Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Leiston Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 8:20am on 2/1/16

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

The patrol had the codename “Seamew”. The name refers to the Common Sea Gull or Mew Gull (Larus canus).

It formed part of Framlingham Group (Group No 3 - North Suffolk) which also included

Sibton Patrol
Saxmundham (aka Carlton) Patrol
Wickham Market (aka Little Glemham) Patrol
Stratford St Andrew (aka Stratford) Patrol
Framlingham Patrol
Debenham Patrol
Easton Patrol and
Peasenhall Patrol

Group CO: Capt George Scott-Moncrieff
2nd Lt LWO Turner
3rd Lt TH Denny (later Major), Barkwith House, Leiston *

* Thomas Hamilton Denny, who went by his middle name of Hamilton, gained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the service of the 6th Battalion, Devon Regiment. He fought in the First World War. He gained the rank of Captain in the service of the 7th Gurkha Rifles. He was invested as a Member, Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) in 1942.

It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.

Sgt Ted Dunn (earlier patrol leader)
Sgt Baden Cracknell (later patrol leader)
Cpl Denis George Brown
Ailwyn Churchman
Leonard Churchman
Jack T Snowdon
Harold G Hammett
Cyril F Kemp
Eric W Baldry

Charles Bernard Kent (Non listed member, see below)

All were employees of Richard Garrett’s Engineering Works Ltd at Leiston. Most were serving members of the Home Guard before joining AU. (Info: BROM)

“We had the job of testing these Sten guns which were hopeless. We had to modify ours on Garrett's (machinery) to get them to fire a single shot otherwise they would go off on automatic on their own.” (Jack Snowdon, published in: Eastern Daily Press, 2009).

Mrs. Vivienne L. Reynolds from Suffolk has contacted us through BROM and claims her father was also a patrol member. His name does not appear on any official list but he has been identified by an Auxilier as a member of the patrol and so we have no reason to doubt the account. She writes;

'Charles Bernard Kent, who is my late father, and died in 1977 also worked at Richard Garrett's too, and was initially in the Home Guard. However he told me that he had a 'bit extra' too do if the German's had invaded. Saying very little, he said he had the job of making things difficult, when 'Jerry'  arrived and he was to blow up the railway lines just beyond the cemetery gates.

I asked if that was the Home Guards job and he said we were separate to them. Whilst a child I  occasionally played with his tool box, and found some odd things including 'C' shaped magnets etc. When I asked what they were he just said Magnets. Play with them if you wish. It was only when I visited the BROM I found, these magnets (Shaped so they could hold explosives and placed up under a vehicle)  in the display cases along with other items I had seen in the tool box as a child!

I met Ailwyn Churchman at Parham and he said, "Of course you knew your father was with our lot don't you." and when I said no, he went onto explain how my father Charles Bernard Kent was a member of the Leiston Auxiliary Unit Patrol. I told Ailwyn about the magnets etc. in the show cases and was surprised I did not know until then what their actual use was. My father  was an exceptionally brave and quiet  man, and never disclosed information about the Auxiliary units, and it is only since his death that it has now come out about what they did and the reason for their formation."

Jack, Denis and Ailwyn from Leiston Patrol pic from East Anglian Times 13th May 1997.

Information concerning the exact location of the OB site is conflicting:
DOB (in 1996) has it in a bomb crater on Leiston Common. According to their published report the OB was in bad condition. Materials used were clay, brick and corrugated iron.
According to BROM (using DOB’s reference for its location) the structure was damaged during clearance work but there were some remains (undated).
However, in an article published in the Eastern Daily Press (March 2009) one of the patrol members, Jack Snowdon, says:

“They took me on to Sizewell Common and they stood there talking to me and all of sudden out of the ground, on four little pillars, came about a yard square of turf and when it was lifted up about three feet off the ground on the steel pillars you could walk down a ladder underground.”

Sizewell Common adjoins Leiston Common in the south.
In personal communications (Aug 2011), Geoff Dewing told us that the OB’s location is on the southern edge of a woodland bordering on Sizewell common, about one kilometre to the south of Leiston Common. Geoff Dewing was taken to the site by Jack Snowdon and Al Churchman, two surviving members of Leiston patrol (both now deceased).

Leiston Auxiliary Unit

After several searches of the area and conversations with locals (one of whom had been in the OB as a boy and remembers having seen bunks and a table with candles on it), and also with some of the men who in 1996 - with the assistance of patrol members - found the OB site and dug a hole of approx one metre’s depth at the site, we finally managed to find and establish the exact location – mainly because Mr Geoff Dewing mentioned to us that an old rib roller was buried within the structure. Using a metal detector, this large piece of metal was fairly easy to find, given that we already had a good idea as to where, roughly, to look.

The OB was situated at the bottom of an old bomb crater. At the time of its construction it would have been located near the edge but (just) within the adjoining woodland, which in a severe gale in 1986, had lost many trees. The OB was damaged during tree clearance work and presumably filled in at that time.

Patrol member Jack Snowdon (in: Eastern Daily Press) says that: “There were six little bunks and the smell of almond - the smell of the explosive. We didn't use much of it until the time came for us to stand down. We took the surplus of the explosive into the countryside and blew a lump out of a tree.”
According to Geoff Dewing (pers comm.), “The Leiston OB was in poor condition when we found it (in 1996). There were broken pieces of ventilation pipes, rusted corrugated iron and rotting timbers. What we saw was dug out with the aid of hand tools. The location was pointed out to us at the time by two of the surviving members of the patrol. We did fill it in afterwards.”

Leiston Auxiliary Unit 2

All that remains (above) on the ground is a large crater-like depression which at the time of our visit in mid-September was covered with grass and some bracken.

Observation Post/s: Currently unknown.

Railway line and railway bridges in the vicinity.

Currently unknown

Unknown but it is assumed they had access to the normal weapons and equipment seen here.

Currently unknown

BROM (Parham); Geoff Dewing, Suffolk’s Secret Army (1996); Geoff Dewing (personal communications Aug 2011); articles in East Anglian Daily Times 13/05/1997 and Eastern Daily Press 17/3/2009; Stephen Lewins CART CIO Northumberland, Mrs. Vivienne L. Reynolds, BROM, Dr Will Ward.

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