Somerset Auxiliary Units Other Info
North Somerset Scout Section -
British Resistance Organisation in
by Donald Brown, author Somerset versus Hitler, Countryside Books 1999
Coleshill sent out Intelligence Officers to our coastal
counties “to organise auxiliary forces to form a resistance movement in the event of a successful German invasion
of this country”. By September, three months after Dunkirk, the British Resistance Organisation was in place.
Within a year, it mustered 3,000 volunteers in over a hundred small, highly trained patrols, better equipped and
armed than many Army units. It operated in such secrecy that its members were denied service medals when the war
ended. AU men have now, however, qualified for HM Armed
Forces Veteran Badge. It took the rest of the 20th century before MOD grudgingly awarded a trickle of Defence
In June 1940, 2/Lt Ian Fenwick was seconded from the King’s Royal Rifle Corps to “a
specialist appointment” at Coleshill with the rank of captain.
After training, he was posted to Somerset as Intelligence Officer where his charismatic
leadership established the country’s second largest resistance network, building up to 300 men in 44 patrols
working out of 50 secret Operational Bases buried in Somerset’s caves, woods and quarries.
Thirty Somerset Auxiliers were still with us in 2009, still talking of Fenwick.
(Image left) John McCue and Ian Fenwick at Axbridge Wine Cellars.
Cranmore Scout Section with Lt Keith Salter and Sgt Freddy Chapman Centre rear
Coleshill spread its teachings through locally based Scout Sections of a subaltern and a dozen soldiers. Many of these
Scouts and some auxiliers moved on, like Fenwick, into Special Forces, employing their specialist AU skills in the
invasion of Europe.
AU members were volunteers, wearing Home Guard uniform but not named on HG files. The patrol
leader was a sergeant. A few auxiliers were given HG commissions and put in charge of groups of patrols. One of
these Groups covered Bath, the only urban BRO in Britain. Read Bob Millards account of the Bath Patrol here
Coleshill trained the Scout Sections to
help locate, design and build Patrol Operational Bases. These varied in style,
some using natural features and others being prefabricated from “elephant shelters” designed for WW1 trenches. Most
were destroyed at the end of the war, but some survive as testimony to their original strength of construction. See
more bunker images on our Bunkers page
Read the Coleshill Training & Test Papers here
Other known OB's in Somerset
Green Ore, Somerset
Outside Hunstrete-Pensford, Somerset
Inside Hunstrete-Pensford, Somerset
Inside Hunstrete-Pensford, Somerset, with Auxilier Jim Hooper who built the