Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Happisburgh Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.

This page was last updated 3/2/14

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

The patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 4 which also included

Hoveton patrol and Neatishead patrol 

CO Lt LS Harris (1940 – 1943), schoolteacher - Field House, Hoveton.
National reg. Number: TRXZ 170/1

Capt RW Eades - Norwich Wayside, Frettenham, St. Friths

• Capt Reginald William Eades started as Lt and was later promoted to Capt. He was Group 1 and 4 A & Q (Adjutant and Quartermaster). When Lt LS Harris was called up in 1943, Eades was promoted to Capt and Group 4 area CO.
(Info: Stephen Lewins)

It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.

Sgt George Mervyn Deane (Gaywood, Cromer Road, North Walsham)
Cpl Hubert Barnard Sands (Brumstead Grange, Stalham) (Read more about Hubert under More Info below)
William Love (The Chimneys, Walcot) *
John Edward Owles (Park Farm, Witton) **
Philip John Harmer (Manor Farm, Witton)
Alexander Herbert Dawson (North Walsham) ***
P Harmer (Manor Farm, Happisburgh)
George Milligen (Read more about George under More Info below)

Bacton Wood is owned by the Forestry Commission and managed through a partnership with North Norfolk District Council. The woodland is open to the public.

The woodland is located about 2.5 kilometres to the north-east of North Walsham and roughly the same distance to the west of Witton Bridge. The OB site is situated near a path leading along the northern edge.

A deep crater is all that remains. We presume that the structure including all materials was removed by the Forestry Commission when the woodland was developed as a recreational area for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Happisburgh Auxiliary Unit 1

Happisburgh Auxiliary Unit 2

Happisburgh Auxiliary Unit 3

According to Mr Owles and his sister, both of whom were taken to the site by their late father in the 1950s and who have visited the OB several times since, the main chamber consisted of a Nissen hut type structure with a curved roof and a drop down entrance shaft lined with corrugated sheets at its southern end.

The estimated size of the OB is 3 x 5 metres with a N/S -- 164ft ASL Orientation.

The entrance cover was camouflaged with a layer of leaves.

A pipe hidden within a hollow tree stump was placed near the entrance. According to Mr Owles this concealed pipe was used for dropping messages down into the chamber.

The main chamber was adjoined at the north-east end by a small room used for storing explosives.

Happisburgh Auxiliary Unit 4

The emergency escape exit was situated by the north-west corner. From there the exit passage ran in a zig-zag course for 45 metres, emerging at the woodland’s edge. The whole length of it was covered with corrugated sheeting.

Observation Post/s:  Currently unknown

Currently unknown

Training nr Aldershot. Attack on Rackheath Hall. Training with explosives and sticky bombs.
Officer died during explosives training ??

 Currently unknown

* Wm. Love, who had a nanny and insisted that he took his toast and marmalade when he went out on a Sunday morning.

** Charles Owles, son of John Owles is still farming in Witton.

*** AH Dawson was a Vet in North Walsham and was best man at JE Owles’ wedding.

"The late George Milligen was no ordinary Norfolk farmer. Born into a privileged family, his father being a successful industrialist, George’s decision to embark on a farming career was a bold one and from the outset he saw the advantages of mechanised farming at a time when the horse was still the most frequent sight on Norfolk farms. This foresight undoubtedly contributed to George’s success in his farming career and this in turn enabled him to indulge his passion for all things mechanical, provided that they intrigued his inquisitive mind. Around his East Ruston Manor Farm at Stalham, the mildly eccentric Milligen was a familiar sight in any one of his amazing collection of early motor cars, whether at high speed at the wheel of his 1929 Supercharged Mercedes-Benz SSK, tootling along in his 1909 AX Renault, keeping an interested eye on his neighbours’ crops, or more spectacularly keeping the pressure up on one of his steam vehicles, his collection embracing not only the 1896 Salvesen Steam Cart, now such a regular sight on Brighton Road, the 1909 15hp White Steamer or this highly spectacular London to Brighton-eligible Gardner-Serpollet" [Source:]
Edward has been in touch with us to say the following 'My grandfather worked for George on his return after six years in the REME during WWII and continued to help him with his cars for the rest of his life.  I have great memories as a child of driving around in an amazing range of vehicles.  My grandfather also said that one of his first jobs on his return was to dismantle a barn full of anti-personel devices (both explosive and spring powered) that the ever ingenious George had been stockpiling in case of invasion.'

Cpl Hubert Benard Sands went on (with his son Neal) to develop one of the first forward control agricultural sprayers and found the Sands group of companies (Sands Agricultural Services, Sands Agricultural Machinery, Sands Engineering, etc.) which are very well known in Norfolk agriculture, and his granddaughter is married to the England rugby player, Tom Youngs.

A Hoare, Standing up to Hitler (2002) – map page 222. Mrs Sands (widow of Cpl Hubert Barnard Sands); Charles Owles (son of patrol member JE Owles), Witton (personal interview); Stephen Lewins CART CIO Northumberland, Email from Edward.

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