Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Ringwood A Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 6:44pm on 14/3/13

Thank you for selecting information on the Ringwood A Auxiliary Unit Patrol located in Hampshire. The info below has been compiled by Dr Will Ward CART CIO for Dorset.

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.

The patrol was part of Group 1 in Hampshire, Commanded by Captain A J Champion, who was also area commander for all the West Hampshire groups. The assistant commander of Group 1 was Lt L D C Ayles. The Probert family remember both Champion and Ayles being involved.

Not known by CART.

Name DOB Occupation   Died
Sgt. Leslie Charles "Elsie" Probert   16/11/1900 Butcher 1988
Pte. John Rutland Probert   06/07/1923 Butcher’s assistant Joined August 1941 1967
Pte. R  Pritchard   15/05/1911 Joined June 1943
Pte. William S Stephenson    02/10/1904 Joined April 1942
Pte. William Charles Crutcher   09/10/1906 Joined June 1942 1980

The patrol names for the west of Hampshire and the New Forest have been identified from National Archives file WO199/3391, but are not divided by patrol. The nominal roll gives the surname, initials, ID card number and address, together with date of birth. The patrols have been arranged according to the addresses and ID card numbers around known patrol leaders. This means the allocations may not be completely accurate. Additional personal information such as first names and dates of death have been added using the 1911 census, and

Elsie Probert was a butcher with a shop on Southampton Road, Ringwood. His nickname came from the sound of the initials of his name. Some of the patrol supplies were reportedly kept at the butchers shop where the family lived for the early part of the war. These included the rum jar, which was dropped and smashed by Elsie Probert’s 14 year old son Peter, who particularly remembers the trouble he got into for this! Other “iron rations” were stored there as well. John Probert, was almost Elsie’s eldest son who helped out in the shop and joined the unit when he was 18. He wasn’t eligible for call up apparently due to flat feet, but served with Auxiliary Units instead. He tended to be in charge of the shop most of the time as Elsie was also a meat agent for the Ministry of Food, which involved travelling all over Hampshire, including the Isle of Wight. Both seem to have been quite secretive about what they were up to and rarely mentioned it, even after the war and even then usually only in vague terms. It was said that a requirement of membership was the ability to swim the river in full kit. This surprised Elsie’s children who didn’t think he could have managed this.

Bill Stephenson was the local chemist. His shop was just three doors down from the Probert’s butcher shop on Ringwood road. The Butchers was alongside Woolworth’s and had a pillbox outside.

R Pritchard isn’t known for certain to have been a member of the patrol, but in the nominal roll, his address has been switched for John Probert’s, with the men being one beneath the other in the handwritten roll. This suggests they were in the same unit as the men seem to have been added to each alphabetical page in unit order.

William Charles Crutcher isn’t remembered by the Probert family by name. However, Mary remembers an incident where one of the patrol members was shot in the foot accidentally while in the Operational Base. Her mother was not best pleased that a man had been hurt and she said that they were nothing more than stupid schoolboys! William Crutcher put in a claim after the war for a disability pension, something he could only have done if injured in training. Therefore it seems likely he was the man who was injured.

Bill Stephenson became a president of Ringwood Rotary club after the war, an honour also achieved by 3 other members of Auxiliary Units from the Ringwood area.

There was an underground bunker in the vicinity of Hangersley Hill, which Elsie’s daughter learnt about when confronted at the breakfast table one morning. Her father had been able to see that she had been in the area with a soldier the night before as he had been training at the OB and took her to task over the matter.

Peter Probert recalls that there was an underground bunker in the woods near Somerley House. It is known that there was a unit there, so the men may have trained together.

These are likely to have included the airfield at Ibsley.

The patrol are known to have trained at Avon Castle, also known to have been used by other patrols in the area. They used thunderflashes in training. They may also have met up with the Somerley patrol to train on the estate.

The patrol would conduct the training practices outlined here

The Proberts are known to have had revolvers and a knuckleduster as these were brought home. Detonators, hand grenades and ammunition were stored in a garage near the house. The patrol would generally have the weapons shown here

Nothing currently.

Personal correspondence with Matt, Peter and Mary Probert, grandson and children respectively of Leslie Probert.