Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Harberton Auxiliary Unit Patrol

Thank you for selecting information on the Harberton Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO Nina Hannaford.

This page was last updated at 8:34am on 11/8/14

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.

Harberton Village

View of Harberton Village showing Tristford House on the right of the church tower.
Photo courtesy of John Culf, Harberton Village website

From the very first meeting in Whitehall in July 1940 the Intelligence Officer for Devon and Cornwall (named Auxiliary Units SW Area) was Captain (later Major, then Colonel) J W Stuart Edmundson, an officer in the Royal Engineers. He liaised with the regular army and received supplies and equipment and formed all the Patrols. He was assisted by Lieutenant (later Captain) John “Jack” Dingley who became IO for Cornwall in 1943 though he may have assumed the roll before that.

In November 1943 Devon and Cornwall were separated and  Edmundson was succeeded in Cornwall by Captain John Dingley and in Devon by Major W W “Bill” Harston who would remain in command until near stand down. At the end of Harston's command he would cover “No 4 Region” being the whole of the South West Peninsular and Wales.
The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.

After 1941 a “grouping” system was developed where some patrols within a demographic area would train together under more local command.

At stand down Devon is registered as area 16. Harberton is part of Group 4 along with Marldon, Brixham, Stoke Gabriel and Newton Abbot Patrols under the command of Lieutenant (later Captin) Albert J Smith and 2nd Lieutenant (later Lieutenant) Edward J C Linscott. An earlier Lieutenant Arthur N Eversley-Green was discharged in Aug 1943 on medical grounds.

The South Devon Area Commander is Captain Cyril Wellington originally of Plympton Patrol.

Sometime in 1940.

Sergeant F Taylor of Harbertonford
Corporal Stanley Finch of Harbertonford
Private William Shinner of Harbertonford
Private Les Griffiths of Harberton
Private W White joined HM Forces Sept 1944

Also possibly:

Albert Lamble transferred to 13th Home Guard July 1943.
Edgar R Slocombe transferred to 13th Home Guard July.
JJ O'Neil of Wagland.
Henry Evans of Ashwell Farm.

The Operational Base is on PRIVATE land and was accessed by the kind permission of the owner. It is located within the Tristford Estate close to a sunken lane that runs to the South and East of the Estate.
The Base was built on a flat area near the top of the hill . The land drops away quite steeply to the West to a small stream below which could have been a useful way to arrive and leave the base unseen and there is the sunken lane to the South.

The landowner contacted the Army sometime in the 80's concerned about safety as it was known that local children played in the area. The family were kept away from the area until the Operational Base had been filled in.They were told explosives were removed.

Originally, when it was filled in, the Army created quite a mound. This has now subsided due to the possible collapse of the main roof structure. What could be the escape tunnel can now be seen.
The escape tunnel may run the 30ft to emerge in the bank of the sunken lane but could finish just before that as there is a small depression in the ground 10ft away from the base remains.

Harberton Auxiliary Unit OB 1

Looking down filled in Escape Tunnel.

Harberton Auxiliary Unit OB 2

Filled in OB by escape tunnel wall.

Harberton Auxiliary Unit OB 3

Looking over the top of the OB. Collapse in centre.

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: By measuring what appears to be the outline of the buried base it could be around 20 X 15 feet.

Orientation of OB: Operational Base with its emergency exit tunnel seems to run North to South.

Observation Post: Unknown

Harberton Auxiliary Unit OB 4

Sunken Lane where escape tunnel COULD have emerged.

These are assumed targets. The nearby town of Totnes has the lowest Road Bridge to cross the strategically important River Dart which is tidal up to that point.
The Totnes rail bridge, over the River Dart, carries the main Plymouth to Exeter line which continues up to London. Along the rail line nearby is the Rattery Viaduct and the mile ½ long Marley Tunnel.

Nothing currently.

 Unknown, but it is assumed that they had the standard weapons and explosives issued to all patrols.

Tristford House Harberton Patrol

Tristford House. Photo courtesy of Lionel Harper, Harberton Village website

Tristford Estate was used by the American Services for a time during the war but the house was owned and lived in by an ex Indian Army Major called Francis Trist. He rather neglected the house and estate and became slightly reclusive. The general decay of the estate would have made the Auxiliers movements less likely to be noticed., The Hooper family of Tristford Estate, Mark Shepherd, John Culf, TNA ref WOO199/339, Hancock data held at B.R.A

If you can help with any info please contact Nina by emailing