Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Auxiliary Unit Training Manuals

Membership of the Aux units had grown to such an extent that some form of essential sabotage information was necessary as an aide-memoire for the volunteers. The government issued three training manuals during WW2. You can buy copies of all these secret manuals in our shop

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1937 Calendar - Auxiliary Units


1937 Calendar (Produced in 1940)

Many people think "The Countryman's Diary" was the first and only manual issued but they are wrong. The government and Coleshill staff created the 1937 Calendar which research would suggest was issued in 1940 but increased sophistication of equipment and training meant that by mid 1942 this original training manual was outdated and replaced by the Calendar 1938. CART sells a brand new 23 page rare reproduction, A5 size. It is bound at the top rather than the side using a metal clasp. 



1938 Calendar - Auxiliary Units

1938 Calendar (Produced in 1942)

An obvious difference between the 1937 Calendar and the 1938 one was the amount of information given to Auxiliers in the application of their stores. Many ideas developed by experience over the two previous were detailed, including novel booby traps such as a No.36 grenade placed with its pin removed and contained inside an empty food tin. The tin was tied to a tree or convenient post and a wire attached to the grenade stretched across a path or road.

When ‘tripped’, the wire simply pulled the grenade out of the tin – and exploded. In another, a ‘double’ trap allowed an enemy to find one wire only to walk into another.

CART sells a brand new 48 page rare reproduction A5 size. One page has a tiny part of the text missing at the top but it is only about 1 line. This is the most illustrated of the three books.


The Countryman's Diary 1939  The Countryman's Diary 1939 (Produced in 1943)

This fascinating booklet was a direct development of the Calendar 1937 and Calendar 1938 – as a brief comparison of the respective contents will confirm. On the balance of probabilities the most likely period for its issue – certainly before 1944 – was toward the end of 1943.

The inclusion in the booklet of the No.77 ‘Smoke Grenade’ is one whose issue provides a clue to the period of production.

This unpleasant weapon – which showered burning phosphorus on anyone within ten yards – had hitherto not been widely issued to Auxiliary Units and, like the half-pound Unit Charge, was ultimately included in the Oxenden’s ‘final’ appraisal as a preferred weapon for the saboteur. In November, 1943, a request from Auxiliary Units HQ for the fifty thousand No.77 Grenades almost caused uproar within the War Office as it exceeded their issue recommendation by some 2,500%. After much deliberation and the well-practised ritual of justification, only on the 10th January 1944 was the issue agreed – and then subject to supply phased over three months. Although there is no corroboration, the evidence – including the timing of requests for the issue of Fire Pots and the PTIs, suggest that possible publication dates range from mid-1942 to the latter half of 1943.

The contents of the Countryman’s Diary remained much the same of Calendar 1938, including the ‘L’ (Lead) delay, and advanced version of the Time Pencils which, instead of acid, relied upon a spring-loaded lead wire. When broken, it fired the attached detonator. The main changes were in the exclusion of the “Sticky Bomb” and the highly dangerous AP switch; and the inclusion of the “Fire Pot” – a magnesium incendiary which, once lit, was almost impossible to extinguish – and the Pocket Time Incendiary (PTI). Both were issued exclusively to Aux Units. The reduction of weight of the unit charge – the standard explosive weapon used operational patrols since the middle of 1942 – provides further indication that this booklet was the last in the evolutionary line of “Calendar” training manuals, as the new half pound charge also features in Major Oxenden’s “Final Teaching”.

It was issued as a 42-page booklet, put together by a captain in the RE and which contained all the reminders that a well trained saboteur would need in practice. As a doubtful concession to security, it was given a cover title which would not look out of place on any farmer's bookshelf, The Countryman's Diary - 1939.

It was humourously issued 'With the Compliments of Highworth and Co' and stated that 'Highworth Fertilisers do their stuff unseen, until you see results!' This could well have become the operational motto of the three Auxunit Battalions!As well as giving details on the packaging, characteristics and methods of use of the various explosives and equipment, the handbook contained many useful hints and tips, including the 'dos and don'ts' of handling explosives. A chapter was included on the best methods of attacking certain targets, and how to calculate the amount of explosives required, followed by the admonition that 'if in doubt, double the calculated charge!'

Sketched drawings indicated how to destroy railway lines, petrol dumps and stores, and where to place charges to do the most damage to parked aeroplanes or vehicles.

Advice was also given on how to make improvised mines. 'Aim at killing by splinters, not by blast!' The use of an old motorcycle cylinder was highly recommended - 'The fins fly well!'

Apart from the standard government caution relating to the disclosure of information to unauthorised persons printed on the fly-leaf, there was no indication for whom this publication was intended, although one give-away missed censorship, for, when warning that some gelignite could deteriorate under damp storage conditions, the author stated that 'Auxunit packing is OK'.

CART sells a brand new 42 page rare reproduction A5 size. One page has a tiny part of the text missing at the top but it is only about 1 line.



The Art of Guerrilla Warfare Handbook

Colin Gubbins' 23 page guide on the art of guerrilla warfare. This is a copy which has been restored and re-written. It is A5 size and is text only and covers the science of guerrilla techniques. 

The Partisan Leader's Handbook


The Partisan Leader's Handbook

Colin Gubbins' 29 page guide on the principles of guerrilla warfare and sabotage. This is a copy which has been restored and re-written and unlike other web versions the drawings are clear and easy to read. It is A5 size and mainly covers forms of ambush. 

Buy copies of these now

You can buy copies of all these secret manuals in our shop