Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Lieutenant W. Ashby – Scout Section Officer

Last updated on 4/7/16

Lt Ashby Born: 3 March 1910 London.
Parents: Joseph Henry and Emily Louisa Ashby nee Woolman married 1906, Westminster
Educated: Westminster
Died: 22 April 1953 Roehampton Hospital
Commissioned: 1940 Queens Royal Regiment.

 Lt W. ASHBY 1940


Family and Pre War Years
Grew up living on the Peabody Buildings, Westminster, with 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Worked as Assistant Manager in the Gaumont British Cinema until 1933. Married Emily Dodson 6 February 1937

Military Service


Enlisted into the East Lancashire Regiment No.3385034

29/3/1934 Appointed L/Cpl Posted to 1st Battalion
20/12/1934 Posted overseas to Saar Plebiscite with ‘D’ Company Returned Feb 1935


After WW1 the SAAR was under the control of the League of Nations

In the plebiscite of January 13th 1935, over 90% of the electorate voted for a return to the German Reich, the battalion was present for the voting

The band leading the Battalion arrives.


9/1/1936 Posted to Egypt. A keen sportsman. Middle East Boxing Champion  
2/1/1937 Returned to England. Promoted to Corporal – Lance Sergeant  
Jan-Mar 38 Attended course at Hythe Small Arms School  
1938-39 Northern Ireland – on leave in London and on 23 August received a telegram:
20/10/1939 Posted to OCTU Bulford. Officer Training  
17/2/1940 Discharged from East Lancs - Appointed as 2 Lt Queens Royal Regiment.  
18/2/1940 Promoted War Substantive Lieutenant with the Infantry Training Company  
9/11/1940 Posted to GHQ Auxiliary Units, Coleshill   
10/11/1940 Appointed Scout Section officer – East Suffolk Scouts   



Photo shows him with his men who made up the team responsible for selecting the site locations of the 18 Operational Bases in East Sussex and training all the Patrol members in clandestine warfare.

County Head Quarters was at Tottington Manor.


Posted to 13 Holding Battalion.

While there he met Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Hart Dyke who was about to take command of the Hallamshire Battalion of the York & Lancashire Regiment and was looking for an Adjutant and offered him the post.

6/11/1943 Appointed Acting Captain and posted to the Hallams as Adjutant.
Their task was to prepare the battalion to become an assault battalion ready for D-Day.
6/2/1944 Temporary Captain  

Battalion moved from East Anglia and embarked for Normandy as part of 49 Infantry Div.

Landing on Gold Beach on D+4 the Hallams moved forward to come into contact with the crack 12 SS Panzer Division. Operation ‘Martlet was launched aimed at pushing inland towards Rauray. Bitter fighting followed.

19/6/1944 Relinquished appointment as Adjutant and took over Command of a Company.  
25/6/1944 Appointed Acting Major – the Hallams capture Fontenay le Pesnel and prepare to move on.  
27/6/1944 The battalion had reached Tessel Wood and dug in awaiting a counter attack.  
28/6/1944 The battalion commander called his officers together for a briefing. As the group broke up a sniper opened up and Major Ashby was wounded with a bullet hitting his spine.
He was evacuated back to the UK.
24/2/1945 Relinquished his commission on account of his disability.  

 Certificates Awarded By T. Hart Dyke & Montgomery







Troops at Coleshill 





Lt Ashby front row 2nd from left thought to be taken at Coleshill House with other Aux Officers.

Can anyone name them?

 Lt Ashby in Sussex 

Lt Ashby, centre, taken in Sussex

Post War

Having been evacuated back to the UK it was quickly explained that the snipers bullet remained lodged in his spine and the loss of movement and feeling was permanent.

The first two hospitals were not use to treating paraplegics and permitted sitting for too long which resulted in horrendous bed sores.  The third hospital was Stoke Mandeville which was in a different league altogether.  The wards were full of young fit servicemen who had lost the use of their legs.  Frustrating and challenging to them all but as patients together they took those frustrations out on the poor nurses who were teased and became the butt of many jokes.




Stoke Mandeville  Ward 2X
Summer with beds outside 

Stoke Mandeville became home for four years.  During those years Major Ashby was active and began to encourage participation in sports like archery.  He was also on various committees.  One began to look at obtaining transport and eventually a London bus was cut down and modified with a ramp at rear so that wheelchairs could be carried. 


 Watch Repairs     

 1948 Testing the Bus

In 1949 Major Ashby was at last discharged to live with his wife and son in a specially adapted apartment on the Haig Homes Estate at Morden.  He had 4 years of living as a family before kidney failure.

He was taken to Roehampton Hospital where he died on 22 April 1953

Our thanks to Bill Ashby for providing this detailed information on his father and sponsoring this page.