Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Fakenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base

This page was last updated at 9:09am on 7/1/14


Thank you for selecting information on the Fakenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Norfolk. Most of the info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.

The patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 10 which also included Hockwold, East Dereham and Lakenheath/Thetford Patrols.

CO Capt Walter G Gentle (Brandon) - Local butcher and pig farmer specialising in saddleback pigs. His nickname was ‘Hoggie’.

Captain Gentle M.C. was awarded the M.B.E. in the 1945 New Year's Honours List for "Services rendered to the 202 Battalion Home Guard".

2nd Lt. Eric G Field, brother of Sgt. Philip R. Field
2nd Lt R.F.St.B Wayne
2nd Lt DC Carey
? 2nd Sgt GR Holmes

Not Known

Sgt Bertam Warnes
Cpl Charles John Williams
Pte George Brown
Pte Ralph Fuller
Pte Harry Gates
Pte Donald Frank Gilder
Pte Ernest ‘Ernie’ Charles Huggins - blacksmith
Pte F J Napp (transferred)
Pte G Dawson (transferred)

The OB is situated on private land. The land is owned by the 8th Marquess Townshend and was accessed by kind permission.

Fakenham Auxiliary Unit 1

Fakenham Auxiliary Unit 2

It was built into alluvial gravel and sand deposits on the Fakenham side of the Raynham Estate. In the 1940s the area was covered by woodland.

Many of the trees were blown down in the Great Storm in 1987. It was during tree clearance work that estate workers accidentally drove over the entrance shaft with heavy machinery, resulting in its collapse. A glazed ceramic field pipe emerging into the entrance shaft is still in situ. (Seen above)

Fakenham Auxiliary Unit 3

(Above) The exposed end wall of the main chamber was blocked with corrugated sheeting in order to make it inaccessible. At some later time the exit also collapsed, exposing the upper rim of the structure and creating a small opening in the surrounding soil.

Fakenham Auxiliary Unit 5

Sections of corrugated sheeting forming the end walls were pushed into the main chamber where they remain to-date. (Above) Circular cut-outs in some of the sheets denote where vent pipes would once have been passed through. As far as we were able to ascertain, there was at least one vent pipe at each end.

Fakenham Auxiliary Unit 4

The main chamber is a standard size (16 x 9 ft) elephant shelter and intact, apart from missing sections of end wall. Over time soil has trickled into the interior, considerably raising the floor level. The layer of topsoil covering the chamber is about 2ft (60 cm) thick.

A lookout post may have been about 50 yards north of the OB site. No traces remain.

Our thanks go to Charles 8th Marquess Townshend, Raynham Hall, for his kind permission to visit and record the site.

RAF Sculthorpe, RAF Raynham; Mid-Norfolk (GER) railway line.

Locally and at Leicester Square Farm near Syderstone.

Sten or Thompson submachine guns, Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives and .38 revolvers plus a variety of explosives, detonators and fuses would have been standard issue.

Bob Wayne, son of 2nd Lt R.F.St.B Wayne has kindly provided the following recollections.

The young couple (Bob's Mother and Father) made contingency plans, if the balloon had gone up Father would have departed to the “woods”. They lived in a fairly remote farm house so they made an arrangement that if a vase was in a certain window it meant – it is safe to approach the house, if it was in another window it meant Germans are here, stay away.

Father would talk about certain incidents in training (like the apocryphal story of the inspecting regular officer who was challenged to find the entrance to the dugout, it was in the middle of a patch of stinging nettles and he was from a Scots regiment!) He never mentioned names and never disclosed the sites of the hides to us. We had plenty of paraphernalia, pressure switches, time pencils, a bullet mold, single ball 12 bore cartridges, safety fuse lying about when we were young, I still have some of the original manuals.

At some point my Father became an explosives instructor, possibly a peripatetic bomb man. He always liked to tell the story of doing an explosive course on Fakenham Race course. As a grand finale they put a charge in the middle of a pond at the back of the car park. As anticipated a column of black mud went up in the air – laced with hundreds of flying gin bottles!  

The other story which I cannot authenticate is that according to family folk lore  my Grandfather (Fred W’s father in law) Col Q. E. Gurney (Home Guard) was also involved in the Auxiliary Units. The story goes that as well as being the local HG commander he was also to be used as a liaison officer conveying orders, and possibly ammunition and medical supplies. As such he would not have been attached to or would have trained with any of the cells. This is plausible:

They lived about 8 miles from my parents and I assume my mother would have had a lot of contact with her mother but it was only after the war that they acknowledged that they were both in the AU but the mother and daughter had never mentioned it.

John Sutton (gamekeeper); Stephen Lewins CART CIO Northumberland, Bon Wayne.

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