This unpleasant weapon – which showered burning phosphorus on anyone within ten yards – had
hitherto not been widely issued to Auxiliary Units and, like the half-pound Unit Charge, was
ultimately included in the Oxenden’s ‘final’ appraisal as a preferred weapon for the saboteur. In
November, 1943, a request from Auxiliary Units HQ for the fifty thousand No.77 Grenades almost
caused uproar within the War Office as it exceeded their issue recommendation by some 2,500%. After
much deliberation and the well-practised ritual of justification, only on the 10th January 1944 was
the issue agreed – and then subject to supply phased over three months. Although there is no
corroboration, the evidence – including the timing of requests for the issue of Fire Pots and the
PTIs, suggest that possible publication dates range from mid-1942 to the latter half of 1943.
The contents of the Countryman’s Diary remained
much the same of Calendar 1938, including the ‘L’ (Lead) delay, and advanced version of the Time
Pencils which, instead of acid, relied upon a spring-loaded lead wire. When broken, it fired the
attached detonator. The main changes were in the exclusion of the “Sticky Bomb” and the highly
dangerous AP switch; and the inclusion of the “Fire Pot” – a magnesium incendiary which, once lit,
was almost impossible to extinguish – and the Pocket Time Incendiary (PTI). Both were issued
exclusively to Aux Units. The reduction of weight of the unit charge – the standard explosive
weapon used operational patrols since the middle of 1942 – provides further indication that this
booklet was the last in the evolutionary line of “Calendar” training manuals, as the new half pound
charge also features in Major Oxenden’s “Final Teaching”.
It was issued as a 42-page booklet, put
together by a captain in the RE and which contained all the reminders that a well trained saboteur
would need in practice. As a doubtful concession to security, it was given a cover title which
would not look out of place on any farmer's bookshelf, The Countryman's Diary -
It was humourously issued 'With the Compliments
of Highworth and Co' and stated that 'Highworth Fertilisers do their stuff unseen, until you see
results!' This could well have become the operational motto of the three Auxunit Battalions!As well
as giving details on the packaging, characteristics and methods of use of the various explosives
and equipment, the handbook contained many useful hints and tips, including the 'dos and don'ts' of
handling explosives. A chapter was included on the best methods of attacking certain targets, and
how to calculate the amount of explosives required, followed by the admonition that 'if in doubt,
double the calculated charge!'
Sketched drawings indicated how to destroy
railway lines, petrol dumps and stores, and where to place charges to do the most damage to parked
aeroplanes or vehicles.
Advice was also given on how to make improvised
mines. 'Aim at killing by splinters, not by blast!' The use of an old motorcycle cylinder was
highly recommended - 'The fins fly well!'
Apart from the standard government caution
relating to the disclosure of information to unauthorised persons printed on the fly-leaf, there
was no indication for whom this publication was intended, although one give-away missed censorship,
for, when warning that some gelignite could deteriorate under damp storage conditions, the author
stated that 'Auxunit packing is OK'.
CART sells a brand new 42 page rare
reproduction A5 size. One page has a tiny part of the text missing at the top but it is only about