Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit Patrol

Thank you for selecting information on the Bewholme Auxiliary Unit Patrol located in Yorkshire. The info below has been compiled from our internal archive with help from various researchers.

This page last updated at 7:40am on 30/10/14

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.

The Bewholme Patrol was part of the Southern Area of the East Riding, which consisted of 17 Patrols forming five groups 5-9. Bewholme belonging to Group No 5, which consisted of Catwick, Skirlaugh, Aldbrough, Hornsea and Bewholme.

It is unknown when the patrol was formed.

The Area Group Commander was Capt Walter Kitching (07/08/1897), The Assistant Group Commander was Captain Carrington (b.Dec1899) Group Sgt Clerk was Sgt Robert G Hugill.

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit Patrol Members

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit in 1940  (Left to right - Pte C Hara, Pte W Varley, Sgt. D Blanchard, Pte G Varley)

George Varley in 2013

Auxilier Claude Varley in 2013. (Pic by Terry Carrott)

The following are the entries found in the Nominal Roll. Exact addresses have been removed by CART.

Members List

Occupation

Date of Birth

Time in the patrol

Sgt. Frank Dennis Blanchard Tracker Driver 6/6/1916

1940 - ?

Sgt Walter E Varley Farmer 14/10/1917

1940 - 1944

Cpl Edward Rafton  Farme Worker 17/11/1916

1940 - 1944

Pte Gordon A Varley . 01/11/1915

1940 - 1944

Pte Claude Varley Farmer 08/02/1924

 Listed in the patrol in 1944

Pte Cyril Edmund Hara (Brother of Reg. C) . 1907

Listed in the patrol from Sep 1942 - 1944

Pte Reginald A Hara (Son of Reg. C Hara) Farmer June 1924.

.

Pte Reginald Clifford Hara (Father to Reg. A Hara) Farmer 17/11/1903

1940 - 1944

Pte Robert Jackson . .

Listed in the patrol in from 1942 - 1944

Pte Leslie Ulliott . June 1920.

1940 - 1942?

The Haras are a bit of a mystery. It looks like father, son and uncle. There are 3 different National Registration Numbers so there must have been 3 Hara's.   

All the Varley's listed were brothers.

Auxilier Dennis Blanchard was in charge of selecting the site for the OB. He recalls;

It was also my job to select a suitable site where an underground bunker was to be built in case of an invasion.
 
The site I chose for the underground bunker was situated to the west of Bewholme village, approximately halfway between Bewholme and Catfoss Airfield.  The bunker was to be a Nissen type hut dug into a steep bank with a ditch at the bottom so it would not flood.  It was a ten minute shuffle to the airfield fence which could no doubt have been occupied by the enemy.  The army came and placed the underground bunker in position.  It was top secret, no member of the patrol was to visit or be seen by the site during construction.  When it was completed it was a ‘work of art’, the camouflage and door construction came up to all expectations however it was not five star nor even three star accommodation.

One man was always to be on lookout.  We had five wooden framed, wire covered single beds plus a straw mattress. Lighting was a tilly lamp and what little cooking we did was on a primus stove.  We had a supply of fourteen days worth of dry rations plus a one gallon, sealed, stone jar of rum not to be opened until the third day of operations.  We also had a forty gallon water tank and water purifying tablets were also supplied.  Ventilation problems were solved by adding more land drains and a bundle of wire mesh was inserted into them to keep out vermin and any odd grenades.

A thirty-five yard emergency exit tunnel ran from the underground bunker to a side ditch.  The last two feet of the tunnel was not to be dug until it was needed.  Now the underground bunker was more or less assembled, the sixth recruit, C Hara was invited to join us.  We were now given our uniform, the standard khaki battle dress with Home Guard shoulder flashes but with 202 Battalion numbers.   We were also give a denim, dark shaded battle dress, a pair of leather boots and a pair of rubber ankle boots, a gas mask, a tin hat, a blanket and a soft, straw palias (mattress).

The original box of tricks was moved to a recess at the end of the bunker together with all the extra ammunition and explosive gear etc. It was difficult to sleep with that lot in the bunker.  That storehouse, (the ammunition was removed long ago) like the observation part with its connecting phone has disappeared.  The only part I believe still to exist is the escape tunnel that, thankfully, was not needed.

Both the OB and OP lie South West of the village of Bewholme on Private Farm land. The owner kindly took us to the exact location of the OB.

The OB and Op lie on arable field boundary ditches. The banks and ditches are well maintained. Although trees and brambles are growing up through the OB it is easy to see the whole layout.

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: 5.9m x 3m

Condition of OB: Very Bad. Full collapse of the OB main chamber is imminent.

Orientation of OB: East West

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit 6

Collapsed entrance area of the OB

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit 3

Doorway to the entrance tunnel

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit 4

Looking into the main chamber

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit 2

View down the escape tunnel into the ditch

Bewholme OP View

Observation Post/s: The observation Post lies 200m to the east of the OB. The entrance was through a concrete culvert under a bridge. The bridge crossing had been extended to form a one man chamber with the water cleverly diverted to keep the OP dry. It was linked to the OB by a field telephone. The concrete culvert still exists but the chamber has gone. (See the view from the OP above - Click image for larger view)

Bewholme Auxiliary Unit 1

Entrance to the OP by the concrete culvert.

The WW2 airfield of RAF Catfoss is under one mile away.

The Unit regularly carried out exercises against Catfoss Airfield that was easily reached by travelling along the many ditches that gave cover. It is known they would place items on the planes during the night then in the morning would go to the airfield and demand to see the CO and would show him how lax his sentries were.  Information also was gained that as soon as the invasion started the local police officer would have been assassinated, as he knew too much.

Dennis Blanchard recalls:

We were always trained by an army unit and always at night.  We trained two to three nights a week and every weekend at different army bases.  Our three main tasks were sabotage, guerrilla warfare and terrorism.  We were also trained for other duties – not to be mentioned here.  To do these we had to get into a base, leave our tricks and get out again unseen. We practised this with an organised night ‘attack’ against Catfoss Airfield which we used it as our practice area.  Our training was ‘polished up’ at army headquarters at Coleshill – no messing about there!  Every part of our training - firearms, incendiaries, grenades, unarmed combat, booby traps were all sorted.

Dennis Blanchard recalls the equipment issued:

We had several lectures on firearms after which we received our arms.  Each man had a sub-machine gun plus one side arm.  A Thompson Tommy gun was for the Sargeant and sten guns for the rest.  The side arm was a self-loading pistol for myself, as Sargeant and the others had a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver. We also had two service .300 rifles and a .22 silenced telescopic sniper rifle.  As well as the arms we were also given a sheath knife and a hard-rubber truncheon.  Other ‘sleep inducing’ systems were served up later in training. We received instructions and fired all small arms used by allied and German troops in case we just happened to find one. 

Dennis Blanchard very clearly recalls his recruitment into Aux Units. Here is his account.

I arrived in the tent facing three officers across a trestle table.  The officer in the middle was of some rank as he had scarlet tabs on his tunic and a scarlet band around his cap that was lying on the table with his cane.  The person who took me in stood at one end of the table.  The officer in the centre greeted me with a penetrating stare and after what seem like an hour he leaned forward and asked,

“ Will you do a little job for me?”

I replied, “What kind of job?” 

His reply was, “Oh I cannot tell you that”.

He asked many questions about my private life but eventually I realised that he already knew a lot about me.  He had done his homework well.

His companion asked me, “Will you be prepared to do intensive training of a secret and dangerous nature?”

I replied with another question, “What kind of training?

He replied, “Oh, I can not tell you that!”

He immediately ordered the officer at the end of the table to take my name and address and to make the necessary arrangements. After a short and serious lecture on security and the fire and brimstone that would occur if I breached the security. With that Bewholme Patrol was born.  I then realised that I had volunteered under the Army system of ‘You, You and You’, to lead the patrol.  I was then told that I would be contacted by a civilian standby.  With that I left the tent.

I was born in an era when we were taught to speak the truth even if it chocked us.  When it came to explain what had happened in the tent to my friends, against all teachings, I had to tell a lot of white lies and a few pink ones also.

The following week along came the civilian to the farm where we were working and explained briefly what I had joined and we arranged to meet in a quiet lane where he would introduce me to some of the equipment that I would be using.  It was an area I knew that my friends the poachers would not be busy in that night.  He opened his car boot and in a large cardboard box I saw for the first time an array of explosives, fuses, switches, magnets and many other items that I had to memorise.  There were no firearms at this stage.  At the next meeting he would bring me a new box of tricks that had to be buried in a dry place for further use.  In the meantime I had to recruit two friends that I could trust to keep secrets and be suitable for the job ahead.  The two friends I recruited were Ted Rafton and Les Ulliot.

I then had to attend a meeting with army officers for about an hour.  I was questioned about the contents of the box of tricks after which they thanked me for my time and presented me with three stripes – I was now a Sergeant but still had no uniform.  I had been asked to recruit a further two members for the patrol and so recruited Gordon and Walter Varley. 

East Ridings Secret Resistance by Alan Williamson, Mr Stuart Elliot, Landowner, Andy Gwynne, David Blanchard, Stephen Lewins (CART CIO for Northumberland)

If you can help with any info please contactus.