Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Somerset Auxiliary Units Other Info

North Somerset Scout Section - Added 23/1/15

British Resistance Organisation in Somerset 

by Donald Brown, author Somerset versus Hitler, Countryside Books 1999

Coleshill sent out Intelligence Officers to our coastal counties “to organise auxiliary forces to form a resistance movement in the event of a successful German invasion of this country”. By September, three months after Dunkirk, the British Resistance Organisation was in place. Within a year, it mustered 3,000 volunteers in over a hundred small, highly trained patrols, better equipped and armed than many Army units. It operated in such secrecy that its members were denied service medals when the war ended. AU men have now, however, qualified for HM Armed Forces Veteran Badge. It took the rest of the 20th century before MOD grudgingly awarded a trickle of Defence Medals.

John McCue and Ian Fenwick



In June 1940, 2/Lt Ian Fenwick was seconded from the King’s Royal Rifle Corps to “a specialist appointment” at Coleshill with the rank of captain.

After training, he was posted to Somerset as Intelligence Officer where his charismatic leadership established the country’s second largest resistance network, building up to 300 men in 44 patrols working out of 50 secret Operational Bases buried in Somerset’s caves, woods and quarries.

Thirty Somerset Auxiliers were still with us in 2009, still talking of Fenwick.

(Image left) John McCue and Ian Fenwick at Axbridge Wine Cellars.




Cranmore Scout Section  

Cranmore Scout Section with Lt Keith Salter and Sgt Freddy Chapman Centre rear rank.

Coleshill spread its teachings through locally based Scout Sections of a subaltern and a dozen soldiers. Many of these Scouts and some auxiliers moved on, like Fenwick, into Special Forces, employing their specialist AU skills in the invasion of Europe.

Somerset Auxiliers

AU members were volunteers, wearing Home Guard uniform but not named on HG files. The patrol leader was a sergeant. A few auxiliers were given HG commissions and put in charge of groups of patrols. One of these Groups covered Bath, the only urban BRO in Britain. Read Bob Millards account of the Bath Patrol here

Coleshill trained the Scout Sections to help locate, design and build Patrol Operational Bases. These varied in style, some using natural features and others being prefabricated from “elephant shelters” designed for WW1 trenches. Most were destroyed at the end of the war, but some survive as testimony to their original strength of construction. See more bunker images on our Bunkers page

Read the Coleshill Training & Test Papers here

Other known OB's in Somerset are;

Green Ore OB

Green Ore, Somerset

Hunstrete Pensford OB 1

Outside Hunstrete-Pensford, Somerset

Hunstrete Pensford OB 2

Inside Hunstrete-Pensford, Somerset

Hunstrete Pensford OB 3

Inside Hunstrete-Pensford, Somerset, with Auxilier Jim Hooper who built the OB.