Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Birch / Layer-de-la-Haye Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 8:41am on 22/3/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Birch / Layer-de-la-Haye Auxiliary Unit Patrol located in Essex. The info below has been compiled by Dr Will Ward CART CIO for Dorset.

Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information below is published from various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not listed below it does not necessarily mean the information is not out there but normally means CART researchers have not found it yet.

If you have any information on this patrol or can help with research in this area please do contact us.

Not known by CART.

Not known by CART.

Name DOB Occupation   Died
Sgt. David F Macauley     Farmer Yes
Cpl. George W Ward
Pte. Richard Golden "Dick" Fairhead 1918 Farmer 1995
Pte. R Strathern Farmer Yes
Pte. B Rootkin
Pte. W A Abbott
Pte. A W L Howe        

In 1999, Mrs Fairhead described how her husband had kept quiet about his wartime service until the publication of “The Last Ditch”. He did not mention it even when he went for a commission in the Royal Observer Corps in the early 1960s. He was asked why he did not have the Defence Medal on his uniform and without a satisfactory explanation was turned down for the commission. The next time he went for the commission he had a tailor friend obtain the necessary ribbon and sew it on his uniform and was successfully promoted. After he died, she read about the Auxiliary Units being able to claim the Defence Medal and wrote to claim on his behalf. His brother was in the RAF and Dick had to stay behind to help his father on the farm and it is thought he say Auxiliary Units as being his way to play a part in the war.

David Macauley was a one of a farming family whose land covered a large part of the area both before and after the war.

Birch Layer-de-la-Haye Patrol 1

Photo of the Birch unit, courtesy of the son of Sgt. David Macauley (centre). All the patrol members signed the others copies of the photo.

According to Fred Nash, of Essex County Council, the Operational Base (OB) was cut into the north end of an ancient dyke in Woods near Layer. It was a standard elephant shelter bunker and is now apparently partially collapsed. Please note that this OB is on private land with no public access.

 Birch Layer-de-la-Haye Patrol 2

Very little remains to be seen of the OB on the surface. The is the edge of part of the roof.
Photos submitted to CART, taken during a survey of WW2 defences in Essex.

Birch Layer-de-la-Haye Patrol 3

The bunker appears almost completely filled with soil, and partly collapsed.

Not known by CART.

Dick Fairhead is known to have travelled to Coleshill for training.

The patrol would generally have the weapons shown here

After the war, Dick Fairhead served for 29 years with he Royal Observer Corps, 16 as an officer. He also sat on Essex County Council. He wife became Mayor of Colchester, as did Nancy Cannon, daughter of Mr Strathern.

Information from the Macauley and Fairhead families via Bill Ward