Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base

This page was last updated at 12:20 pm on 23/12/12

Thank you for selecting information on the Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Norfolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.

The patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 11 which also included

Walsingham patrol, Alethorpe (Ailthorpe) patrol, Blakeney patrol and Cley patrol

CO Lt LN Brook
2nd Sgt JE Taylor

It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.

 Sgt A Scargill
  Cpl Bernard H Flint
  CAF “Anthony” Bailey (farm manager)
  Edward WC Davies (carpenter)
  HC Lewis
  Alfred Smith
  T Brock
  ? CT Coleman

This OB is on private property.

First OB, located in Thursford Wood, was replaced by OB near the stable block of Thursford Hall.

We were directed to what turned out to be the OB site by the property owner. The OB is situated in what is now a private garden, built right up against the brick wall separating the grounds of the Hall from the stable block and outbuildings.

The main chamber and entrance end wall intact; exit end wall collapsed. The emergency escape tunnel collapsed. The OB size is 5.50 x 3m and it is orientated NW/SE – 288ft ASL

Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol OB 1

It was accessed via a brick-built outdoor toilet that is still in place, albeit without its roof and missing the toilet bucket. The OB’s entrance doorway is in one of the privy’s sidewalls.

Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol OB 4

Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol OB 5

The interior walls of the curved corrugated sheets forming the main chamber are painted white, as is the brick wall near the entrance. The entrance doorway has a wooden frame, also painted white.
A ceramic vent pipe emerges at the bottom of the north-west corner.

A number of modern fertilizer bags stored beside the entrance doorway contain what appear to be rather large lumps of coal.

Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol OB 7

 

Roughly in the middle of the roof there is a small opening of approximately 75mm, marking the location where perhaps a 35mm water pipe would once have been put through the roof to emerge on the grassy mound outside. We were unable to establish what purpose it served. (left)

 

 

 

The U-bend of a larger cast iron pipe is lying on the floor near the exit.

Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol OB 2

The brick-built exit wall has collapsed entirely. Just outside it and set near the perimeter wall there is a weathered strainer post with a long nail sticking out of it, another similar post is lying on the ground nearby.

Thursford Auxiliary Unit Patrol OB 6

(Left) A 35mm water pipe (with an elbow) emerges from the ground nearby, first vertically and then running horizontally and leading towards (or into) the main chamber. The pipe’s upright section is intact, with the corroded remains of the horizontal section adhering to it. Another upright pipe of similar type emerges horizontally from the ground to about 1 metre high near the opposite end of the main chamber.

According to patrol member Anthony Bailey’s account (published in A Hoare) there used to be an emergency escape tunnel.

No traces remain visible on the ground. It is possible that the tunnel is still intact but made inaccessible, due to the collapse of the end wall of the main chamber. Also, the adjoining perimeter wall collapsed (and was rebuilt about 17 years), causing considerable disturbance of the adjoining ground.

Sept 2012: Thanks to a local resident, the patrol’s first OB has now also been found and recorded. The location is about 650 metres distant from the second OB site and lies 170 feet ASL. Considering that OB number 2 lies about 100 feet higher it can safely be said that the patrol wanted to make sure that their second OB would not be suffering from flooding as their first one soon did.

Thursford Auxiliary Unit First OB

As a 4-year old boy, Mr Tom Cushing watched with his older brother from their home, Laurel Farm (now home of the famous Thursford Collection), as a group of about 20 regular army soldiers crossed one of their cornfields in single file, heading towards the part of Thursford Wood known as Lawn Plantation. Curious, the two boys followed the soldiers’ trail some time later and they came upon a small 1.50 (5 feet) square dugout that was slowly filling with water. They revisited the woodland after several more days and found a new dugout about 20 metres away from the first. They also discovered and peered down the trapdoor but they did not dare go down the shaft. This was Thursford patrol’s first OB, described by patrol member Anthony Bailey. It is situated about 50 metres away from the road and about as far from a farm track that skirts the woodland’s edge. A clearly defined rectangular depression, situated right at the boundary between the Hall and Thursford Wood, is all that remains. In the 1940s, a fence would have run along this boundary where brambles now bar access.

Thursford Auxiliary Unit First OB 2

The OB was of a flat-topped design with earthen walls that were presumably stabilised with corrugated sheeting of which a small piece was found on the site. The depression is a good metre deep and measures 6.50 x 3.30 metres (20 x 10 feet) approximately. The OB’s roof has collapsed more than two decades ago. The entrance shaft appears to have been at one corner. The 7 metres (24 feet) long, doglegged emergency escape exit led out the opposite end, further into the woodland and away from the road, terminating beneath a rhododendron bush. (Above) Four sections of glazed ceramic vent pipes remain roughly in situ and one of the roof beams is also still in place, although very much deteriorated. The waterlogged smaller dugout found by the two boys only about 20 metres distant was probably intended to be used as an ammo store. No trace of it remains.

Our thanks go to Mr Cushing for taking us straight to the spot.

Observation Post/s: Currently unknown

Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway line.
From mid-1943: Snoring aerodrome.  Completed in summer 1943, it served as a base for Avro Lancaster IIs and de Havilland Mosquitos.

Locally around Thursford and at South Creake, and also at Coleshill. (Information from patrol member Anthony Bailey (in: A Hoare)

Sten or Thompson submachine guns, Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives and .38 revolvers plus a variety of explosives, detonators and fuses would have been standard issue.

According to an account given by patrol member Anthony Bailey (in: A Hoare), the patrol’s first OB was built by the regular Army and situated in Thursford Wood. Due to regular flooding it had to be replaced by another which was built by near Thursford Hall by the patrol members themselves.
The entrance is described as having been beside an outside lavatory seat and it had a trapdoor contraption. The OB contained a gas stove and a telephone and it had an escape tunnel.

About 17 years ago the perimeter wall separating the Hall from the adjoining property, the former stables, collapsed, and was rebuilt along the whole length of the OB and what we believe to be the route of the emergency escape tunnel.


A Hoare, Standing up to Hitler (2002), Stephen Lewins; CART CIO Northumberland, Jeremy Norman; John George Seaman (leader of Baconsthorpe Patrol, died June 2011)

We would like to thank Dr and Mrs Nolan of The Stables and Mrs Moodie of Thursford Old Hall for granting access onto their properties and many thanks to Mrs Green, The Old Coach House, Thursford, for pointing us in the right direction. Mr Cushing.
 

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