Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 8:29am on 18/3/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Coldingham Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base on the Borders. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Northumberland CIO, Stephen Lewins. 

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.

The patrol was part of No.4 Border Area 201 Bn. GHQ Reserve, Borders Group No.1.

The Group C/O was a gentleman farmer and race horse trainer from Houndwood. He was Captain G S Wight. Wight was also I/C most of the other Borders patrols, his own Group local to his farm included the following patrols:-

Little Spott – Dunbar
East Linton

Captain G S Wight was directly under Intelligence Officer Captain (later Major) Peter Forbes.

Captain Peter R A Forbes had been a regular before WW2. He served with the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders from 1935- 1939. Unfortunately Forbes was invalided damaging his elbow in a road accident at Catterick Garrison. Major McNichol was looking for someone to set up and run the Borders AU and Forbes applied and was accepted.

Captain Forbes took over Monksford House in Newton St. Boswells as his and the Borders HQ. The Stables were used to hide the materials for building the OB’s and the AU arms kits. Once fully set up training courses were run at the Stables with most members attending at sometime.

Captain P RA Forbes was I/O from mid 1941 until he left in mid 1943; he was popular among the patrols.

Early 1941.

Cpl A M Bell
Pte W Edgar
Pte R Denholm
Pte M Glen

The patrol OB is to the south of Cockburnspath in the Scottish Borders near Penmanshiel Tunnel on the East Coast Main Line.

The site is in Penmanshiel Wood worked by the Forestry Commission and open to the public though care must be taken as it is a working forest.

Ground Type: High and dry

Condition of OB: Fairly good with only the escape tunnel and entrances partially blocked with mud and some bricks.

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: The OB is a standard “Elephant “ type shelter made of corrugated iron and brick

Orientation of OB: Approx North to south

Observation Post: Not found though there are some wires run along the air vents presumably these lead to an O/P 

Other physical remains nearby: None

Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1

The entrance end of the OB.

 Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

Escape tunnel filled with mud and rubble.

Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 3

The escape end.

Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

An item found in the OB. It is a Voiding gauge as used on the railway. There would have been a wooden flat base that you slid under the rail and pushed up the short arm of the pointer until it touched the bottom side of the rail. When a train passed over the pointer would move and stay in place showing how much packing of the ballast was required to obtain a smooth ride. Totally non-military.

Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 5

A wire running up the air vent, possible phone cable to O/P

Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 6

A small bottle found in the OB possibly an ink bottle.

Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 7

Inset metal rungs for the entrance.

 Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit Patrol 8

The fence around the site put up by forestry workers.

All photographs are the property of James T M Towill

The East Coast railway line and the tunnel.
The Berwick to Newton St. Boswells railway line..
The main A1 road.
RAF Drone Hill “G” Chain Home Radar site on Coldingham Moor.
RAF Cockburnspath Chain Home Low Radar site.
Coldingham as may of the RAF staff were billeted in the local area.
The harbours at St. Abbs and Eyemouth

Mostly done locally, the area is sparsely populated and the patrol would have had plenty of opportunities to practice with explosives etc without fear of being discovered. The patrol leaders went on several weekend courses at Coleshill House. All the patrol members went to the Stables at Monksford House for instruction and demonstrations.

From 1942 patrols that were considered too far from Coleshill for it to be practicable to travel to and from over one weekend were sent written tests to complete.

Also used was Melville House near Cupar in Fife. 

Usual equipment supplied in the Aux kits is assumed. The usual Aux kit sent out in a crate and issued by the I/O. These contained explosives, time pencils and various switches.  Fuse wire and crimper. Grenades and 0.22 Sniper rifle. Pistols and Tommy guns as available the later were replaced with Sten guns.

Further research on this patrol is ongoing.

The National Archives at Kew and local research. A big thank you goes to James T M Towill from Greenlaw and Simon Walton for doing all the leg work and taking the pictures that he kindly allowed us to use on the site.

If you can help with any info please contact us.