cross Out Station
Call sign: Currently unknown
Date of construction: Currently unknown.
Area: Currently unknown

At some time the the Special Duties Intelligence Officer of Sussex was Lieutenant Frank Oakey.

NETWORK:

A 1944 map of the Special Duties wireless network shows the central “Zero” (IN) Station for the network was at Reigate, Surrey.

                                                                      Original 1944 SD map.
This shows the 16 Sussex OUT Stations able to communicate to the (then) central IN Station at Rigate in Surrey.
Earlier in the war Stone Cross would have been linked to the IN Station at Heathfield Park, Old Heathfield in East Sussex. This was closed down in November 1943.



The “Key Man” of the OUT Station wireless site was Mr Edwin Trangmar Wadman from his home at “Priesthawes”.
His informers were Mr William Neil Allin of The Lamb Inn, Wartling along with others as yet unknown.

An undated interview was recorded by Wartling Local History Group with Mr William Neil Allin (1911-1980), landlord of The Lamb Inn from July 1939, just after his marriage to Norah.

                                                          Mr and Mrs Allin in the Lamb Inn 1952
                                                                  Photo courtesy of Alan Brown.

“I was approached by the head of this local organisation and asked if I would co-operate with them. That is how it
really started. Its really difficult – I'd rather not mention any names. I don't know whether I should.
It was an Eastbourne person who approached me and they'd got a wireless station in the place where he worked
upstairs and he sent out information.
Another place we went to was a big farm with a wireless set upstairs and they would have been able to transmit
information. We also went to this farmhouse several times for lectures. The Army came and gave us these lectures
about what we were to expect and what we were to do. When we had these meetings, there were twenty or thirty of us all turned up, but I didn't know where they came from. They must have been dotted about all over the area.

I had contacts with someone in Bodle Street and the head one at Eastbourne. There were also contacts at Stone
Cross (Edwin T Wadman at Priesthawes House near Stone Cross) and Normans Bay.
The idea was we would carry on with our work as if nothing was happening and then if there was any information
we could go to our next contact and inform them.

The one with the wireless station was in the Stone Cross area (there was also a contact at Bodle Street). A good
excuse to get to Bodle Street was to take the horse to the Blacksmiths and then they wouldn't expect anything.
We had secret places where we could leave a message.....and this reduced the risk of exposure.
The fellow from down the coast could quite easily come in and have a pint of beer and give me the wink and the
message could be left somewhere else. He was a “looker” on the coast.

All these people that I knew then are now dead. I don't want to divulge their names. There was just a single person
in each place, not a group. We had no secret hiding place. Their idea was that we would carry on working as
normal. That's what the Army told us, that the Germans would expect us to go on working.....

Being a Publican I had the local Home Guard always trying to get me to join in the Home Guard and they put
forward my name as a recruit; but I was sworn to secrecy and couldn't tell them what I was doing. They put my
name in several times but it was always turned down....I got rather unpopular with some of the Home Guard chaps.

One chap, a farm worker, was going to give me a hand with some corn carrying and when I asked him he said “no,
I wouldn't care to come and give you a hand”. That was because I wasn't in the Home Guard but you had to be so
secretive about it.
That was one of the most important things they stressed. If anything had leaked out they'd shoot you.
Wouldn't they ??”

                                                                            The Lamb Inn 1951
                                                                  © Copyright Peter Whitcomb

The pub is still open today. See more here.

Mr Allin remembers the “wireless station” being at Stone Cross.

This was operated by Mr Edwin Trangmar Wadman (1887-1972) from his home at “Priesthawes” which he shared
with his wife Janet and young family. He was a land tax Commissioner in 1938, well known local agriculturalist and
post war Justice of the Peace.

Mr Wadman was awarded an OBE in the 1963 birthday honours for his work as Chairman of East Sussex River
Board.

The family recalled to Historian Stewart Angell that every time Edwin went down into the dugout, his three dogs would sit down on the entrance hatch waiting for him to emerge. A definite compromise of secrecy !

Wireless site/s:

The Special Duties wireless site was situated at the operator Edwin Wadman's home “Priesthawes” near Stone
Cross. The wireless was hidden in dugout in the garden.

In his book “Secret Sussex Resistance”, Stewart Angell explains that the entrance was a earth covered hatch
leading, via a wooden ladder, to a 10 foot x 5 foot chamber solely constructed of wood. There was a table and chair
in the chamber and an emergency exit tunnel ran under the garden wall to a field beyond.
The wireless aerial ran up a large Elm tree in the garden.

Mr Wadman's son Andrew (Born 1925) recalled his roll to Stewart Angell. He stated he was to note down any troop
movements on the Stone Cross to Hailsham Road and put this information into a split tennis ball. He would then roll
the ball down one of the ventilation pipes into the dugout for his father to transmit.

                                    OS 1946 map showing Priesthawes circled and Watling arrowed.

                                            Looking towards Priesthawes. © Copyright Simon Carey   

Arthur Gabbitas
Dr Will Ward
British Resistance Archive.
Publication by Wartling Local History Group.
“Secret Sussex Resistance” by Angell
FreeBMD and various newspapers on Findmypast.
Sussex Agricultural Express 27/21920 recording the wedding of Edwin T Wadman to Janet B Vardy and their home addresses.
London Gazette 22/4/38 and 31/5/63
“Churchill's Most Secret Special Duties Branch” by Simak & Pye
Alan Brown
John “Patrick” Walker

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