Bentley Auxiliary Unit Patrol
This page was last updated at 8:22am on 24/12/13
Thank you for selecting information on the Bentley Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Suffolk. The info and images below have
been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.
It formed part of Ipswich Group (Group No 5 Suffolk) which included
Ipswich I Patrol, Ipswich II Patrol, Bentley Patrol,
Wenham aka Capel St Mary Patrol, East Bergholt Patrol, Sproughton
aka Burstall Patrol, Hintlesham Patrol and Raydon aka Stratford St Mary Patrol
CO Capt EG Pawsey, Ipswich
2nd Lt HE Mellor, Ipswich
2nd Lt CH Procter, Ipswich – promoted to Capt and transferred to Beccles Group
Lt HE Mellor worked for the Alliance Insurance Co at Ipswich. He moved to Oxford after the war.
1940 - the patrols south of Woodbridge are believed to have been the first
in Suffolk to have been set up by Intelligence Officer Captain Andrew Croft.
Sgt William “Bill” Sage Ratford (transferred out)
Sgt Peter J Hutton - farmed at Clay Farm, Copdock
Cpl Lionel Crown
Gerald Sporle (transferred out)
Tony GF Hutton - farmed at Station Farm, Copdock
Hugh George Dunt (killed in road accident)
Hammond N Betts – farmed at Brook Farm, Capel St Mary
The following account comes from Sgt William “Bill” Sage Ratford (in: The Book of Capel, p 161-163):
“I was recruited when a man came to my door and said he wanted six men, ‘gamekeepers, poachers and burglars’, to
form this group. I dare say he came to me because I had been a gamekeeper. We were given training by
Commandos, and when we had to make our dugout it was camouflaged by experts, so that no one walking by would know
it was there. Ours was in the woods at Bentley. … We had wonderful arms, better than front line troops.
I had a Colt revolver and a rifle with telescopic sights and silencer. Also grenades, with fuse and
detonators; there was a ‘pencil’ detonator and pressure and time fuse. Also an enormous magnet. … I went to
Coleshill with Hammond Betts from Brook Farm, in his MG, for a course in explosives. … I was to choose others
in my group. From the village came Tony and Peter Hutton and Gerald Sporle, he was very young but a very good
shot. … We were the ones who dug the dugout for Wenham group, right under one of the rooms at Jermyn’s Farm. … We
were used to test security at airfields. At Wattisham we were to enter but must not go into the bomb store …
Tony Hutton and I were the ones to enter … we found a pillbox, felt around but didn’t know where we were.
Tony reckoned no one would see a little light so he struck a match and there in front of us was this notice: “any
bomb exceeding one tonne must not be lifted by adjacent hoist”. So then we had to get out … but then we were
arrested. We couldn’t deny we had been in the bomb store – we had stuck our labels there: ‘HE’ for High
Explosive, and ‘I’ for Incendiary’. … We had traning on all sorts of things. One part of our training
was to spend 24 hours continuous in our dugout. We would need food and Tony Hutton pointed out we had been
told we would have to live off the country, so we nicked a pair of chickens … and when somebody brought some
brussels sprouts we lit our primus to cook them. … If there had been an invasion we might have done something – but
after one attack the Germans would have taken hostages, and so stopped us. Perhaps we would have been heroes
for a bit then. But it would have been suicidal, I should think.”
The image above shows the Ipswich Group 5 patrols which consisted of:- Ipswich I and II Capel St Mary/Wenham,
Raydon/Stratford St Mary, East Bergholt, Sproughton, Hintlesham, Copdock and Bentley.
rear L - R 6th from left is a member of Copdock patrol as is 8th and 9th from left. 10th left is Pte. Len C
Wyratt (Wenham) 11th left is Pte. Charlie Goodchild (East Bergholt) and the last man is Cpl Reg Airey (Copdock)
Second rear L - R 10th from left is Pte Bill Church (Wenham) and 11th is Pte Billie Smith (East Bergholt)
Middle or third row 2nd left is Ipswich II member as is 4th from left. 10th from left is Cpl Charles A Coe
(Wenham) and 11th left is Cpl Ray Abbott (East Bergholt)
Second row 1st left Sgt W R Beaumont (Sproughton) 2nd Sgt Neville Palmer (Ipswich II) 3rd is Sgt Rex
Milner-Moore (Hintlesham) 4th is L E Hudson (Ipswich I) 5th is Captain John Anderton Group 2 I/C 6th is Lt Eric
Pawsey Group 2I/C 7th is Lt.Cecil James Procter 8th Sgt Horace Clements (Copdock) 9th is Sgt Peter Hutton (Bentley)
10th is Sgt PJ "Jack" Chaplin (Wenham) 11th is Sgt R Neville Devonshire (East Bergholt) 12th is Sgt Dennis Johnson
(Raydon/Stratford St Mary)
front row kneeling 1st left may be a Copdock member 3rd is Pte Charlie Ambrose (East Bergholt) and 4th is Pte Bill
Miller (East Bergholt)
Mellor and Pawsey were promoted to Captains and 2Lt. C J Proctor who had been Group 2 I/c left and was replaced
by John Anderton. The names above have been supplied by Stephen Lewins.
According to files held at the BRO Museum in Parham, the patrol’s OB is located in Bentley Long Wood/Holly
Wood. The report does not include a grid reference. Holly Wood is just to the west of the village of
Bentley, Bentley Long Wood is situated a good 2km to the north from it.
DoB has no record for this OB site.
The OB was located on a slight slope near the north-eastern edge of Holly Wood, west of Bentley, not far from a
narrow path. When Frank Ratford (nephew of patrol member Sgt Bill Ratford found the OB as a teenager it was still
accessible and he found evaporated Molotov cocktails scattered on the floor. The site has collapsed (or perhaps the
roof was removed) and until recently the corrugated sheeting forming its walls could still be seen in the
ground. The square depression has since been partially filled in with tree trunks. A large hole a couple of
metres beside it might once have been the entrance shaft. According to Sgt Bill Ratford “when we had to make our
dugout it was camouflaged by experts”.
According to an account given by patrol member Gerald Sporle (in: The Book of Capel), the patrol had an ammo
dump and an observation post nearby which was connected by field telephone to the OB:
When the war came, I became a member of a 202 group … we had training by the Commandos, to use explosives
and the arms we had and how to kill. … We were not told about other groups so that we couldn’t give anything
away. We were better armed than frontline soldiers. I had a sub-machine gun, a Smith & Wesson
revolver, and 12 grenades and 150 rounds of ammunition. … My group had a dugout in the woods in
Bentley. … We had a field telephone in a different place … and in another place a half-ton of gelignite. … We
used to go out at night for training … mostly our training was in sabotage, for which we had fuses and detonators
and the explosives; and for testing security at military places. … We ‘attacked’ the RAF at Martlesham. My
group had Peter and Tony Hutton and Bill Ratford.”
The patrol trained at night. Their training was mainly in sabotage, for which they had fuses and detonators
and explosives. They also tested security at military places and ‘attacked’ the RAF at Martlesham. Some patrol
members attended an explosives course held at Coleshill.
One member had a Smith & Wesson revolver, 12 grenades and 150 rounds of ammunition and another had Colt
revolver and a rifle with telescopic sights and silencer. The patrol also had grenades with fuses and detonators,
‘pencil’ detonators and pressure and time fuses, and magnets. Sten or Thompson submachine guns, Fairbairn-Sykes
fighting knives and .38 revolvers plus a variety of explosives, detonators and fuses would have been standard
BROM Parham; Stephen Lewins CART CIO Northumberland; Michael Anderton, Bentley (pers interview); patrol member
Gerald Sporle (in: The Book of Capel, p 115); patrol member Sgt William “Bill” Sage Ratford (in: The Book of Capel,
p 161-163); Frank Ratford, newphew of Sgt Bill Ratford (pers interview); The Book of Capel (ed R Pearce, M Tyler, G
White) publ by Capel St Mary Parish Council 1995
If you can help with any info please