Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

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  This meant that IO’s (Intelligence Officers) were withdrawn but Group Leaders were to remain who would take over the control of patrols until stand down the following year.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.

Van Moppe Scan 3

Van Moppe Scan 4

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. 

Van Moppe Scan 1

Van Moppe Scan 2

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Van Moppe Scan 6

Van Moppe Scan 7

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, Switzerland).

If you can help with any info please contact us.