Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 8:38am on 24/12/13

Thank you for selecting information on the St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base. The information below has been supplied by our Devon CIO Nina Hannaford.

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.

St Keyne is a small parish on the main road between Liskeard and Looe.

From the very first meeting in Whitehall on July 1940 the Intelligence Officer for Devon and Cornwall (named Auxiliary Units SW Area) was Captain (later Major) 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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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 Keyne was part of group 6 along with Morval (Looe), Launceston, Liskeard, St Germans, Pelynt, Lansallos, Menheniot, St Juliot, Coads Green and Bridgerule (now in Devon). They were under the group command of Captain G H Sergeant from Liskeard along with Lieutenant W Crichton (discharged May 1944 due to ill health) and 2nd Lieutenant J F William Mewton.
Captain G H Sergeant from Liskeard was also the area Commander for this and group 5.

Currently unknown

Sergeant Ernest J Saunders, a farmer.
Norman Wills
William H Wilton
Stephen A Rawlings
Richard Warne
R E Brown
Reginald N J Crabb who was transferred to 6th Battalion Home Guard in May 1943.

The picture above was kindly supplied by John Jolliff (the son of Joe Northcott from Pelynt Patrol)

It is thought to show the Cornwall Group 6 patrols which consisted of St Keyne, Morval, Menheniot, St Germans, Pelynt, Lansallos, Liskeard,St Juliot, Coads Green, Launceston and Bridgerule.

Back row far left: Reg Wakeham (Pelynt), Joe Northcott (Pelynt) rest unknown
Middle row far left: Ned Broad (Pelynt) rest unknown
Front row far left : Ralph Webber (Pelynt), Charlie Barrett ( Liskeard), unknown, unknown, Sgt.Jack Bickford, rest unknown.

The Defence of Britain database records that St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol built their own bunker in Trussel Wood. The operational base is now just a hole deep in the wood, but its shape and entrance and exit tunnels are still clearly visible.

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc:
The operational base measured approximately 12ft x 20ft and was 8.5ft in height. The main bunker room was constructed from corrugated sheeting with timber on top.

The entrance tunnel was straight and measured about 14ft in length. The exit tunnel was curved, about 15ft in length, with a spur running off about half way along its length. Explosives were stored in the exit tunnel. Both tunnels were accessed through well camouflaged 4ft square trap doors. These doors were built with timber, carried soil and turf on top which was covered in wire netting.

Ventilation pipes made from 4ins salt glazed pipes were fitted in the roof of the bunker at 6ft intervals and were also covered in wire netting and moss.

A fireplace was built in the bunker, constructed with a wrought iron surround, a corrugated iron chimney and a fire grate. All three items can still be seen at the site. The chimney went out through a hollow tree.
Bunks were made from timber frames covered in diamond-shaped expanded metal netting. The bunker could sleep up to seven members of the patrol. 

St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1

Looking towards Liskeard from the area of the OB

Observation Post: St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol built an observation lookout post in a field hedgerow on high ground about half a mile N of St. Keyne village and about 100 yards South of their operational base.

The two structures were linked by a field telephone. It was about 4ft square and 8ft deep, dug into the ground and well camouflaged.

Other physical remains nearby: Site of Second World War rifle range near Trussel used by the Home Guard, Auxiliary Unit, and the United States Army is recorded on Defence of Britain database. It is currently unknown if there if there are any remains.

A plan of the OB and photographs are currently held at English Heritage, Swindon.

An assumed target would be St Keyne “Wishing Well Halt” railway station on the Looe Valley train line.

Currently unknown

Unknown but it is assumed they had access to the normal weapons and equipment seen here.

Currently unknown

TNA ref WO199/3391
Alwyn Harvey recorder for Defence of Britain Database.
Hancock data held by B. R. A
1939 Kellys Directory

If you can help with any info please contact us.