Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Starcross Auxiliary Unit Patrol

Thank you for selecting information on the Starcross Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO Nina Hannaford.

This page was last updated at 1:15pm on 28/8/13

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.

Starcross is a village on the West shore of the Exe Estuary on the South Devon coast.

From the information received so far all the Patrols of Group 5 (Dawlish, Teignmouth and Starcross) seem to have worked and trained very closely together. Looking at the names and addresses on the Nominal Rolls it is almost impossible to make three distinctly separate patrols.

Each Patrol therefore, has been compiled by their group photograph where available. This may have lead to errors as to which Auxilier is recorded in which Patrol.

Please contact Nina Hannaford on if you have any information to help.

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 Major, then 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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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.

At Stand Down, Devon is registered as area 16. Starcross is part of Group 5 along with Teignmouth and Dawlish. The Group Commander is Lieutenant A W Eardley of Dawlish.

The South Devon Area Commander is Captain Cyril Wellington originally of Plympton Patrol.

Reg McClaughlin Auxiliary Resistance

Group 5 Devon 203

Back Row Left to right (Starcross Patrol in bold)

Bill Leyman,  Ernie Glover,  Unknown,  Ernest MummeryJeff Goodridge,  Jim Burch,  Cecil Hatherley,  Tom Weeks

Middle Row
Jack Addison,  Reg McClaughlin,  Herbert Thorp,  Fred Goodridge,  Fred Mortimore,  Albert Trapnell,  Henry Blackmore,  Unknown

Front Row
Arthur Carpenter,  Reggie Penaligion,  Cecil Gilpin,  Lt. Alfred Eardley,  Theodore Manning,  Eddie Goldsworthy,  Norman Rowe

 Currently unknown.

Sergeant Fred Goodridge of Shutterton Farm
Corporal Norman Rowe of Hensford Farm
Ernest Mummery of Starcross and wearing the stripe of a Lance Corporal
Jeff Goodridge of Dawlish and brother of Sgt Goodridge
William “Jim” Burch of Dawlish
Reginald “Reg”  McClaughlin of Starcross
Gilbert Bright of Exminster
and Francis Wotton who farmed the land where the operational base was built by the Royal Engineers.

Starcross Patrol

Starcross Patrol

Back row left to right:
Norman Rowe,  Jim Burch,  Jeff Goodridge,  Sgt. Fred Goodridge
Ernest Mummery,  Reg McClaughlin,  Unknown.       One Patrol member is missing.

The Operational Base for the Patrol is between Starcross and Exminster and the Auxiliers lived in the surrounding area. It was located on land farmed by Francis Wotton at Tawsington Farm. The farm has now been split and the land divided up around neighbouring farms. Situated just below the brow of a hill, the area has views over the River Exe Estuary and almost up to the City of Exeter.

CART is yet to gain permission to access the land.

Condition of OB: Known to have been built by the Royal Engineers local children discovered the OB, while still intact, during the 1950s. It was entered into by a trap door in the middle of a Laurel copse though nothing could be seen from the surface.

Embedded in the entrance shaft were 5 metal rungs leading down to a Nissen Hut type structure containing a cast iron stove, a cupboard and four bunk beds. Ventilation pipes led to the surface.

A 3 ft diameter concrete pipe lead away as an escape tunnel, exiting at the surface.

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: Currently unknown, though thought to have been destroyed. At one time it was seen as only rubble remaining, along with the intact escape tunnel leading away.

Starcross Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

View over the Exe Estuary near OB location.

The railway line running through all the Group 5 towns would have been better suspected targeted at Teignmouth or Dawlish but having railway workers knowledge could have given this Patrol an advantage.
This Patrols most obvious target could have been up river, at the bridge over the Exeter Canal and River Exe. The modern bridge is now part of the M5.

Shooting practice took place at the rifle range at Starcross.

Starcross Rifle Range

Starcross rifle range.

Suspected training areas for all the Patrols of group 5 are the many forests and plantations on and around Great Haldon Ridge.

Interestingly, almost directly across the Exe Estuary from Starcross is The Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) at Lympston.

It is imagined the Auxiliers were keeping a close eye on their training.

 Unknown, but it is assumed that they had the standard weapons and explosives issued to all patrols.

An (unrecorded) early member of the Auxiliary Units in the area was Major Arnold Riley (MM) later to be in command of “B” Company (Dawlish) 9th (Newton Abbot) Battalion Home Guard. He had a commissioned rank in the Warwickshire Regiment in WW1 and was a lecturer at Exeter University College. He is remembered as an officer, a true gentleman and a excellent communicator. He appears to have remained in contact with and supportive of the Patrols as he was a guest at their first reunion dinner at The Anchor Hotel in Kennford in 1946.

A later reunion in December 1950 has Riley and Devon IO Edmundson as guests of honour. Footballer, Bert Hoyle, ex Exeter City and present (1950) Bristol Rovers was made an honorary Auxilier.

Dawlish Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

Article from The Western Times 15th Dec 1950
At present it is unknown who Messrs. Base, Hopkins or Moore were or how Bert Hoyle was connected to the Patrols.

A surprisingly large number of Group 5 were awarded the Defence Medal after stand down and it is rumoured that this was due to lobbying by Major Arnold Riley.

Norman Rowe, a butcher and farmer, was repeatedly followed on his way to the OB by some curious Gypsies from a local camp. After a few occasions he set a small, timed, explosive charge to go off behind him and deter them. He was not followed again. He received the Defence Medal.

Fred and his brother Jeff Goodridge were both farmers. Jeff, being a fine snooker player is  remembered as a firm but fair man.

“Jim” Burch was a fruit and flower market gardener and received the Defence Medal as too did Reg McClaughlin.

Reg joined the Local Defence Volunteers as soon as it was launched but his son remembers that he quickly stopped being involved in parades with the newly named Home Guard. Reg was a railwayman along side Ernest Mummery.

Gilbert Bright had a fish cart, would always carry a gun and was often seen out on the Exminster Marshes. It could be him that is yet to be identified in the group photograph or Francis Wotton who was much younger. One of these men is missing from the group picture.

TNA ref WO/199/3390
The Hancock data held at B.R.A.
Douglas McClaughlin, Robin Thorp, Tim Mole, Tricia Whiteway, Tim Whiteway, Peter Ponsford, The Western Times.

If you can help with any info please contact Nina by emailing