Saturday, 23 February 2013

WW2; Winston Churchill`s Secret Army; The Auxiliary Units.. Pt1

`Never give in, never never never...`    Winston Churchill 1940

In the last few years there has come to light a lot of information regarding a secret army here in Great Britain that during WW2 would have at all costs defended our country if we had been invaded by the Nazi German war machine as it advanced across Europe in 1939/1940...

Further down the post are some Youtube films which show some of the secret bases these Top Secret Units operated from and some of the weapons they were issued with.
First some history...

1940;
From 1940 to 1944 nearly 5000 men who were approached then if interested signed the official secrets act, were then secretly trained at Coleshill House near Swindon in England and later at other top secret bases across the UK....

Coleshill...


They were trained to do a job like no soldier had been trained to do before, in their fight there would be no rules and the weapons used to stop any invading army were in some cases very very nasty indeed....

After the last minute retreat in the Dunkirk evacuation in June 1940, The threat of invasion of Britain by the Nazi led Germany Army which had swept across Europe looked very real indeed...
Winston Churchill ordered a battle-hardened colonel called Colin Gubbins to form the BRO, also known as GCHQ Auxiliary Units.
At the time German forces were only 25 miles across the water, and so grave was the threat they posed that British intelligence chiefs had on September 7 initiated the codeword `Cromwell`. It meant invasion imminent.
Church bells were banned from being used, if there was an invasion church bells were to be rung giving everyone the signal. that we were being invaded...

The idea behind the BRO was that an armed and highly trained band of guerrilla fighters would continue the war in newly occupied Britain, with instructions to kill and harass the enemy no matter what the reprisals.
Gubbins selected a dozen regular army intelligence officers to recruit local men.

These local men who were asked to join were men exempt from fighting abroad due to work responsibility's; Men that included; Farmers, gamekeepers, Local Headmasters, men between the age of 18 to mid 40s who knew there local countryside well.
These men were already enlisted in the Home Guard. Upon approach they were asked if they would volunteer to do an important job which could be of up most importance to the country. If they agreed to volunteer they were then sworn under the official secrets act and would then go on to be trained for the skills required.

All innocently under the cover that they were away doing Home Guard training these men were sent to Coleshill House, and later in the war at various other locations which would turn them into ruthless killers, supplied with rations, weapons and explosives.
There job was to destroy Railway and road communications, bridges, fuel and ammunition dumps of the invading forces, using stealth and silent killing of sentries to place explosives to derail trains and blow up aircraft at occupied Airfields,to cause as much mayhem as possible and inflict as much destruction and death to the occupied forces as possible.

They were trained to be suicidal as local East Lothian WW2 historian and author and friend of my Dad,  Jack Tully Jackson who has met and interviewed local Aux Units members has described their role if we had been invaded.....

The Reality;
When these men agreed to join and signed the Official Secrets Act they were told that their life expectancy would probably be no more than two to three weeks in the event of an invasion.
These men could not tell there parents, wives or girlfriends what they were trained to do if there was an invasion. If the church bells started ringing they would have quietly slipped away...
They would just disappear with out saying a good bye to their loved ones and would go to ground and do there duty until death...
No one would ever likely see them again, just think about that for a moment...

Training;
Sent to Coleshill House, a stately home near Swindon the potential new members would arrive by train with instructions to report to the nearby village post office where a Mrs Mabel Stranks the post mistress would phone up to the big house for the recruits to be collected.
Driven around for several miles in darkness of the truck interior, recruits had no idea which way they had travelled to Coleshill from the Station, secrecy was key to this prepared resistance preparation...

Trained and Ready;
So the trained and ready organised Aux Patrols would live under the disguise of the Home Guard and waited for what seemed like a certain invasion in 1940 but told no one but of there real duty if the time came...




Most Aux Units, called patrols would comprise of 6 men, who would operate from a hidden base, called an Operation base (OB)...
The Units would live in here and it is expected that they would hold up during daylight hours and then go out after the cover of darkness and do what they were trained to do - cause as much destruction and mayhem as possible...
National Trust picture...


These bases were mostly constructed in out of the way areas like woodland on private estates, far from public eyes, or Nazi spies.
Many were built to a standard plan which included a chimney which would go up through a hollowed out tree, the smoke would rise to disperse in the tree leaf canopy, allowing the men to boil water on paraffin stoves to cook food without being detected.  very clever...
With a deflection wall between the hidden sliding entrance hatch and the main room the deflection wall would stop German troops who if discovering the base from killing them inside by grenades dropped down the vertical access shaft them if discovered...




Behind the main room with bunks etc, a second room contained weapons and explosives and there was an escape tunnel which often led to a concealed fake mortar wall at a sunken ditch or `Ha ha` as it is called in England which could be simply pushed out allowing the men to quietly slip away...

Aux units were instructed to shoot themselves if capture was likely.
In fact they were instructed to shoot any Unit member captured if possible as he would be tortured to reveal the location of there base,
In July this year there was this report about The Auxiliary Units on the News...

youtube film...



Here, a film of a tour of a Aux Unit OB at Coleshill....

youtube film...



Check out the killing weapons here, some real nasty stuff...
This video shows a tour of the Museum Of The British Resistance Organisation located at Parham Airfield in Suffolk...

youtube film...




The German forces would have been in for a some very nasty surprises which would seem to come from nowhere, here in this C.A.R.T film you see some of the devices they would have used, check out the very nasty N0 8...

youtube film...



Manuals were produced for Aux members on the Art Of Guerrilla Warfare.
These were disguised as Countryman diary's and similar publications...



Many weapons issued to the Aux units were designed at The Ministry of Defence 1 (MD1) or as it was also called `Winston Churchill's Toy Shop`.
All kind of stuff was produced, from anti-tank guns to sticky bombs,  timer fuses and the No 8,


Priority;
Here is how important the Aux units were;
Absolute priority was given to the latest Arms to be issued to the Aux Units was given by Winston Churchill,
From the USA was the Thompson sub machine, which was issued before the Commandos or regular army received them. a devastating weapon...

youtube film...




The operational patrols, around 100 of them, were supported by special duty sections.
Trained to gather intelligence about German movements and leave reports in dead letter drops.
These would then be collected by runners and taken to one of more than 200 secret radio transmitters hidden in deep rural bunkers operated by civilian signals staff.

Chilling Orders;
There was pre-planned objectives for each Unit and some men were issued with sealed orders not to be opened until if the invasion happened.
This has revealed quite frightening orders,
Most Units had a .22 sniper rifle.  But it was not just for trying to execute German sentry's, tracker dogs and German Commanders who would have occupied stately homes, but also to execute members of the British public, from Nazi sympathisers or collaborators, and  in some cases Police Sergeant's as some maybe knew locations and members of Aux Units or put to and two together when people had just disappeared when the church bells rang and reprisal attacks started on the invaders...

German reprisal;
The Gestapo were highly experienced in dealing with the resistance in France and elsewhere without mercy.
They would interrogate the local police etc for any info of people that had disappeared and then interrogated their families. Reprisals would have been horrific on civilians...
Civilian men, woman and children would have been tortured or executed in an attempted that these gorilla units surrendered.
But they were trained to not give in, and to keep going until there own end.
There role was suicidal and there job was to kill as many enemy invaders as possible...


On Hitlers death wish;
Hitlers `Black Book` was a list of influential British people who were to be executed immediately upon German occupation of Britain.
It is said the Post Mistress Mrs Mabel Stranks name was in the book, if so then German intelligence knew something was going on at Coleshill. So was she?
This is a long film from 2006, but it features the story of the Post Mistress Mrs Mabel Stranks...

youtube film...



Today;
Thanks to lottery funding and the hard work of volunteers there is now an official Organisation documenting this once secret army,
The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (C.A.R.T) website has now been on line since June 2011 and is weekly updated with new evidence as it comes to light of this Army's existence which has mostly been kept quiet by its surviving members since the dark days of 1940...


Bringing the past to life;
A NEW film sheds light on a secret army assembled by Churchill that would have fought to the death against German troops if this country had fallen under Nazi occupation.
It is based on a haunting novel called Resistance by Owen Sheers and is
set in 1944.
The D-Day landings have just failed and the Germans have invaded Britain.
Much of the new film is set in a remote valley in the Black Mountains of Wales...

youtube film...



1944;
The auxiliary units were stood down in November 1944 after the tide turned with the success of the Allied D Day landings.
Many of the Aux members went on to join Commando Units and the famous British Regiment the SAS, formed by Scotsman David Stirling.

The Aux Units comprised of normal men who volunteered to do a job which was if we had been invaded was a one way ticket. Trained to become some of the toughest, hardest fighting men, transformed from country men into fighters due to an invasion threat which thankfully never happened.
If it had these men would have been heroes, fighting there no rules warfare until there last breath...

After WW2 until today;
Most members have lived with their secret and kept a 70 year silence.
Telling no one of their underground army as decreed by the Official Secrets Act.
Information has started to come to light as many have passed away and relatives have found documents revealing these men's part that was to be played for there country's freedom if we had been invaded in 1940....

Here is what a WW2 Aux Unit base that can be found may look like today...

youtube film...





An Auxiliary beer has been launched to help raise money for C.A.R.T!...


And there is an Aux Unit reenactment group, and there is some good detail here of the OB and Radio bases (RB) which supplied information to the patrols...

youtube film...



Have a look at the C.A.R.T website for more information on this once secret of Britain;www.coleshillhouse.com

A good read on the Aux Units is this book by John Warwicker...

There were 21 Aux Units bases along the Scottish  Borders, i have visited a few...
I find the subject fascinating and in awe at what normal people were prepared to do for there country if the time had come...

Aux Units here in East Lothian;

East Lothian had 2 Aux Units,
2 Patrols of ordinary people here in our county were involved, sworn to secret, and trained to do a suicidal job of sabotage and killing an invading force here in East Lothian ...
Men that you may have known in their later years as regular retired pensioners enjoying a pint in one of our local pubs or at the bowling club etc...

There was an East Linton Patrol whose base was only a 1/2 mile from my house.
And a Dunbar patrol,

And the radio base was at East Linton,
Sadly both Aux bases are gone now as are the East Linton Patrol members who have passed away...

But in Pt2 i will post up a lot of information about the East Lothian patrols and its members of pictures and film interviews that i have collected, and pics today of the sites of the bases...




4 comments:

  1. Excellent blog

    epicyclo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi epicyclo, thanks for leaving a comment, hope life is good, and hopefully meet up this year for some fat bike fun!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good stuff Bruce.
    Let me know if you want to go exploring... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yep we will visit the OB Sites and Radio Base site soon for new pics Derek, -:)

    ReplyDelete