Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Woodyates Auxiliary Unit Patrol

Thank you for selecting information on the Woodyates Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base in Dorset. The info below has come from our CIO for Dorset, Dr Will Ward.

This page was last updated at 7:51am on 19/6/15

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 our 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.

The Woodyates patrol is barely in Dorset, sitting right on the Wiltshire border. Later in the war the Group makeup was altered and the Woodyates patrol joined Group 5, whose patrols were geographically a bit closer.

This patrol was a part of Group 1, which comprised patrols in the area surrounding Wimborne. Group Commander was JRN Charter.

 Currently unknown.


Date of Birth




Sgt. Sidney James Herrington





Cpl. Albert Edward Callow





Pte. Ernest Edward “Ted” Foyle





Pte. James Henry Jacobs





Pte. Cecil Arthur Beazley


Market Gardener

Discharged Nov 1943


Pte. George Henry Watts





Pte. Joseph Douglas White





Pte. Jack Charles Peach





Sidney Herrington was one of the oldest patrol leaders, being 63 in 1940. He had served in the Royal Marine Light Infantry in between 1895 and 1902, then as a police constable on the Isle of Wight by 1907. He re-enlisted in the First World War and because of his experience was sent to Gibraltar in 1916, aged 40, to guard the Dockyard there as a member of the Military Foot Police (an Army unit). At some point between the wars, he returned to his home village of Woodyates. In December 1943, he had to leave Auxiliary Units as he was deemed as too old for service. Oddly the same didn't apply to George Watts who was even older. Cpl Callow was promoted sergeant and took over as patrol leader. Cecil Beazley left in 1943 to join the 7th Wilts (Salisbury) Battalion Home Guard, presumably because of a change of employment. Cecil Beazley didn't tell his wife that he was involved during the war, showing how secrecy was impressed on the men.

Ted Foyle farmed Oakley Farm with his brother. He had been in the local Home Guard and kept up his membership, though others recalled his attendance was poor. He was however known to the section as a good shot with both rifle and shotgun. Jack Peach was still alive in 2012 and denied being a member, despite his name appearing on the nominal roll in the National Archives. He was happy to say that he was in the regular Home Guard though.

Sidney Herrington seen in a 1907 Group photo of The Isle of Wight Constabulary. (Courtesy of Hampshire Constabulary History) 

The patrols OB was reportedly in an area known as Vernditch Chase, opposite Martin Down rifle range, just across the main road to Salisbury. It was said to have been demolished by explosives at the end of the war. A possible location for the destroyed OB has been identified with help from the English Nature team that manages the site. All that remains is a large depression and some debris including brickwork, though nothing that absolutely confirms the site as an OB. It lies alongside a boundary bank and beneath a mature tree, which would have provided cover during the war. The far side of the bank is another deep depression which might indicate an escape tunnel exit that has collapsed.

The depression that may represent the remains of the OB can just about be made out to he top left of this picture. The branches mark out the possible line of the escape tunnel.


At the OB site there is a large amount of broken brick and bits of metal pipe. No buildings are known to have existed in the area and no roads run nearby to suggest dumping of rubble.


Glazed drainage pipes are a common finding on OB sites as they were used to provide ventilation ducts. This piece was the only obvious remainder of a pipe that could be found.

Close to the same boundary bank as the possible OB site is a possible Observation Post. Nearer to the road, It would have had a clear view of the traffic during the war, though post war vegetation now hides it. All that remains is a deep depression beneath the branches of a large tree. Red bricks are scattered nearby, but nothing else that would confirm for certain that this was an OP.


There isn’t much to see at the possible OP site. There is a square dip in the ground with pieces of brick and breeze block scattered about. Though difficult to see from the photo, the hole is deeper than might be expected for a fire pit and there is no evidence of burning.


No specific targets are known, though the main road between Blandford and Salisbury seems likely to have been one. There were numerous military camps and training Facilities in the area which might have become targets if taken over by the Germans.

Cecil Beazley reported that the patrol met twice weekly at the OB to train.
They would also have trained at the County HQ at Duntish Court. It is likely that at least the Patrol sergeants went to Coleshill House for courses.

Ted Foyle's son recorded that he was issued with a .303 rifle with telescopic sight and silencer. It seems more likely that this was a .22 rifle as issued to other patrols. Ammunition was stored at Oakley farm.

This glass jar was found on the site. It is a Kilner type jar (i.e. no screw lid), with the Hartley’s Jam FMF mark on the base. Such jars were used for home made explosives, simple storage, or if the unit was very lucky, for jam!

Ted Foyle's son recalled that after the war he was issued with a small enamel badge which wore with pride. Remembered as a red and blue shield, this was certainly the classic stand down lapel badge. 

National Archives WO 199/3390, 199/3391
Further Information from John Pidgeon
Additional names and dates of death from

If you can help with any info please contact us.