Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch


Brent Knoll Chirnside 3B - Special Duties Radio Sub Out Station

This page was last updated at 9:00am on 11/8/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Special Duties Zero station known as Brent Knoll Chirnside 3B in Somerset. The info and images below have been supplied by Jason Grey.

This was the home of farmer and former WWI soldier John Leonardt. Leonardt was originally from 100 Charlotte Street in Birmingham, where the family were pen manufacturers. Leonardt suffered severe shell shock during WWI and on his return home decided to put himself through agricultural college.

Also involved in the Brent Knoll wireless net was Dr Harold Whewell Hogarth Holmes BA, MB, B Ch. Cantab. MRCS Eng. LRCP London. Dr Holmes was one of the consultant surgeons at Burnham's War Memorial Hospital, Love Lane. From Jeffrey Wilson's book on the Somerset Home Guard Dr Holmes was also a Major in the Berrow and Brean HG.

John was selected and put in charge of the Sub Out Station, although his son “Pete” was the technician and operator.

Neville (actually known as Pete) Charles Leonardt was diagnosed with brain tumours aged 11, and was therefore not fit enough to fight in the war. He was however quite technically adept and used to construct his own crystal radio sets in a shed in the back garden from a very early age.

The radio was located in Tumbledown Cottage under the stairs.

The photograph above shows a semi detached property (numbered 2 &3) and were able to learn that John L later removed half of the property because it was partially falling down and rebuilt a single property (#2) which was then called Tumbledown (see map below, also numbered 2)!

From the front door of the property you entered and if you walked straight ahead you would walk under the stairs to the upper floor.

While there was no hidden alcove as such, the underside of the stairs were panelled, and the radio was located behind one of the steps and a panel could be removed to access it.

There were 2 beech trees located behind the Laurels, some 50-70 meters away, and the radio aerial was actually made to look like a standard overhead power cable, but which actually ran off to one of these beech trees.

Monica remembers a fellow in an army uniform walking past her with a ladder, as a young girl and as she stood talking to a friend. He had erected the ladder in a ditch behind the pig sty partially obscured from site, and was up the tree repairing the aerial. His cap fell to the ground close to where she and her friend were standing, which made her realise he was up to something up in the tree!

The OIC or recruiter/organiser of the radio cells in this region was a Captain Coxwell Rodgers, although he was no longer a serving officer in the army at that time!

The photo above is of “The Cottage” at Battleborough Lane, which is built on the site of the original Tumbledown cottage.

Currently unknown

CART CIO's Dr Will Ward, Nina Hannaford and Aux researchers Evelyn Simack and Tim Wray.

If you can help with any please contact us.