Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Overbury Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 12/7/15 at 7:06am.

Thank you for selecting information on the Overbury Auxiliary Unit Patrol in Worcestershire. The info below have been supplied by our internal archive.

The biblical code name was not remembered for this patrol.

Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information above is published from various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not listed above 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.

Worcestershire (Groups 1a and 1b) formed part of area 19 which also included Herefordshire, Monmouthshire (Group 3) and latterly from 1943 part of Glamorganshire (Groups 4a and 4b).

The first intelligence officer was Captain John Ellerman Todd who had been a London stockbroker before the war. Known to be a character but dressed as the country gent it is believed he lived at Llanfihangel Crucorny in Monmouthshire. Recruited to SOE, Todd was replaced by Captain Christopher Sandford and the area headquarters became Eye Manor near Leominster. A later Intelligence Officer included Captain Lloyd Bucknell RA.

Worcestershire Group 1a consisted of three Patrols: Bishampton (“David”) Patrol, Overbury Patrol and Alfrick (“Jehu”) Patrol.

Area Commander for both groups in Worcestershire was Captain Lewis E Van Moppes.
Group commander of 1a Patrols was his brother Lt Edmund M van Moppes.

It is thought that stores were held at Wolverton Hall, the home of Company Quartermaster Sergeant Thomas Dawe.

Many Auxiliers recall Sergeant Thurston Holland-Martin of Overbury Patrol as having a roll in recruiting and training.

Worcestershire,  Herefordshire and Monmouthshire Patrols were given Biblical code names. It is assumed this was an initiative of Todd to prevent the use of patrols locations names. 

Currently unknown.

Thurston Holland-Martin – Original Patrol Sergeant. Succeeded by:
Sergeant Basil Tadman– Farm Manager
Corporal Wilfred “Jack” Hall
Charlie Morris – Estate Plumber (after his accident was replaced by Edmund Atkins)
Alfred Henry  “Packie” Packwood
Reginald Wilkinson – Gamekeeper
Edmund Atkins

Thurston Holland-Martin was one of the senior organisers of Aux in Worcester and not just the Sergeant of the Overbury Patrol.

The patrol members all worked on the Overbury Court Estate and were recruited from the LDV.  They were recruited in an unusual way.  They were gathered on the village cricket field by the Holland-Marin family (estate owners) and some of the Home Guard men were ordered to the library at Overbury Court and were introduced to Captain Lloyd Buckall (the new IO for Herefordshire and Worcestershire – he replaced Captain Sandford).  Here they were sworn to secrecy and their new roles were explained them.

Thurston Holland-Martin left the patrol in 1942 and was replaced by Basil Tadman as Patrol Sergeant.  Jack Hall then became the patrols Corporal.

In 1944 the patrol went to the Isle of Wight to carry out guard duties near Cowes. 

Charlie Morris had a motorcycle accident on his way back to Dumbleton after taking part in Aux training at Overbury.  After this accident he did not participate in anymore of the patrols activities and was replaced by Edmund Atkins.

There are no surviving members from this patrol.

Basil remembered that Captain Bucknall was a horseman and the former Master of the Devon and Exeter Hounds. It was he who supplied the patrol with their arms & explosives. Captain Todd was not involved in recruiting Overbury nor does Basil remember meeting him at any other time.

Located in woodland south side of Bredon Hill, Overbury. Constructed by estate staff and apparently still exists in woodland south of Bredon Hill.  The OB was built in the corrugated style with a short escape tunnel and a tree stump was incorporated as part of the entrance.  The patrol used the tower on top of the hill as an OP. The OB was not equipped with a telephone. Explosives were stored in the OB. 

Overbury from the air

Overbury from the air.

The village of Overbury is situated on the southern slopes of Bredon Hill, Overbury Court can be seen just below Overbury Park.

The main chamber was constructed with corrugated steel sections and separate stores off it were provided for the explosives and food. A short escape tunnel was also provided which Basil remembered being of square section, lined with concrete block and curving a away from the OB. The whole structure was about 12 feet deep covered with soil and planted up with woodland shrubs and grass to camouflage it.

Overbury Court

Overbury Court. © Copyright Philip Halling

Basil Tadbury cannot remember precisely but possible targets could have been Overbury Court, Ashchurch RAOC storage depot and the top of Bredon Hill.

He thought the nearest railway line at Beckford was not of strategic importance, this being merely a local line and not a potential target for their attentions.

Initial training was carried out at Coleshill and local training took place on Bredon Hill or a the home of the van Moppes. They would meet other patrols for night exercises. Training for explosives, grenades and revolver practice was held at a quarry to the east of Sundial Farm on Bredon Hill.  This location was also used by other patrols although not at the same time.  The night exercises on Bredon Hill ranged over 5 miles. 

Basil estimated that their night scouting would extend for a maximum of about 5 miles which suggests that their
operational role would have been restricted to the locality, had there been an invasion. Basil was aware of course of the van Moppes brothers, as the Group Leaders, but Alec Fernihough, John Wythes, Roger Smith and Dick Phillips, he knew primarily)' as fellow members of the National Farmers Union. He also knew Dr Barling, but otherwise he was not aware of the other patrol members or their OBs as might be expected.

Captain Buckall supplied the patrols ammo.

The explosives were stored at their OB and Bail remembers PE, Nobel 808, Cordtex, Time Pencils Sticky Bombs and no. 36 Grenades being supplied for their use. He had kept one of the explosive storage boxes and this is now with his son-in-law. Unlike the other patrols in Worcestershire, the Overbury Patrol did not receive any automatic weapons or knives, only Smith and Wesson .38 revolvers.

Like most of the other Auxiliers, Basil does not recall any local courier or spying system, nor were the patrol issued with a field telephone or radio for communications, He could recall going to the van Moppes for instruction from time to time but that is all.

The Mercian Maquis by Bernard Lowry & Mick Wilks, TNA WO199/3389, Hancock data held at B.R.A, Steven Lewins, Interview with Basil Tadman by Mick Wilks in 2000, Dr Will Ward.