Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch

 

Wool - SD Out Station

This page was last updated at 12:32pm on 17/8/14

Report provided by Dr Will Ward. CART CIO for Dorset.

Type: Outstation
Call sign: Osterley 6
Date of Construction: unknown
Area: 16

Operator/s

The operator here was Albert James Speed, known as both Bert and James to different people, who was the local ironmonger. In this rural area this meant that he had a mobile shop visiting various properties as far as Lulworth in addition to a shop at Bovington camp and later another at Wool. He had been called up in World War One and having previously trained as a mechanic was due to serve as a despatch rider, but developed influenza during the 1918 pandemic and never reached the front.

Between the wars he was friendly with T E Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, who lived at Bovington in Clouds Hill cottage. They shared a mutual interest in motorbikes. He also experimented with crystal wireless sets with his brother.

He was issued with a set of binoculars, 7x50, made by the New York based Optical, Film & Supply Co, but marked with British naval markings. Auxiliary Units were equipped with a good deal of US sourced equipment bought in 1940 using Britain’s gold reserves. This may have been part of such a purchase. Bert had no other naval links.

He was particularly friendly with John Nichols the publican of Ship Inn, who may have been one of the network of runners or spies linked to each outstation. Both men would obviously have been well placed to be in contact with a large number of people in the course of their business, even after an invasion, without attracting suspicion. He is also remembered to have frequently whistled a short refrain in the years shortly after the war. "Dar did did e dar dar did did e daar daar". It has been speculated that this might have been a recognition sign with his contacts. Not whistling it might indicate something was wrong and to ignore him.

 Wool SD Outstation 1Wool SD Outstation 2

Bert Speed’s binocular case (Photos courtesy Diana Parry)

 Wool SD Outstation 3

Bert Speed’s binoculars marked with War Department Broad Arrow.

Wool SD Outstation 4

The binoculars were US made (as was much Auxiliary Units equipment), but in the this case they appear to have been manufactured for a Naval contract.

Wireless site/s

After the war, he showed his daughter the underground hideout after the war. This was in a small wood on high ground just south of his Burton Cross home. She did not go inside s was unable to describe the interior. Alf Ellis in his diary gives a map reference which is for the junction of the access road with the road from Wool to Owermoigne. This road is quite quiet as it does not directly lead anywhere, except to access the fields between the convergences of two main roads. The site of the OB is now occupied by a post war underground reservoir, which also needed to be built on high ground like the outstation. It is likely on an underground site like this that the aerial would have been concealed on the top of horizontal tree branches, with the feeder cable buried beneath a section of bark cut out for the purpose, then glued back in place.

Wool SD Outstation 5

The outstation was located in a dugout on top of a small hill, within the woodland just the right of the telegraph pole.

Wool SD Outstation 6

A reservoir now occupies the likeliest location for the dugout, at the top of the hill, concealed by mature conifer woodland.

Report provided by Dr Will Ward. CART CIO for Dorset.

Correspondence with Diana Parry and Yoland Brown
Additional information from Roy Martin, Alan Watson and Alan Brown
Alf Ellis information via Arthur Gabbitas
Site visit May 2014