Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base

This page as last updated at 2:13pm on 23/3/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Cornwall. The info below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford.

If you can provide any more info please email

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.

Porthleven is a fishing port near Helston, South West Cornwall.

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) 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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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. Mullion was part of Group 2 along with Manaccan, Porthleven and St Keverne. They were under the Group Command of Lieutenant Walter Eva and 2nd Lieutenant Leslie Bawden both from Manaccan.

The Area Commander was Captain H W Abbiss from Truro. In January 1945 Captain Abbiss was awarded the MBE ( Military Division)

The four Patrol Sergeants and Group Commanders met once a week at Porthleven in a back room of The Ship Inn. The daughter of Lt Walter Eva can remember sometimes being allowed to accompany her father. The disappointment of having to sit in the car was soon overcome by fish and chips on the way home.

Manaccan Officers

Officers and NCO'S in the Lizard Area.
Back L-R : Sargent Harry Moore, Sargent Frank Strike, Sargent John Gilbert and Sargent Sinclair James. Front L-R; 2nd Lt Leslie Bowden, IO Captain John “Jack” Dingley and Lt Walter Eva.

Late summer 1940

Sergeant Frank Strike
Corporal George Davey
Fred Chigwidden
Fred Allen
Robbie Pascoe
Hedley Orchard

Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol

Back: Fred Allen, Fred Chegwidden.
Front: Robbie Pascoe, Sergeant Frank Strike, Corporal George Davey.

Using the addresses on the Nominal Roll to place Auxiliers in their Patrols, the following men are likely to have been in Porthleven Patrol:

Gerald Lee
G H Elliott discharged to HM Forces May 1943
R Jackett-Simpson discharged at own request Sept 1942
John H Toy transferred to 8th Helston HG May 1943

Patrols from the Lizard, Cornwall

Patrols from The Lizard.
Back Row L-R: Hubert Hicks, Reg Lyne, Walace Rogers, Marcell Plantain, Leslie Roberts, Gilbert Richards, Freddy Chegwiidden, Eric Bennetts, Melville Peters.

Middle Row: ? , William Leggo, ? , Harry Tressider, ?, Gerald Lee, ?, Sidney Williams.

Front Row: John Gilbert, Frank Strike, Leslie Bawden, Capt John Dingley, Walter Eva, Sinclair James, Harry Moore.

The OB is thought to be collapsed and partly filled in over the years. Built by the Patrol, the design differed from more standard OBs. Occupying a prime location the OB was overlooking the main road leading from the safe harbour of Porthleven to the larger town of Helston

A break in an old stone wall was concealed by a hatch which was opened by lifting the attached ivy. This led into a wood lined tunnel 6-7 feet long. There was then a drop down to the more familiar OB structure of a corrugated iron hut approximately 12 x 16 feet. A further wood lined tunnel came off the main body of the OB leading to a smaller area where some of the explosives were stored.
There was no escape tunnel.

The location of the entrance tunnel can just be made out in the stone wall where the predominantly horizontal stones change to being laid vertically and there is a depression in the ground just above and behind this anomaly

Orientation of OB: East to West

Observation Post: It is remembered that there was an Observation post on the edge of open farmland linked to the OB by a wire concealed in a boundary hedge.

Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

Looking towards OB location

Other physical remains nearby: There maybe remains of the nearby observation post but modern farming methods and the fact it was a wooden structure would make this unlikely.

Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

B3304 from Porthleven to Helston. OB location at top of the bank.

It is known that practice raids were run on the nearby RAF Trelevear Radar station.

Training took place at Porthpean in St Austell Bay. It was ran by Captain Robin Williams who is remembered as a tall, dark, thin man, full of life and enthusiasm.

There were weekend training courses for setting explosives and grenade throwing.

It is known that, from this Patrol, at least Sgt Frank Strike went to Coleshill.

Pistol shooting practice took place on a range at Highburrow, an area to the East of Porthleven Harbour.

Issued with the standard equipment and explosives which were stored between the OB and Frank Strikes' workshop.

All explosives and weapons were returned at stand down. Magnets, intended to be used to connect explosives to tanks and railway lines etc were later donated to BROM at Parham by Victor Strike.

Victor also remembers his fathers Bren Gun being kept in their front room. He would sometimes use it to take pot shots at the local seagulls which his mother was not best pleased about.

Exploring his fathers workshop with a friend, Victor remembers a pin being pulled out of a hand grenade, he is still not sure why they were not blown sky high.

Sergeant Frank Strike was a builder and undertaker. A post war local councillor he was highly regarded in the community. He had previously worked in Scotland mining and had been in the Royal Engineers in WW1.

Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol 5

Sergeant Strike.

Although Corporal George Davey appeared in the stand down photographs he officially is recorded to have been transferred to Plymstock (Devon) Auxiliary Unit. He was awarded the defence medal.

Fred Allen was a fishing net manufacturer.

Fred Chigwidden aka “ Pudden” was a blacksmith. As a staunch Methodist Fred was tee total and would often be heard giving sermons. He did not always take the banter of his fellow Auxiliers with good humour.

Robbie Pascoe was a coal merchant mostly still using his donkey and cart for deliveries.

Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol 6

Robbie Pascoe

Gerald Lee was known to be a crack shot and good with explosives.

Hedley Orchard was a carpenter.

Elliott charted his fishing boat to take people out fishing.

Jackett-Simpson was from a prominent family in Helston who owned a garage. He was discharged in Sept 1942 by his own request.

Porthleven was the home town of Dambusters Commanding Officer, Guy Gibson.

Porthleven Auxiliary Unit Patrol 7

Photograph of Porthleven as it appeared in Militärgeographische Angaben uber England.

This was produced as a “guidebook” for the Nazi invasion, Operation Sealion.

Victor Strike, son of Sgt Strike

Susan Carter, daughter of Lt Eva.

Alwyn Harvey recorder for Defence of Britain Database

TNA ref WO199/3391

Hancock data held by B. R. A

1939 Kellys Directory

If you can help with any info please contact us.