Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units



Tot BarrassAn extract [page 65-69] from Hartley to Seaton Sluice 1760-1960: THE MILITARY CONNECTION by David J Anderson RIBA Published by The Seaton Design Group 1990

These Parish invasion committees were essentially passive but in the background a Resistance movement,” one of Britain’s best kept secrets” were traing gorilla Auxiliary Units in a coastal strip thirty miles deep in readiness to harass the Nazi war machine when it landed on our beaches.

Taken from the Home Guard these men were expected to blend into the countryside,” to live rough and go on fighting until they won”.
Many of these Auxiliary units were assigned to sectors where they lived and ‘Tot’ [Tommy] Barrass was in a local cell at Cramlington which was one of fifteen patrols throughout Northumberland.

 Anthony Quayle Letter

Part of the 202nd Home Guard ,Tot’s captain was the Actor Sir Anthony Quayle and the Cramlington cell, of seven men, included Alf Smith, D.Needhan, the cells leader,Wilf Wood, Wilf Henderson, George Willey, Norman Thompson and ‘Tot’. The Cramlington Cell had their hideout in an underground chamber in Hartford Woods near Bedlington, Northumberland with six months rations and ammunition. The cell members used to also meet in secret at an empty terraced house in Shankhouse, Cramlington, Northumberland.

Secrecy was all important and each cell, in Northumberland, was not known by name to any other cell just in case of interrogation or collaboration. ‘Tot’ remembers his Thompson ‘Tommy’ submachine gun, a mills bomb, a Fairburn dagger and a sabotage diary made to look like the ‘Countryman’s Diary’

Training for each cell was intense but it was often not to difficult for ‘Tot’ to disguise the fact that he was away from the ‘coal- face’ for long periods as being part of the Home Guard meant that excuses could be made for his absences from the coal mine at Seaton Delaval. For the training to be effective it had to be realistic and many exercises were carried out on real soldiers and many active camps, who were supposed to be informed of a pending exercise, were not and ‘Tot’ well remembers one such incident with disastrous results.

Scotland was a popular training area and at Couper ‘Tot’ was on such a training exercise. He was crawling up a gulley, with his blackened face and knife w between his teeth, when he was discovered and a blow from the boot of an armed guard crashed between his ribs. Fortunately his cell-mate was just behind ‘Tot’ and came to his rescue with the heel of his rifle, right between the eyes of the guard, and both ‘Tot’ and the guard ended up in hospital!
With his ribs strapped up ‘Tot’ was soon back at work down ‘The Avenue Drift’
Seaton Delaval making excuses and trying to explain away his painful posture. 

Perhaps the most important exercise in ‘Tots’ career was defending the Royal Family at Balmoral, Scotland. For this special exercise ‘Tot’ remembers how he was provided with a new suit and Glengarry Beret and how on one Sunday morning, accompanying the Royal family to Crathy Church ,he had to desert his King and Queen during the service for a call of nature and he was nearly arrested for his actions!

Tot's Commendation


For his services at Balmoral ‘Tot’ received a personal commendation/citation with a message of thanks from the King.

Entitled 490 the citation is dated October 1944 and proudly hangs on the wall of his flat at Beresford Court, Seaton Sluice.

During the D-Day landings ‘Tot’ guarded a Power Station on the Isle of Wight. 'Tot' sadly died in 1999 and his wife Belle knew little about his activities during the war.

For readers who wishes to learn more about this ‘Secret Army’ they should read THE LAST DITCH by David Lamp, published by Cassell and Company 1968”…………………………

 Our thanks goes to David J Anderson for this info