Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

St. Issey Auxiliary Unit

This page was last updated at 4:20pm on 11/5/13

Thank you for selecting information on the St. Issey Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base. The information below has been supplied by our Devon CIO Nina Hannaford.

Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information below is published from various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not listed below it does not necessarily mean the information is not out there but normally means CART researchers have not found it yet.

If you have any information on this patrol or can help with research in this area please do contact us.

St Issey is a village in North Cornwall bordered on the North by the River Camel.

From the very first meeting in Whitehall on July 1940 the Intelligence Officer for Devon and Cornwall (named Auxiliary Units SW Area) was Captain (later Major) J W Stuart Edmundson an officer in the Royal Engineers. He liaised with the regular army and received supplies and equipment and formed all the Patrols. He was assisted by Lieutenant (later Captain) John “Jack” Dingley who became IO for Cornwall in 1943 though he may have assumed the roll before that.

In November 1943 Devon and Cornwall were separated and  Edmundson was succeeded in Cornwall by Captain John Dingley and in Devon by Major W W “Bill” Harston who would remain in command until near stand down. At the end of Harston's command he would cover “No 4 Region” being the whole of the South West Peninsular and Wales.

The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.

After 1941 a “grouping” system was developed where some patrols within a demographic area would train together under more local command. St Breward was part of group 4 along with St Teath and St Issey under the group command of Lieutenant R Drew.

The area Commander was Captain Harry W Abbiss from Truro who controlled two thirds of the County.

Currently unknown

Sergeant William Henry Jonas
Thomas Henry Kestle and his brother
Joseph Charles Kestle who left to join HM Forces
Reginald W Osbourne
R. Masters
K C Rowe who joined HM Forces November 1942.

Please note this location is on private land

Currently unknown but the Defence of Britain database (DOB) recorded it in 2001 and noted the following: The bunker is still in existence today, and is in exceptionally good condition. Apart from the entrance tunnel having been removed, it is in as good a condition today as when it was built. This is the only operational base located in Cornwall to date [2001] that survives virtually intact.

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: St. Issey Auxiliary Unit Patrol members built their own operational base in a quarry. It was built with 9in concrete blocks and had both an entrance and exit tunnel. The base is rectangular in shape, measuring 18ft x 10.5ft and with a ceiling height of 6.5ft. The roof was constructed by placing lengths of railway lines 14in apart across the top of the walls. Timber was then placed between the lines, and 9ins of concrete poured on top to form the roof.

The entrance and exit tunnels were at least 15 yards in length and were 23ins wide by 32ins in height.
Camouflaged trap doors were constructed at the tunnel ends. The exit tunnel curves away to the right from the main body of the base and exists today [2001] in excellent condition [the trap door end has not yet been investigated].

The whole building, including tunnels, was then buried under soil and rocks from the quarry.

Various wooden fitments remain nailed to the walls, including the runners for a sliding door over the exit tunnel.

A ventilation pipe is in one corner with a chimney pipe in another. Apparently, the chimney exited through an old hollow tree.

A cupboard-type recess was built into one of the end walls - this measures 5ft wide x 3ft high x 3ft deep.
The base was fitted out with a stove and several bunk beds.

A plan, along with photographs taken in 2001 is currently held at English Heritage, Swindon.

Currently unknown

Currently unknown

Unknown but it is assumed they had access to the normal weapons and equipment seen here.

Currently unknown

TNA ref WO199/3390, Alwyn Harvey recorder for Defence of Britain Database. Hancock data held by B. R. A

If you can help with any info please contact us.