Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

St. Blazey Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 8:16am on 12/5/13

Thank you for selecting information on the St. Blazey Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base. The information below has been supplied by Nina Hannaford, CART's CIO for Devon.

St Blazey is situated 3 miles East of St Austell and 1 mile North of the port of Par with its harbour.

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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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 Blazey was part of group 5 along with Fowey under the group command of Lieutenant Arden Harris

The area Commander was Captain G H Sergeant from Liskeard.

Winter 1940

Lt Arden Harris, St Blazey
Corporal Leslie Dyer of Bethel
Thomas J Colliver, St Blazey a maintenance engineer and a keen radio maker.
Reginald Grose of Mount Pleasant, St Blazey
Thomas Kittow, St Blazey came from a family of Butchers
Ernest Williams,, St Blazey
Bill “ Spider “ Crocker, St Blazey a railway worker. Knew First Aid.
Ronald “Denis” Broad, discharged to HM forces, worked as a Monumental Mason.
Percy W E Barter of St Blazey. Discharged to FM forces Jan 1943

Also maybe William E Northcott of Par and Clarence Vian who joined as late as April 1944 at the tender age of 17.

The Operational Base is on PRIVATE LAND and was accessed by the kind permission of the owner.

The entrance shaft leads into an rectangular entrance tunnel made of corrugated iron supported on a wooden frame work. One wall was painted Magnolia ! The tunnel is approximately 3ft wide and 6 ft long and without debris underfoot would have had a height of 6ft.

St.Blazey OB 1
View from entrance shaft looking down tunnel to where the main body of the OB would have been. Small chamber is on the left at the end of the metal sheeting.

St.Blazey OB 2
Showing state of wooden frame support looking towards entrance on left.

To the left at the end of the tunnel is a small area measuring 6ft X 4 ft., Raised higher than the floor of the tunnel it is about 2ft high making a block built chamber with a corrugated iron roof again supported by a timber frame. In the far right corner a metal pipe exits the ceiling. There was no obvious evidence of this pipe above the ground but the whole area was “spongy” underfoot.

St.Blazey OB 3

Looking into the chamber from the end of the tunnel.

St.Blazey OB 4

The main extent of the chamber showing the pipe exiting the ceiling on the right.

This COULD have been a storage area for explosives with a possible ventilation pipe.
The main body of the Base has collapsed leaving loose voids in metal and block debris.

St.Blazey OB 5
Main body of OB

It is not obvious where any escape tunnel could have emerged from. (see further information)

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: Entrance shaft is vertical and without debris at the bottom would have been around 7 ft from ground to tunnel floor. There are no remains or evidence of a ladder. The landowner remembers the hatch being changed very frequently.

St.Blazey OB 6

Entrance shaft

Orientation of OB: North to South

Observation Post: Unknown, though the best location is assumed to be further up towards the brow of the hill offering more of a vantage over St Blazey and to the coast at Par beyond.

Other physical remains nearby: Slightly uphill and to the South of the OB a large deep pit had been prepared. This was unlined and today is uncovered. The pit is approximately 6ft x 6ft and around 5ft deep and COULD have been the start of a weapons store. Lack of visibility makes an Observation Post at this location unlikely.

St.Blazey OB 7

Defence of Britain Database has the Operational Base recorded as a Nissen hut construction made from corrugated iron.......

One room measured 20ft by 8ft and was used as living accommodation.

This housed four bunks made from timber and wire netting along with some crude chairs and a table.
The rest of the information on the Operational Base and its location is thought to be inaccurate though it does mention a second small chamber.

The present landowner remembers the OB was built by the Army along with help from his father. The first attempt by them was to dig down and join up with an old mining Adit ,close to where the base is now, and use that as a base. It is remembered that this proved too difficult and they gave up. Without proof it is difficult to say whether they did link up to form some form of escape “tunnel” ?

The present owners father built a large shed fairly close to the OB. He intended it to be used as a chicken shed but the Patrol met more here than at the OB.

The owners father had worked in mining in South Africa and as he (and his 7 year old son ) were well aware of the patrol and OB on their land I wonder if his knowledge of explosives could have been utilised. The present owner recalls being given various “thunder flashes” as a lad to be used as fireworks and to celebrate VJ Day.

Within the area are two ponds that are the remains of china clay workings. The banks and troughs along the second larger pond were used as a rifle range by the Patrol. The ponds are private and now used for angling.

St.Blazey

Rifle range was in the vicinity of this pond.

Main rail line leading to and from the port of Par. Possibly Par Harbour and possibly the main road leading out of the town of St Austell towards Liskeard and heading East out of Cornwall.

Training area used by the St.Blazey Auxiliary Unit Patrol

The Old Forge.

According to the Defence of Britain Database training for the Patrol was carried out in the area of “Old Forge” near to Rock Cottage. North of Prideaux Wood. This is right next to the railway line, very close to a stream and has many small mine shafts in the area ideal for storage.

Regional training took place at Porthpean in St Austell Bay. It was ran by Captain Robin Williams who is remembered as a tall, dark, thin man, full of life and enthusiasm.

There were weekend training courses for setting explosives and grenade throwing.

Unknown, though the land owner remembers explosives and weapons being delivered by the Army under the cover of darkness.

As a 7 year old lad he was given the task of transporting weapons and explosives up the slope to the Operational Base using his “Dilly” (Go) Cart.

It is assumed the patrol had access to the standard weapons.

Nothing currently.

Mr and Mrs John Rundle, Mrs V Bluett, Alwyn Harvey (DOB). Stephen Lewins CART CIO for Northumberland.

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