Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Rowhedge Colechester B Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 8:00am on 26/9/15

Thank you for selecting information on the Rowhedge Colechester B Auxiliary Unit Patrol located in Essex. 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 2 (Colchester South) in Essex, Commanded by Lt. H.G. Denniss from Colchester. Captain, who was the area commander for all the North Essex groups.

Thought to be early 1940.


Date of Birth



Sgt. H W Allen

Pte. W H Warren

Pte A L Clark

Pte. Patrick H O’Mara

Pte. K A Welham

Pte. R C Michell

Left unit

Pte. F W Barrett

Left unit

Pte. J S Nice

Pte. S W Jones

Left unit

Pte. W Cullen

Transferred from Group 1

(Below) Patrol member Paddy O’Mara was photographed for “The Last Ditch”, by David Lampe. Lampe used Colchester library for much of his background research and travelling by train from Brightlingsea would have passed Paddy’s post war newspaper pitch outside Colchester station. It isn’t clear that Paddy spoke to Lampe, who obviously recognised his enamel Aux Units badge, worn in his beret. He doesn’t feature in the text or extensive name by name credits and possibly refused to talk to Lampe about his wartime experiences! I must have passed him myself a child growing up in Colchester, but didn’t realise the significance of the badge at the time.

Image from 'The Last Ditch'.

This OB has been allocated to the first patrol of the Colchester South Group (later Group 2), as the only patrol without a known OB in the area south of Colchester. However its location is some way from the known address of the patrol leader in Rowhedge. It is possible that there was another patrol in this group, disbanded before the nominal roll was drawn up, or that this was a second OB for the Birch patrol. It is also possible that it was an OB for the Essex Scout Section based at Earls Colne.

The OB is publicly accessible land at Pits Wood in Copford. Though almost completely collapsed, the overall design and construction can still be made out. It was built in area of previous sand and gravel extraction, which had left the land with a variety of pits and mounds, which obviously meant it was relatively easy to hide an OB and there was also good drainage of the site. The OB itself is built at the top of a bank between one of the main paths and a deep hollow. At the top of the bank is a rectangular chamber with a tunnel leading off into the main OB. The main OB has vent pipes in the side banking, which may indicate that they originally came out of either the upper wall of top of the roof. It is likely that other pipes entered the bottom of the OB to create a through flow of fresh air. One extant pipe has been traced over 6 feet into the bank, without identifying its exit! From the main corrugated iron elephant shelter chamber, there was an escape exit that curved away behind a large tree to exit into a deep pit. This would have allowed patrol members to escape out of site of anyone who had found the entrance. A small wooden bridge, erected in recent years, now crosses the escape tunnel and provides a convenient landmark to locate the OB.

Reportedly photographs were taken inside the OB prior to its collapse, which showed corrugated iron end walls. We would obviously be keen to locate these old photographs and bring them to a wider audience. Please contact us if you know where they are.

Pits wood is a community resource in Copford. The interpretation board makes no mention of the secret wartime goings on that occurred here.

The main chamber is completely collapsed. The modern small wooden bridge can be seen top left, crossing the escape tunnel.

This vent pipe, with a ribbed exterior and glazed interior, reaches over 6 feet into the bank without the exit being apparent. Debris in central chamber included fragments of more such pipes as well as the top piece of an old bottle.

An animal burrow allows a view of buckled corrugated iron roof of the OB. It is probably still fairly complete beneath the collapse.

It might be thought that this tree by the escape tunnel has an aerial scar running up it. However, there is no trace of wire and it is likely that this is actually a lightning strike scar, which is a surprising common finding on tall trees.

Not currently known.

Not currently known.

The patrol would have been issued with the standard equipment.

Nothing currently.