Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Captain John Anthony Quayle

Researched by Stephen Lewins, CART's Northumberland Information officer.

Page last updated at 1:27pm on 26/1/14

John Anthony Quayle was the second Intelligence Officer for the Northumberland Auxiliary Units and due to his pre and post war acting their most famous member. He was born in Airedale, Lancashire 7/9/13 and after school education he went to RADA to train as an actor. The war intervened and on 8/9/39 he joined the Royal Artillery.  His service number was 109363.

In January 1940 Quayle was given an emergency commission and posted to Gibraltar by May. Here he took up a role in the Coastal Artillery defending the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.  While in Gibraltar he managed to get the job as A.D.C to General Liddel.

Wanting more of a hands on role he transferred back to the UK taking up the post of Intelligence Officer Northumberland. This post he held from March 1941 to November 1941 when he was succeeded by Victor Albert Gough.

His time with the Auxiliary Units in Northumberland stood him in good stead for a later posting in the war when he was in Albania. Quayle was very impressed by the commitment and skills of the patrols. Some of the men under him he thought had some of the finest field craft skills he had ever seen. There are several well documented stories about exercises that took place and the confusion caused to their regular target, the 51st Highland Division.

A one armed mole catcher was one of Quayle’s favourites. He was a top marksman winning one of the Coleshill competitions. Quayle said of Robson “that man could kill a jerry everyday for the rest of his life and never get caught” One of the Area C/Os Alan Carmichael had Quayle stay at his farm at Todburn where Quayle showed his softer side bathing the Charmichael’s son. My old next door neighbour’s mother was Housekeeper for the family and confirmed Quayle’s visits and the no questions asked when the pair disappeared for a few days at a time. Another stopping off point for Quayle was the McBride’s farm at Pegswood near Morpeth. Here he would always make an entrance by climbing in though a window rather than the door. He was very popular with the patrols and was always known as “Tony”.

In November 1941 Quayle left the Auxiliary Units and returned to the Coastal Artillery in Gibraltar. From here he started working for Lt/Gen Mason MacFarlane and through the contacts in this office he applied and was accepted for training with SOE.  He left for SOE on 17/11/43 and trained for the Albania Section. On New Years Eve 1943 the now Major Quayle was dropped with a wireless operator at Tragjas, Albania. Here he briefly met the man he was replacing, Jerry Field.  Field had been badly injured in an accident while fishing in ponds using explosives. Standing on a rock a charge went off as Field moved and he was blown some 30 feet down a rocky hillside where he suffered many broken bones. Quayle continued the SOE work with the Partisans under Enver Hoxha. Illness was Quayle’s next enemy he went down with Maleria and Jaundice and was repatriated to the UK on 3/4/44.

After recovering he moved to Section ME66, Allied Control Commission (Office of Chief Commissioner).

Anthony Quayle

Photograph of John Anthony Quayle from his SOE File. 

Anthony Quayle on Wikipedia

The National Archives at Kew, and local research.