Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Butleigh Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated on 2/4/16

Thank you for selecting information on the Butleigh Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Somerset. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researcher Chris Perry with assistance from Nina Hannaford, CART CIO for Devon.

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.

Butleigh is a village 4 miles south from Glastonbury and approximately 2 miles from Baltonsborough.

Thought to be around April 1941 after Baltonsborough Patrol was disbanded.

Home Guard records show the men were “transferred to Aux Unit - 4th April 1941” and a note made at a reunion after Stand Down records Haimes, Burrough and Ball all served “since formation”. Whitehead and Harding are noted as “former members”.

This appears to indicate this was a later Patrol, formed after Baltonsborough Patrol was disbanded.

Alan Crick was one of the original Intelligence Officers that were sent out on reconnaissance. He surveyed Somerset and Dorset. Captain Ian Fenwick (Kings Royal Rifle Corps) was the first Intelligence Officer covering the county of Somerset along with the City of Bath. During his command he was billeted near Taunton with a HQ in Bridgewater. He went on to join the SAS and was killed in action in France in August 1944.

By August 1942 Captain L Strangman (Royal Army Ordnance Corps) was Somerset's IO based at Sherwood House, Goathurst near Bridgewater. A move of HQ to The Lodge at Bishops Lydeard preceded a change of IO to Captain John W Holberton who was, in turn, succeeded by Captain J M Martin (MC) in February 1944.

At a meeting held in July 1944 it was decided to group all the counties into 4 regions. The Somerset Patrols became part of “Region 4” under the command of Major W W Harston based in Ashburton, Devon. As the final Intelligence Officer, Harston's command would cover the whole of the South West and South Wales.

The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 onwards leaving the Area and Group Commanders.
After 1941 a “grouping” system was developed where various patrols within a demographic area would regularly train together under more local command.

Butleigh was part of Group 11 with Green Ore (Wells), Dinder and Ebbor Gorge under the Area Command of Captain H Radford, a wine merchant from Axbridge and Group Command of Lt Edward A Harrison a schoolmaster from Wells.

Sergeant Leonard Bond Haimes, Butleigh Wootton
Robert Charles Burrough, Butleigh
Frederick C Ball, Butleigh
Stanley “Stan” Jesse Higgins, Butleigh
Henry G Marsh,  Butleigh

The following Auxiliers were first recruited to Baltonsborough Patrol before serving later with Butleigh Patrol. They are not on the nominal roll so must have left before 1942.
Herbert J Whitehead of Martin Street, Baltonsborough
William Harding of Ham Street, Baltonsborough.

The Operational base was located in Catwell Wood, on The Granville Estate, Butleigh Wootton.
“Cedar Walk” is a well known local landmark of a mile long avenue of Lebanese Cedars which runs through the Wood.

It is known the Operational Base was destroyed and dug out after the war. There are two possible sites within Catwell Wood, the first being a 22ft x 11ft depression filled with loose soil. This is in the far west corner away from Cedar Walk.

The other possible site is a 20ft x 12ft depression on the north east side of the wood, close to the ditch on the edge of the wood and 280ft from the nearest tree making up Cedar Walk.

Harold Lane of Ebbor Patrol remembered helping to dig the OB site and his son Mark remembered waiting in the car near the “Avenue of trees”, most likely while it was being destroyed.

OS New Popular Edition 1945 sheet 165.

Circled is the “Cedar Walk” running through Catwell Wood.

This map also shows the proximity to the village of Baltonsborough with the earlier Patrol. Their explosives store being in the central (circled) Park Wood.

Other physical remains nearby: In the past a possible OB site was recorded at Combe Hill (other side of the road to Butleigh Wood on the map) but upon investigation of the site these remains are most likely connected to the pre-existing rifle range in the same area.

The site has been documented so if any further evidence relating to this as being an OB comes forward, this can be reviewed. (Somerset Historic Environment Record ref 15636)

Cedar Walk with Catwell Wood beyond.

Looking down the “Cedar Walk” to Catwell Wood.

Currently unknown but obvious local targets would include the roads A37 “Fosse Way” from Dorchester to Bristol, the A39 and A361 from the North Devon coast along with the B3151 from south towards Street and the B3153 east to west.

Other targets could have included railway lines around Somerton and Glastonbury and military camps in Street and Glastonbury.

Group 11 were trained by the Scout Section for North and East Somerset based at the stables of Southill House, Cranmore under, initially Lt John McCue (Wiltshire Regiment) and later Lt Keith Salter (6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry).

The regular Home Guard units used a pre-existing rifle range and training area on the bottom slope of Combe Hill on the Compton Dundon side. This could have been used by the Patrol also.

It is assumed they had access to the regular weapons and equipment listed here

Lt Edward Harrison was a geography teacher and assistant Headmaster at Wells Cathedral School and seems to have recruited quite a few ex-pupils into the Patrols under his command.

The Patrols of Group 11 under Lt Harrison: Dinder Patrol, Green Ore (Wells) Patrol, Ebbor Patrol and Butleigh Patrol met at The Bekynton Cafe in Wells on Friday 15th December 1945 for a reunion meal.

The men enjoyed steamed cod and parsley sauce with peas and Brussels sprouts. Pudding was damson pie and custard and they were each presented with a letter of thanks from the Commander in Chief Home Forces, General Sir Harold Franklyn.

They met again on Thursday 19th December 1946 at Wickenden's Restaurant where the Wells Journal openly calls them Aux Units.

Wells Journal 20th December 1946

Sgt. Leonard Haimes worked as a highways foreman for Somerset Council and was honorary secretary for the local British Legion. Leonard was the son-in-law of Reginald Mounsdon who was the head gardener to Robert Neville-Grenville, owner of the land where the OB was situated.

Leonard joined the Royal Artillery Territorial Force aged 16 in 1921 on joining his occupation is recorded as a blacksmiths helper. He left to enlist in the Somerset Light Infantry in October 1922 serving in Egypt.

Robert Burrough was a farm worker and a keen cricketer.

Frederick Ball worked as an electrician.

Herbert J Whitehead worked as a bicycle dealer. Records show he was “transferred to Aux unit 4th April 41” as was William Harding who was a plumber. This could be them moving from the earlier Baltonsborough Patrol to join the newly formed Butleigh Patrol. They left before stand down and are not on the 1942 nominal roll.

Stanley “Stan” Jesse Higgins was a bricklayers labourer and Henry G Marsh was a farm labourer.

TNA ref WO199/3390 and WO 199/3391
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Donald Brown Research for “Somerset vs Hitler” and Defence of Britain Database.
Mr Charles Rendell
“The Somerset Home Guard, a Pictorial Roll Call”, by Jeffrey Wilson.
Somerset Heritage Environment Record ref 11293, 15636, 16671
Newspapers and 1939 Register on Findmypast
Wells Journal.
Mrs B Butt – daughter of Sgt. Haimes.

If you can help with any info please contact us.