Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.

Thank you for selecting information on the Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Cornwall. The info below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford.

This page last updated at 8:05am on 15/9/13

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.

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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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, Cornwall is registered as area 17. Trencrom is part of Group 1 along with Madron and St Levan. The Group Commander is Lieutenant W R Sandow of Trencrom Patrol.

The Area Commander is Captain H W Abbiss of Truro. In January 1945 Captain Abbiss  was awarded the MBE ( Military Division).

Currently unknown, but as Reggie Sandow was known to have recruited other Auxiliers in group 1 it is assumed that Trencrom was the first patrol to be formed in that group.

Original Sergeant William “Reggie” Sandow, a dairyman. He became 2nd Lieutenant in Nov 1942 and Lieutenant in Feb 1943 as a Group Commander.
Sergeant Henry Rowe, being a smallholder, the OB was on his farmland.
Edwin Sandow who was Reggie's brother and living on the family farm next to the OB.
Richard “Dickie” Lawr(e)y
Richard Henry “ Dick” Uren
Lionel Nicholas
George Harrington
and possibly
William Pooley who's name is entered twice on the Nominal Roll, the first being crossed out. He is transferred to 14th (Hayle) Battalion Home Guard in Feb 1943

T Edwards who is discharged and called to H M Forces.

The OB was built within Wheal Merth Mine situated between Lelant Downs and Heather Lane at Gorran.
In an article in The Cornishman newspaper (undated but thought to be mid 1980s) the OB is described as :


“Operational base was in an adit of an abandoned tin mine high up on Lelant Downs. They would crawl into a small tunnel in the hillside near Carntisco and use a simple bridge made up from a couple of planks of wood. They then had to cross one of the shafts of Wheal Merth mine. A slip would have sent them plunging 500/600ft to the bottom of the flooded shaft. Once inside they pulled the bridge back with them inside”

After the war it was destroyed within the confines of Wheal Merth Mine.  Built within the old stope (the excavated area of a mine produced during the extraction of ore) some remains were blown into the adit (a level tunnel giving access to a mine and usually used for drainage or extraction of broken ore etc). The Nissen hut structure within the mine was covered with concrete and soil.


Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: Currently unknown entrance into the actual OB but both the shaft and the adit (today) are a tight squeeze for an adult man especially if carrying kit.


Observation Post: Currently unknown


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1


The opening into the mine adit.


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2


Remains of the Nissen structure of the OB which was blasted into the adit when the OB was demolished. 


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 3


A pile of old boots found in the adit.


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4


A old wooden lintel supporting tons of rock above. The way in towards the OB was under this.


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 5


The concrete ceiling of the OB.  Built within the old stope (the excavated area of the mine produced during the extraction of tin) the Nissen structure was covered with concrete and soil.


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 6


Looking up into OB. Note the granite lintel that would have supported the floor. This is horizontal.


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 7


One of the bed frames wedged up against the ceiling after the blast of demolition.


Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 8


Looking up into the blocked access to the OB. The stone in the middle is the only thing holding back tons of mining refuse of broken rock.

Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol 9


All photographs above used with kind permission of KH from

Looking down the vertical mine shaft entrance. 


A complete set of pictures of the whole mine system can be seen here

A Starfish QL site had been constructed at the Towans (sand dunes) at nearby Hayle. These elaborate hoax lights would simulate night effects of the town and harbour. The sites were built to mislead enemy aircraft into bombing the decoy site rather than the nearby town. The presence of this proves Hayle was strategically important and so suspected targets for the patrol would include the viaduct at Foundry and the harbour.

Currently unknown

Currently unknown but it is assumed they had access to the standard weapons and equipment.
Ammunition and supplies were dropped near the mine by an army lorry and stored in chambers ΒΌ of a mile into the hillside and under 300ft of rock.

In his memoirs, Stuart Edmundson, the original IO recalls : “Down in West Cornwall there was no great problem [with OBs] as many of the men I had recruited there were, or had been, tin miners. That part of the world is completely honeycombed by old workings and some of these chaps were able to go from coast to coast in Cornwall through these old workings without coming to the surface.

It was a terrifying experience going down with them as water was dripping through everywhere. The passages of cause were totally dark and we only had the light of a candle or a torch and had to jump over shafts going down lower, at the bottom of which you could hear water running.

These men were particularly tough and mad keen to get their hands on a German.

Alwyn Harvey's research carried out for Defence Of Britain Project
Hancock data held at B. R. A
TNA ref WO199/3390
KH from
Memoirs of Edmundson, copies held at B.R.A

Information from Denys Matthews, son of Auxilier Dick Matthews of Madron patrol and an undated article in The Cornishman newspaper.

If you can help with any info please contact us.