Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Hockley Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 11:12am on 1/2/15

Thank you for selecting information on the Hockley Auxiliary Unit Patrol located in Essex. The info below has been compiled by Dr Will Ward CART CIO for Dorset.

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.

“Jack” Ford (Cecil George Ford) was the Group Commander. He may also have been the first patrol leader of the Hockley unit.

It is not clear exactly when he patrol was formed. Bert Cocks recalled being invited by Jack Ford, later Group Commander, to a meeting with high ranking Army officers, along with other local men. They were asked to sign he Official Secrets Act and told about Auxiliary Units. Berts Cocks Home Guard certificate records he was a member from 7th January 1941, and he was in the Home Guard before joining Auxiliary Units.

Name DOB Occupation   Died
Sgt. Jack Rodwell    
Cpl Albert Edwards Cocks 2004
Pte. Jim Drysdale
Pte. Michael Ford 3/8/1928 Schoolboy Joined 1943, son of Jack Ford
Pte. G E Clarke
Pte O F B Marshall
Pte Albert B Vyse 1921  
Pte. L G Nice          

Michael Ford recalled that the patrol consisted of himself and 8 others, including Sergeant Jack Rodwell and Corporal Bert Cocks.

Cpl H K Baldwin was the first patrol corporal, but left to replaced by Bert Cocks.

The Hockley patrol was one of the few Auxiliary Units to make contact with the enemy. They were asked to find a parachutist who had been seen to fall near Fambridge. The patrol crossed the marshes using their local knowledge and found he had landed in the mud. The formed a human chain to reach him and pull him out. The German aviator was in a bad way and only too happy to be rescued!

The men of the patrol are seen in the group photo on the Group overview page here

The Operational Base (OB) was in the southeast corner of Trinity Woods. Bert Cocks recalled that it had been built by the Royal Engineers and was a typical elephant shelter roughly 30 feet by 12 feet. The OB had an entrance hatch constructed with a counter balance arrangement similar to that seen in the drawing provided on courses at Coleshill.

As originally built, the OB did not have an escape tunnel. This was later added by the patrol themselves, who started a three foot square tunnel and lined it with timber as they dug. The soil was loaded into sandbags and taken some distance away to be scattered, rather as seen in many wartime PoW escape movies. The aim was a 60 foot tunnel, but having dug less than 30 feet, the patrol was stood down.

Bert Cocks tried to locate the OB in the 1990s, but could find no trace of it.

Currently unknown

Each of the patrol went to Coleshill House for training. Bert Cocks recalled that the staff were all of the really tough sort. He described how the were shown drawings of the high estate walls and ditches, then dropped individually 3 miles away, with instructions to find their way back to the main house. He managed well, until confronted with the high walls around the estate, and already wet and tired he decided to try and sneak through a small arched gateway in the wall, but a member of the staff was waiting for him behind the wall! Michael Ford recalled being taught unarmed combat at Coleshill as well as how to use explosives.

The patrol also travelled up to Suffolk to train, using gravel or clay pits on the outskirts of Eye. Later they used a disused quarry near Ballard’s Gore in Essex.

Another exercise involved the South Essex patrols cooperating to lead an Army Patrol (the Scout Section perhaps?) across the district guided by members of each patrol. Rochford patrol deliver the lieutenant and 10 men to Bert at the edge of Trinity Wood and he lead them through the pitch black woods relying on the gradient of the land and his knowledge alone. The lieutenant was very impressed and said so as he was handed over to the Rayleigh patrol.

On another occasion, Bert was leading the patrol in the dark and suddenly came across a newly erected stile. He turned to let the rest of the patrol know, but in the dark, Jack Rodwell walked straight into him and they clashed head, Jack falling to the ground unconscious. Cold and wet, they covered him with their jackets, until he fortunately recovered a short while later.

The patrol put on a demonstration for visiting “big-wigs” working with Rochford patrol. The 4 visiting officers, guided by Jack Ford, saw a a mock-up tank, which was blocked by a tree being cut down in its path and demolished by a pre-laid mine. Other displays of booby traps were made and an attack across a series of lakes in an old brickfield by Canewdon Hall Farm. This didn’t go too well for one of the Rochford patrol who fell in up to his neck, swallowing mouthfuls of muddy water. He had to be wrapped and spared the rest of the exercises.

The patrol were issued with the usual selection of explosives, detonators, detonating cord and various fuses. They had pull & pressure switches, hand grenades, smoke bombs and thunderflashes. They had ordinary and plastic explosive.

Each man had a pistol and a dagger. Michael Ford recalled he was issued with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver.

Bert Cocks, along with Arthur Gabbitas, former Royal Signals Corporal with SDS, arranged reunions of Aux Units personnel in East Anglia at the Garrison Officers Club in Colchester between 1995 and 2000.

National Archives file WO199/3389

Imperial War Museum Sound Recording 15243/1 (Michael Ford interview)

“Churchill’s Secret Army 1939-45 and other recollections” by Bert Cocks