Wroxham Auxiliary Unit Scout Section
This page was last updated at 5:09pm on 9/1/12
Thank you for selecting information on the Wroxham Auxiliary Unit Scout
Section and their Training Base in Norfolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux
researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.
There were a dozen or so men in the patrol, including a Lance Corporal from Great Yarmouth, a clerk, and Capt
Woodward’s driver, Mr Curtain. All were from the 2nd or 7th Battalions of the Norfolk Regiment. They were highly
trained in the use of explosives and in unarmed combat and did not need to go to Coleshill for any further
training. The Wroxham Scout Patrol did not include any Royal Engineers.
Lt Percy Pike/Pyke - son of a local garage owner
Sgt – name not known
Cpl Leslie Long - a hairdresser from London (Op Bulbasket - executed by German army on 7th July 1944)
Pte Victor Owen "Chalky" White, London (Op Bulbasket – executed by German army on 7th July 1944)
Pte Alfie Barffe
Pte Sid Mace
Pte Bob Butcher
Pte "Nobby" Clarke
Pte Thomas “Tom” Herbert Colquitt – ex LDV/Home Guard, from Widnes, Cheshire (13 Aug 1922 – 29 May 2010)
Pte Johnny Watson ?? http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Norfolk/MarshlandSmeethMemorial.html
The Scout Patrol’s I/O was Captain G. Woodward. They were based in a large house on the outskirts of Wroxham
(Norfolk Broads). The area was covered by three AuxUnit patrols (referred to as “Home Guard Patrols” by Wroxham
Scout Patrol member TH Colquitt) in Norfolk Group 5 under the command of C/O Lt Harry Wharton of Mautby:
Mautby Patrol, South Walsham Patrol and Wroxham Patrol
Private garden - Accessed by kind
permission of the owners, Mr and Mrs Waters.
An Aux Unit Scout Section was based nearby, at Beech House, Wroxham. Beech House
is located about 2 kilometres north-east of Bear’s Grove Wood. The OB in the garden is believed to have housed an
SDS radio station (J. Warwicker).
The site is located about halfway down the garden of Beech House, immediately
adjoining the northern boundary of the property and a former public footpath (now closed).
The site comprised a large house and adjoining garden, requisitioned for use as a base for the Norfolk Auxiliary
Units Scouts Patrol. Upstairs, the house was fitted with military bunks. An SDS radio station is believed to have
been situated beside the footpath running along the northern edge of the property’s garden.
In the 1940s, the property formed part of the Trafford estate. The house has long since been returned to use as
a private dwelling, it was rented out after the war and eventually sold. Before the purchase of the current owners
(Mr and Mrs Waters) in 1998 of an area of land adjoining their garden they pointed out to Mr Trafford*, the
landowner, an underground structure in the land they wished to purchase from him. Within days workers were sent in
and the structure was destroyed. The Waters had believed it to have served as an air raid shelter during the war
but had always wondered why it was so far distant from the house.
*Mr Trafford also owns Bear’s Grove Wood, where Wroxham patrol’s OB is believed to be located.
One of the demolition workers took pictures on his mobile phone. Considering that several years have passed
since we did not attempt to try and find him.
**A relative of Mrs Waters’ accessed the underground structure before it was demolished.
He described it as having had a flat concrete roof and brick-built walls with a size of probably about 5.50 to 6m
by 3m, in a state of collapse.
***The previous tenant, Mr TCS Brooke (Wroxham), also accessed the structure and described to us
what he saw.
It created a slight hump in the ground. Entrance was through a vertical shaft with rungs set into a corner of the
brickwork. The main chamber consisted of a Nissen hut-type 5- 6m long and 3m wide. It had only one room, the far
end of which had collapsed and daylight could be seen. It was completely empty.
Only a very overgrown depression remains on the ground, denoting where the entrance or exit would have been. It
immediately adjoins the since discontinued (closed) public footpath leading past the site.
DOB has the site on record as Auxiliary Unit Site S0013571
Description: 12/05/1999 Large house requisitioned for use by Auxiliary Units as base for the Norfolk Scouts
Patrol. Upstairs fitted with military bunks. Garden used for training. [Information to recorder from Mr. T.
Colquitt, former member of the Norfolk Scout Patrol, and Mr. J. Fielding, ex-Norfolk auxiliary].
End of garden of Beech House, The Avenue, Wroxham
Entrance beneath cold-frame. Ladder down to L-shaped operational base. Double-storied, with flat corrugated-iron
roof. Brick built storeroom with concrete roof and steel door. 20 yard escape tunnel, 2-3 feet high. Small room at
end containing radio. [Information to recorder from Mr. T. Colquitt, former member of the Norfolk Scout Patrol].
(Source: William Ward, Field Visit 1999/07)
See more on the OB under 'Other Information' below
The following information is published in John Warwicker, Churchill’s Underground
Strong evidence exists that the Wroxham Scout Section was unique in that one of its two OBs held a radio for the
local Auxunit’s Special Duties Section at Wroxham.
Tom Colquitt appears to be the only member of this Scout Section patrol who has come forward and whose account
has been published in J Warwicker,
Churchill’s Underground Army (2008). Tom Colquitt was posted with AU Scout Section at Wroxham. His patrol
carried prepared explosives around on exercises in modified car inner tubes – one end tied with rope and a noose
round the other acting as a sling. Bicycle inner tubes were adapted to carry ‘sausages’ of prepared charges to lay
along the wing or, preferably, the tail section of an aircraft. They put together a test-firing rig to blow up
passing cars: a wire strung across the road from trees was intended, when hit by a vehicle, to set off grenades
that were suspended, with safety pins removed, in cocoa tins alongside.
Reference: Tom Colquitt in: John Warwicker, Churchill’s Underground
The following information was compiled from interviews conducted by Dr Will Ward, CART CIO Dorset, on
behalf of the DoB Project, with Mr TH Colquitt (Army Number 5783511), who was a member of Wroxham Scout Patrol in
1942/43. Many thanks to Dr Will Ward for making this information available.
After leaving school, Tom Colquitt worked on the railways, a reserved occupation. At the end of 1941 he was
called up and joined the 7th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment at Bacton-on-Sea (North Norfolk) at the beginning of
Following a battle exercise at North Walsham Mr Colquitt was asked by a panel of officers if he would want to be
put forward for a commission. After having declined he was called before a further panel of officers consisting of
a Staff Colonel, a Brevet Major and a Staff Captain. He was questioned on how to destroy a railway, and having
worked before the War for the LMS railway and being trained in explosives, this was straightforward. He was asked
how to accomplish this task without the use of explosives and a successful answer resulted in his transfer to the
Norfolk Scout Patrol at Wroxham. Mr Colquitt had to agree to join and sign the Official Secrets Act before finding
out what was involved.
The Scout Patrol was based at a large house near Wroxham Broad. It was mined under the floorboards with
guncotton and 36 detonators, and come invasion time pencil detonators would have been added. The house, now known
as Beech House, had an office downstairs that was manned by a sergeant (one of the non-operational clerks). There
was also a kitchen and an eating area. This was also where guard duty was mounted, though the men had their weapons
with them at all times anyway. Upstairs were bedrooms fitted with two to four army beds. Mr. Colquitt shared a room
with a Norfolk Lance Corporal and Chalky, Alfie and Bob shared another room. Lt. Pike had a room to his own and
Capt. Woodward lived elsewhere. An RASC Sergeant and driver Curtain shared another room. The patrol did their own
cooking, though Sid Mace did most of it.
The OB was located in the rear garden of the house, with its entrance disguised by a cold frame. The lid lifted
and the floor came up, allowing access down a ladder. It was L-shaped with a flat double-skinned corrugated iron
roof, and contained a number of bunks. There was a brick built section for arms and ammunition with a concrete roof
and steel door. A two to three foot high escape tunnel ran 10 to 20 yards before coming up through a small hole in
a copse. The OB contained a wireless set in a small area near the end of the escape tunnel, operated by the patrol.
Its aerial was run up an oak tree above the dugout, hidden beneath a V of bark, cut out and replaced over the wire.
The antenna sat in the branches. The call-sign was “Bowling 9”. Apart from a few brief tests no messages were ever
sent. Mr. Colquitt remembers that the set was battery powered and for emergencies only. A signaller occasionally
called in to check it.
Tom Colquitt believes that the patrol’s 2nd OB was destroyed by construction work for the new Yacht Club on
The OB was the site of an explosion when a member of the patrol (Bob Butcher) accidentally ignited a gas bottle
that had been left switched on. It is thought that an engineer was injured. Captain Woodward consequently issued
strict instructions on the use of Calor gas after this (this document survives and a copy of it can be seen
Wroxham was not used for explosives exercises or training.
The Scout Patrol was not aware that Rackheath Hall was used by the Special
Duties (Signals) Branch of Auxiliary Units.
The OB was fully equipped with food and ammunition was kept in separate steel boxes. There were silica packets
to keep the stores dry. The stores were kept in separate brick built areas of the OB, approximately six-foot
square, which had concrete roofs and floors and a steel door. The OB was rarely used for training.
Armament was quite varied, with patrol members having their own choice. There was one .22 Winchester(?) single
shot bolt action sniper rifle, as well as .303 Lee Enfields, though
the latter were generally discarded. Pistols were either .38 Webleys or .38 Smith & Wessons. The pistol rounds
were lead rather than nickel. The Thompson sub-machinegun was
preferred to the Sten Gun, which was discarded due to frequent jamming.
The patrol also trained with German
weapons such as the Mauser, Spandau MG and Potato Masher Grenade. In addition, they were issued with
rubber truncheons, brass knuckle dusters, prismatic compasses and Fairbairn fighting knives, the latter made by
Wilkinson Sword. Typical fashion was to wear this on the left hip, along with the holster for the pistol, the
latter's lanyard either being removed or tied to the belt, not around the neck. If crawling through a wood, the
pistol was placed down the back of the neck where it was least likely to get snagged. They also had waterproof•
rubber ankle boots, which allowed usually silent movement, though they squeaked in the wet.
The patrol had a variety of specialist explosives and
paraphernalia. There were pull switches, pressure switches and "debollickers" (castrators). They used Nobel 808 40z
and 80z sticks and plastic, which could only be made in black and could be shaped into small lumps to hide in the
coal of a train engine. They were equipped with time pencils and 36 detonators, together with 2ft/min black fuse
and instant HE fuse (composed of PETN Pentaerythritol tetranitrate). This latter was the latest cutting fuze. There
was a special match, with a bulbous red tip and black body, marked halfway with red band, which did not blow-out in
the wind. It did not burn with a flame, but just glowed. (The Fuzzee)
The patrol also made up their own charges, depending on the target. Typical was an baratol sausage in a bicycle
inner tube, with detonator and time pencils, which was to lay along the wing of an aircraft. Motor car inner tubes,
with the valve section cut out, were used to transport explosives on exercise. One end of the tube was tied with
rope, with a noose around the other acting as a sling. The fuses and 36 detonators were attached, but the time
pencils left off, to be crimped onto the fuse later with their teeth.
On one occasion the patrol devised a booby trap for vehicles and tested it out. A cocoa tin was nailed to a
tree, with a 36 grenade (pin removed) wedged inside. A wire then ran from this grenade to another similarly mounted
on the other side of the road. When a vehicle struck the wire, it would behave as explosive boleros. Lt. Percy Pike
tried this out in his car (with dummy grenades), and was hit in the face with his car's windscreen being knocked
Transport was a 15cwt Platoon truck (with RASC driver) and a Utility (a small van-like vehicle). The patrol did
not have bicycles or motorbikes, though a Despatch Rider (DR) visited occasionally. Lt. Pike had his own private
car and Captain Woodward had a Humber Snipe Staff Car. Mr. Colquitt often accompanied Captain Woodward on his
visits to the Home Guard patrols, acting as unofficial bodyguard, guarding his briefcase. There were frequent
inspections of the Home Guard (AU) Patrols, but not regular visits, and they never involved an overnight stay.
According to Mr Colquitt, the Scout Patrol acted independently and had very little to do with the Home Guard
(AU) patrols, who they regarded as greatly inferior. It was felt that the Home Guard (AU) patrols would act as a
buffer, allowing the Scout Patrol to inflict real damage.
They knew much that was not general knowledge, including about Operation Sealion and the experiments to set the Channel
on fire. They never saluted each other, using first names amongst themselves.
The Scout Patrol members used a pass card, white, with “W.D.” and the words “AUXILIARY UNITS” printed on it.
This was their only identification as they did not carry AB64 ptl or pt2, or wear any insignia other than the Royal
Norfolk’s cap badge.
An occasional visitor to Wroxham was Major Barclay, rumoured to be a member of the Barclay's Bank family. He was
well dressed, with all the kit, and he came to see Capt. Woodward.
About the end of 1943 to the beginning of 1944, Mr. Colquitt transferred to the Royal Engineers and was sent to
Longmoor for a T.O. course as a railway controller. Following this came further training at the Edinburgh Battle
School and Inverurie, before sailing for the Mediterranean with Lord Lovat's Scouts. He served on military railways
in Italy and helped run a captured armoured railcar, “The Atom”, which ran on a stretch of railway near the
Yugoslav border and had precedence over all other traffic. After the war Tom Colquitt joined the Police Force and
later worked as a Fire and Security Officer until his retirement in 1981. He died on 29 May 2010.
Corporal Leslie “Les” Charles Long (Army Number 6019123) later joined the SAS (B Squadron). He was 26 when
taking part part in Operation Bulbasket. He was captured by the German army on 3.7.1944 and executed in Foret de
Saint-Sauvant on 7th July 1944. He is buried in Rom Communal Cemetery, France, Military Plot Row 1 Coll. grave
Private Victor Owen "Chalky" White (Army Number 6011364, formerly Royal Norfolk Regiment) later joined the SAS
(B Squadron). His group was part of Operation Bulbasket. He was captured by the German army on 3.7.1944 and
executed in Foret de Saint-Sauvant on 7th July 1944. He is buried in Rom Communal Cemetery, France, Military Plot
Row 1 Coll. grave 1-26
Dr William Ward, DOB; J Warwicker, Churchill’s Underground
Army (2008); Stephen Lewins, CART CIO Northumberland, Mr and Mrs Waters, Wroxham; Mr TCS Brooke
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