Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


St. Dennis Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page as last updated at 6:13pm on 12/8/15

Thank you for selecting information on the St. Dennis 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.

St Dennis is almost in the centre of Cornwall being half way between Newquay and St Austell.

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 Colonel) 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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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. St Dennis was part of group 3 along with Redruth, Mabe, Perranwell, Constantine, Truro, Perranporth, Newlyn East, Grampound, St Colomb, St Mawgan, Probus and Philleigh . They were under the group command of Captain H W Abbiss from Truro along with Lieutenant F J Yeo and 2nd Lieutenant E K F Harte.

Captain H W Abbiss from Truro was also the area Commander for this and groups 1 to 4, covering two thirds of the county.

In 1945 Captain Abbiss was awarded the MBE ( Military Division).

Currently unknown.

Sergeant William  P Meagor
Corporal John C Dunstan
Sydney H Willcox
John T Kessell
William  J Bunt
Samual H Estlick
Eric O Trethewey
Percy Nobes returned to local Home Guard October 1942.

Cornish Auxiliers

Known to be a stand down picture of at least group 3 and the officers from group 2.  Major Harston is in the middle of the second row with Captain Abbiss to his right. Taken at Idess Wood 1944. James T Caddy from Constantine Patrol is in the second row from the bottom, second in from the right.

It is thought that the OB has been destroyed.

The whereabouts of the operational base of the St. Dennis patrol was never disclosed but it is thought to have been located in one of the many disused china clay workings in the area of St. Dennis, probably South of the village.

St.Dennis Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1

China Clay workings near St Dennis

St.Dennis Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

© Copyright Tony Atkin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
View over the rooftops of St Dennis showing china clay working tips.

Currently unknown, though the main A30 running the length of Cornwall could have been a target.

Currently unknown

Currently unknown but it is assumed they had access to the standard weapons and equipment.

By the mid 20th century the surrounding area was dominated by the China Clay and China Stone industry and provided employment for a large number of people from the village.

Even today the village is surrounded by still worked and disused clay works that would be the most obvious location for the OB and for training in. Explosives training especially would have aroused little attention.

TNA ref WO199/3391, Hancock data held at B.R.A, Alwyn Harvey's research for Defence of Britain database

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