The Auxiliary Unit in the Second World War
In November’s article about the Home Guard we mentioned the “Auxiliary Unit”. The Auxiliary Units were a secret resistance network of highly trained volunteers prepared to be Britain’s last ditch line of defence during World War Two.
They operated in a network of cells from hidden underground bases around the UK. The units were independent of the Home Guard and were “cherry picked” mainly from the Home Guard but also ARP (Air Raid Precautions Wardens), Observer Corp and recruited from reserved occupations such as game keeping and quarry workers. Apparently, when selecting initial patrol members, the Chief Constable of Dorset was asked the names of the really good poachers that they could not catch!
The Child Okeford Patrol was part of Dorset Group 5, Blandford, along with:
- Hinton St Mary Patrol
- Leweston Patrol
- Motcombe Patrol
- Pimperne Patrol
- Plush Patrol
- Stourton Caundle Patrol
The area commander from 19th September 1940 to 3rd December 1944 was Major Robert Gerald Hamilton Wilson.
The operational base or “Hide” is on private land in woodland on Hambledon Hill and comprised a Nissan hut sunk into the ground and completely covered. It had a concrete floor, 200 gallon water tank, living area, kitchen, toilets and was equipped with field telephones to observation posts. The unit became fully operational in 1941 and the patrol members received special training from Lord Lovat’s No 4 Commando who were based in Dorset for a period.
The main military targets would have been the camp in Blandford and the railway through it. There were few targets in the immediate area of Child Okeford and it may be that the patrol was intended to disrupt German traffic on the narrow roads and especially negotiating Steepleton Bends.
Clearly it was essential that the Auxiliary Units were kept secret (even from their wives!) and it was only in 1974 that details started to emerge. More information including photographs of the remains of the Hide taken in 2018 can be found on the excellent web site www.staybehinds.com.
I am indebted to John Pidgeon for his considerable help in putting this article together. If you have any stories about the Child Okeford Home Guard or Auxiliary Unit Patrols John ([email protected]) and I would love to hear from you.
Please note: As mentioned, the “Hide” is on private land as is the Ice House we mentioned in last month’s article about The Home Guard. Please respect this privacy and do not be tempted to trespass to see either site.
David Pope (861411) [email protected]