Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Aux Gateway - GPO Highworth

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See the information board that CART has installed in the Post Office here

This page was last updated at 7:42pm on 20/8/13

In July 1940 Major the Hon. Michael T. Henderson was instructed to find a suitable location for a Headquarters and Training Establishment. He chose the Coleshill Estate which was ideal. Coleshill House became the Headquarter building, the outbuildings – the Stable Block & Clock House were ideal to accommodate permanent supporting staff and others that would attend training courses.  The Estate woods, farms and fields were an ideal training ground.

The small village had grown to house the estate workers and their families and as such they had learned to keep away from the Main House and respect the privacy of the Pleydell-Bouverie family.  This attitude continued throughout the war.

It was probably Major Henderson who devised the extra layer of security that became the ‘Gateway’ to Coleshill. Mabel Stranks the Post Mistress at Highworth Post Office was approached and agreed to act as the first point of contact for visiting Training Course Attendees.

Highworth Station was at the end of the Branch line from Swindon and 3 miles from Coleshill.    

Mabel Stranks 



Courses were run at the GHQ Colleshill every week.

Those Auxiliers selected for training were giving instructions to report to the Post Mistress at Highworth Post Office.

After checking their I.D.  Her response was to tell them to wait and went off to telephone the Camp and notify them of their arrival. Transport was despatched to pick them up. 

Read a full account of this process here

                 Mabel Stranks  

Although Mabel Stranks was not a member of Auxiliary Units and not on Hitler’s Gestapo Arrest List she was in a vulnerable position if the German’s had landed – any of the Auxilers caught by the enemy could under interrogation have revealed her existence and whereabouts.

She in turn never spoke about her wartime activities

   Highworth Post Office



In the 18th century the “Greyhound Inn” stood where the ‘Old Post Office’ now stands.  Later No.23 High Street became the famous ‘Highworth Post Office’ run by Mabel Stranks and remained so until the mid 1950’s when she retired.  Her son Edward became the Post Master and moved the business to its present position 5 Sheep Street, near the Market Square.

The layout of the Post Office (below) that the Auxiliers would have discovered consisted of ‘The Main Counter’, the Sorting Office and a Switchboard room.

Highworth Post Office Plan

100 line manual switchboard of the type used to call ‘Highworth 85’ Coleshill GHQ


Recently the building has been completely refurbished and looking fine, with the ground floor layout basically the same arranged for commercial purposes and the first floor residential.

The new owner has kindly given CART/BRA permission to put up a display board in the central hallway explaining the historic link with Auxiliary Units. See more about this here.

Highworth Post Office in 2013   

The refurbished building

The Plaque


Bill Ashby 2011

CART's County Information Officer (CIO) for Coleshill is Bill Ashby.

If you wish to discuss anything relating to Coleshill please email  or you can email our head office