Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Staplefield Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 6:08am on 20/5/14

Information kindly supplied by Stewart Angell, author of 'The Secret Sussex Resistance' as well as our internal archive.

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.

 

The Staplefield Patrol consisted of seven members.

The Patrol Leader was Frank Baker, a farmer at Home Farm, Staplefield, who later went on to become the Mayor of Brighton.

The other members were close friends and associates of his.

They were Cecil Mills, a gamekeeper and bailiff, who lived in Handcross.

Les Moore, a milkman from Handcross.

Gerald Cummings, a cattle farmer in Bolney. Nora Mills, wife of ex-patrol member Cecil Mills, recalled how her husband had kept his involvement in the Auxiliary Units secret while the patrol was operational. She knew he was training with explosives, but thought he was part of the regular Home Guard. After the War he explained what he had been doing.

Aiming to place all Auxiliers in their patrols, CART has used the home addresses recorded on the nominal roll to include:
 
Frank R Baker of Sharpthorne, W G E Parsons of Haywards Heath, D D Davie, and Eric Cattermole of Haywards Heath

Though they could have been in a nearby patrol.

The video below was provided by atlas122155 a YouTube member. CART was not involved with the filming and did not have any knowledge of it taking place. CART would advise anyone wanting to view any Operational Base to ensure correct permission is obtained from the landowner.

 Staplefield Auxiliary Unit 2  Staplefield Auxiliary Unit 1

Staplefield Auxiliary Unit 3

Survey by Stewart Angell

It was built by local Canadian soldiers. They were used because it was known that they would be moving to another area after finishing the hideout, taking knowledge of its whereabouts with them, thus helping the site to remain secret. Frank Baker's youngest son David showed the author the exact location of the hideout. On entering the structure it soon became apparent that this was the best preserved example in Sussex, with the original bunk beds, shelving, a table and even coat hooks still in place.

The hideout was constructed on a solid concrete base with one foot six inches high brick built sidewalls. These low brick walls support the corrugated iron that is arched across to form the roof of the hideout. The only entrance to the hideout was beneath an earth covered wooden hatch. When lifted this revealed a brick built shaft with a ladder made up of scaffolding poles set into the brickwork. Beyond this two internal walls, both with locking doors, separate the main chamber of the hideout from the entrance shaft, at the eastern end, and the 75 feet long emergency exit tunnel at the western end.

Staplefield Auxiliary Unit 5

 

The main chamber contained the bunk beds and storage space for essential equipment along with an ingeniously designed drop-leaf table. One leg sat on the concrete floor while the other leg was made to be about a foot longer and supported the whole table by locating in a purpose-built socket in the floor. The three feet wide emergency exit tunnel ran out into the bank of a nearby pond. Its end also being concealed by an earth covered wooden hatch. Ventilation was provided by a network of four inch diameter glazed drainage pipes that came to the surface within the surrounding undergrowth. Although the hideout was built by Canadian soldiers it was the job of the men in the West Sussex Scout Patrol to camouflage its existence. Former member Sidney Gaston recalls back-filling soil over the hideout, taking great care to conceal the air vents.

 Staplefield Auxiliary Unit 6

Some of these had clay moulded around the end of the pipes to make them look like rabbit holes. The men placed rabbit droppings around the holes for extra effect. As a finishing touch small trees, bushes and general undergrowth was replanted over the top of the hideout. An escape tunnel is built into the rear of the chamber, its 75 foot long,3 feet wide and comes out at the bank of a nearby pond.

 

Staplefield Auxiliary Unit 7Staplefield Auxiliary Unit 8

In November 1994 the Staplefield Patrol's hideout reached celebrity status when it was seen by millions of viewers on 'Schofields Quest' as part of the author's appeal for information concerning the Auxiliary Units in Sussex.

For a detailed history of the Auxiliary Units in Sussex see Stewart Angell's book 'The Secret Sussex Resistance'.

Source of page text: Stewart Angell
Images provided by: REEF from 28 days Later.co.uk