Worcestershire Group Leaders and the Van Moppes
This page was last updated at 7:23am on 16/2/14
Thank you for selecting information on the Worcestershire Group Leaders and
the Van Moppes. The info below have been supplied by CART volunteer Paula Sykes and Michael J. Russell.
Research into this is still 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 or can help with research in this area please do contact us.
Group Leaders were appointed from the local Home Guard (approx 1941) and worked together with the Intelligence
Officers to arrange patrol activities and later would arrange competitions between patrols. The best patrols
were selected for finals that were held at Coleshill.
In 1944 a document was issued (possibly from Coleshill that Army personnel in GHQ Auxiliary Units had to be
reduced. This meant that IO’s (Intelligence Officers) were withdrawn but Group Leaders were to remain
who would take over the control of patrols until stand down the following year.
There is some evidence that Thurston Holland-Martin from Overbury Court was given a senior position within the
Worcestershire Auxiliary Units. He may have had an unofficial role as Group Leader as well as being the first
Patrol Sergeant at Overbury.
However, there is clear evidence that two diamond merchants (with Dutch ancestry), Lewis and Edmund van Moppes,
were appointed the roles of Group Leaders for Worcestershire Auxiliaries in approximately 1941. The brothers
were members of the Home Guard and in 1941 were listed as Lieutenants in the 7th Worcestershire (Malvern) Battalion
whose operational are included Ombersley, which is the area they currently resided in.
The brothers were said to be heavily involved in retrieving the Dutch industrial diamonds from Amsterdam before
German forces invaded in May 1940. More information on this operation can be found in “Operation Amsterdam), although the van Moppe’s names have
been changed. The Dutch diamond merchant Drukker, who like Van Moppes was a ‘sightholder’ at DeBeers, asked Van
Moppes to collect the sight they had already paid for but could not collect without the risk of the goods falling
into German hands. This is what they did. They kept the goods until the end of the war and then duly transferred
them to Drukker in Amsterdam.
After this successful mission, it was thought best that the brothers should be relocated as far away from the
British coastline as possible. So their business was moved to Lower Wolverton, nr Peopleton at Wolverton
Hall. The West Midlands was also home to war materials manufactures which was also another factor in the van
Moppe’s moving to Worcestershire.
The brothers were provided with bodyguards who worked under the cover of general members of staff at the
hall. The diamond processing was carried out in the house and many local people were employed to carry out
the production work.
The brothers met Intelligence Officer Captain John Todd by chance in 1940. Edmund, the youngest brother,
met Todd whilst playing Bridge in Droitwich and mentioned that he was wanting a more challenging role that that of
his current one in the Home Guard. Todd suggested that they met on another occasion in the Raven Hotel in
Droitwich, as he had a more suitable role for Edmund. They met as agreed and after signing the official
secrets act, the role of Group Leader was proposed to Edmund. After accepting this offer Edmund suggested
that his brother Lewis would also be interested.
The brothers were given the code names Castar and Pollux, which may have been their code names for their
Amsterdam diamonds mission, although Edmund was awarded the nickname “Gug” by the Aux members. Wolverton Hall
was made the HQ for Worcestershire Auxiliary Units. Training exercises were held here and patrols would
report for their instructions on a regular basis. It is said that a tunnel still exists at the hall, which
leads to cellars into the garden. A good way of escape in the event of an invasion!
Roger Smith from Commandary Farm was the first Patrol Sergeant of the Auxiliaries and was promoted to Second
Lieutenant in 1943. He became Group Leader for Broadheath, Claines and Crowle patrols. At this time
Lewis van Moppe became Captain (the equivalent of IO for Worcs) and Edmund became a full Lieutenant and Group
Commander. He would look after Alfrick, Lenches and Overbury patrols.
A Quarter Master Sargent was appointed who would assist the van Moppe’s and Roger Smith. His name was
Sergeant Dowe who lived at Wolverton Hall and also looked after the van Moppe’s accounts.
The documents above and below were found Michael J. Russell whilst tidying up for a deceased friend who was
something of a military enthusiast. These include his military ID, certificates indicating he was an explosives
specialist, a volume of Military Engineering-Demolitions 1942, a detailed hand drawn map of an area near Droitwich
with railway and canal bridges marked, presumably for possible demolition. And one or two other documents from very
senior military personnel giving him authority to move unenpeded and to use E Petrol coupons. Edmund died in 1988
and his son Nicolas was killed in an aircrash in 1979 aged 42. As yet CART has not been able to establish
if there are descendants.
The Mercian Maquis by Bernard
Lowry & Mick Wilks, CART files, DoB, documents from Michael J. Russell, Jean Freinhofer
(formerly CEO of L.M. Van Moppes & Sons SA, Geneva,
If you can help with any info please contact