Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Queenborough Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 6:23pm on 22/6/12

Thank you for selecting information on the Queenborough Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base on the Isle of Sheppy. The info and images below have been supplied by CART CIO for Kent, Phil Evans.

The first I.O for Kent was Grenadier Guards Captain Peter Fleming. He was the man responsible for setting up the Units in Kent under the name of the XII corps Observation Unit. In late 1940 he left and a Royal Fusilier Captain Norman Field then took over as I.O. At some point in Normans command he split Kent in two. West Kent came under the command of Captain George MacNicholl and Norman commanded East Kent. In late 1941 Norman was taken away from the Units and George MacNicholl took over as I.O. for the whole of Kent for the rest of the war.

Formed at some point in 1940 part of Isle of Sheppey Group run by Group Leader Lt. William G Johnson.

Patrol Leader Frank Wallace (ex-Regular)
Ernie Beer
Peter Woolley
Jack Donald (dockyard worker)
John Collis (butcher)
Jack Quaintance (chemical factory worker)

All that is known about the O.B. was that it was under a stockyard but was never finished. Not known where the location is.

The men chosen all worked in the dockyards or on the industrial estates; the idea being to destroy these facilities in the event of an invasion.

Jack Quaintance: “We never went to Coleshill but were trained in secret by Lovat Scouts and Royal Engineers at Harty and at The Garth, Bilting, where the CO was Captain McNicholl of the London Scottish TA. He had an Alsatian dog. I also met Captain Thomas Neame at The Garth.

“We were shown how to make vicious booby traps such as a hole full of sharp flints in the side of a bank activated by a trip wire. Perfect for killing motorcycle riders and foot soldiers. We also put booby traps under cushions and attached explosives to the toilet chains inside water cisterns. Good joke and Jerry loses his head.

“No-one from our day-to-day lives knew who we were or what we had been trained to do. Secrecy was our creed. Our training was as realistic as possible and we would raid installations on the Island guarded by Regulars and Home Guard. The sentries were armed with live ammunition and didn’t know we were coming. If we had been seen we would have been shot.

Jack Quaintance: “We were armed with .38 Smith and Wesson revolvers from the US Navy, Fairbairn Sykes commando knives, Thompson .45 sub machine guns with box magazines, .300 Remington rifles, and 9mm Sten guns. We carried the Stens as you would a shotgun and shoot at string-pull targets. We also had a Winchester .22 bolt action rifle with 5-shot magazine, silencer and telescopic sights for taking out German officers. Jolly good tool, very tradesman-like. I enjoyed shooting it."

Jack Quaintance: “At the beginning of the war I worked in a chemical factory in Sheerness, where I was also a messenger for the ARP wardens. I joined the Queenborough Home Guard when I was 16. Before the war I was a member of the local small-bore shooting club so I could already handle a rifle.
“In 1941 I was approached by a local farmer, Lieutenant W G Johnson, who asked if I wanted to join some rough stuff. I signed the Official Secrets Act and reported to a farm at Cowstead Corner belonging to Lt. Johnson. Our OB was under the stockyard, but it was never finished and we never used it.

“If the Germans had invaded we didn’t expect to last long, but we were young and well prepared to get on with the job. Let the bastards come. In the beginning we believed the Germans would come at any moment, but as the war went on this subsided. Prior to D - Day in June 1940 we were offered a crash course in parachuting and told that we were going to be dropped behind German lines in Normandy, but nothing came of it.

“We were eventually stood down in November 1944 and returned to our normal lives. We never received any official recognition at the time, but I later received the Defence Medal. I joined the Royal Navy early 1945 and served on HMS Ajax. As soon as the war ended we were sent to the River Platte, Uruguay, to pick up the German sailors from the Graf Spee. I later served in Palestine and Israel.”

Information was kindly given to us by Adrian Westwood.

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