Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Bromyard "Jacob" Auxiliary Unit Patrol.

Thank you for selecting information on the Bromyard "Jacob" Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base. The info and images below have been supplied by our internal archive and other sources.

This page was last updated on 4/3/16

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.

Bromyard is a town in north east Herefordshire, England. It lies near to the county border with Worcestershire on the A44 between Leominster and Worcester.

Herefordshire formed part of area 19 which also included Worcestershire ( Groups 1a and 1b), Monmouthshire (Group 3) and latterly from 1943 part of Glamorganshire (Groups 4a and 4b).

The first intelligence officer was Captain John Ellerman Todd who had been a London stockbroker before the war. Known to be a character but dressed as the country gent it is believed he lived at Llanfihangel Crucorny in Monmouthshire. Recruited to SOE, Todd was replaced by Captain Christopher Sandford and the area headquarters became Eye Manor near Leominster.

A later Intelligence Officer included Captain Lloyd Bucknell RA.

Bromyard,“Jacob” Patrol was part of Herefordshire Group 2 which consisted of six Patrols: Letton (“Adam”), Leominster  (“Abednigo”), Wall Hills (“Mechach”), Dinedor (“Caleb”) and Symonds Yat (“Shadrach”) patrols.

Area Group Commander was Captain Geoffrey S E Lacon of Bircher near Leominster
Group commander of these Patrols was Captain J.H.“Hughie” Hall  and Assistant C.Q.M.S. Albert Thomas Pettifer.

Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Monmouthshire Patrols were given Biblical code names. It is assumed this was an initiative of Todd to prevent the use of patrols locations names. 

Currently unknown though thought to be the latter part of 1940.

Sergeant Edward Heath Agnew of Yarkhill  
Corporal John  F Hartwright of Bishops Frome
Private John T Thornton of Suckley    
Private David T Went of Pencombe, Bromyard
Private William Farmer Pudge of Bishops Frome
Private John E Potter of Bringsty                                                     
Private Howard Kelsey of Bishops Frome
Trevor Parker of Cheney Court. Originally was second in command before ranks were issued but left after a short time.
Private Robinson of Bromyard, discharged to RAF 

Hereford Auxiliers

Back Row - J F RYAN, J RHYS-THOMAS, J B SAINSBURY, W R ROBINSON, N D O CAPPER, G O SAINSBURY, J E POTTER, G MORGAN-JONES, V BEACH-THOMAS

Next Row - J F HARTWRIGHT, E LEWIS, E F BARNETT, L J HODELL, G GRIFFITHS, J TURNER, H E SAINSBURY, E C TISDALE, G P THOMAS, F J HANCORN, G H CHAMBERS

Next Row - D HOWARD-SMITH, A T PETTIFER, M G HOOTON, G S E LACON, J H HALL, F W GREEN, R E HOLFORD, A BECK

Front Row - D T WENT, J CLELAND, W F PUDGE, J THORNTON, E R PRICE, L EVANS, R G H BROOKS, F MAYO

Photograph by VIVIANS

Photo Copy - Brian JONES Collection Album 2 BJ59

[Source: http://www.old-ledbury.co.uk/Military.htm#mil2]

The first OB was in Warren Wood on Bromyard Downs, overlooking the race course. It was L-shaped and built of concrete blocks but was too small for all the Patrol.

The second OB was built some distance away from the first at the top of the wood near the reservoir. Built by local contractors who were helped by the local bailiff's men, it was built of corrugated iron and brick with a 20 foot long escape tunnel.

The tunnel emerged between two large rocks in a quarry.

Unhappy with the hinged entrance the Patrol made their own with counterbalance weights and disguised it with leaves and twigs.

Observation Post: A telephone in the OB was linked by two wires to another one hidden under a Yew tree near the road. From here any observer would have a fine view of the Common and any approaching forces.

Other physical remains nearby: Initially explosives were stored in a large barn next to the oasthouse at Brookhouse Farm. When the second OB was built the first became the explosives store.

Explosives were also buried amongst the trees opposite Clater Park and under a Yew tree near the road by Brockhampton School.

Broomyard Down

Bromyard Down looking to Warren Wood. © Copyright Bob Embleton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

A local man Ed Harris describes the OB. 'Back in the late 50's/ early 60's when we played up there, there were 2 x 2 tier metal bunkbeds inside, a small metal table and 4 metal chairs. On shelf was a primus-type stove and several pots and pans.

I remember that in one tin were boxes of matches and some flints- for a lighter possibly.

It was a challenge to squeeze through the small opening that remained in place'

In Feb/March 2016 archaeological work began on both Operational Bases. A full report will be published in the next few months and we hope to add it to this page.

BBC Midlands Today's report on the OB on 4/3/16

Posted by BBC Midlands Today on Friday, 4 March 2016

Our thanks to Neil Ivison for the images and video below.

The three images below are thought to be of the first OB which was thought too small and blown up after the war.

The woods the OB is located in.

Roads and railway lines into Worcestershire.

Local meetings and firearms practice took place at Sergeant Agnew's house at Brookhouse Farm. Grenade training took place at a range at Credenhill and a quarry at Overbury Court.

The Hop Pole Hotel

The Hop Pole Hotel in 2008. © Copyright Pauline Eccles

When Agnew moved to Yarkhill, meetings were held at The Hop Pole Hotel at Bromyard and training exercises were at Stanford Court (the home of John Potter). By this time the pressure had eased and it was almost more of a social event.

Night training exercises were carried out in pairs to the large houses at Brockhampton and Buckinhill.

The Patrol stayed at the OB at weekends from Friday to Saturday. Towards the end the OB had become very damp and the Patrol had a rota to check it a few times a week.

All Hereford Patrols trained at Holmer Grange, the home of Captain “Hughie” Hall. Auxiliers had memories of a large lake with a pontoon bridge over. An exercise was to run over the pontoon with all their equipment, missing the part of the bridge that was primed to collapse. If they didn't fall in, the instructors pushed them in anyway. A stuffed dummy mounted in a doorway was used for silent killing practice.

A competition between all six patrols took place at a farm at Holmer. Each Patrol had to place a magnet with the Patrols name attached on some farm equipment stored in a yard. Getting in and out without being spotted the victor was”Jacob” Patrol.

John Thornton and Howard Kelsey both went to Coleshill three times to train. Travelling by car and finally by Army lorry they remembered unarmed combat training and night patrols.

Unknown, but it is assumed that they had the standard weapons and explosives issued to all patrols. John Thornton also remembers a “different type of knife with a curved end”. This is thought to be a tyre slasher which was later issued to SOE.

Sergeant Edward Agnew was a former Oxford rowing blue and left farming after the war to become a private teacher. Remembered as a outstanding leader he was regarded with a great deal of respect.

Corporal John Hartwright was a First World War veteran from the Royal Horse Artillery. He worked as a lorry driver and mechanic for Fowlers of Bishops Frome. Private Robinson was a teacher from Bromyard. All the other Auxiliers were farmers, John Potter moved into the new launderette business after the war.

Like many others countrywide, John Thornton was called up to the regular army but returned after only a few days.

Captain John Todd gathered a few Patrols at Overbury Court before going overseas. He was asking for volunteers to go to Norway with him. Agnew and another Auxilier put their names forward but it is thought the plan was deemed impractical.

“Jacob” Patrol were told to make their way to Mrs Harris or Mrs Lane, who both lived on the Downs if they were injured during operations.

In a similar system that was set up in Worcestershire, the patrol had a secret “message postbox” through which they could supposedly communicate with “HQ” (thought to be Capt Sandford at Eye Manor). A loose stone in the wall around Brockhampton School, near the rear entranceway left a hole where messages to and from the Patrol could be concealed. The school headmaster, Mr Essenheim ended up “the postman”.

Brockhampton Primary School

Brockhampton Primary School. © Copyright Tony Bailey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Along with other patrols from around the country some of “Jacob” Patrol were recruited to defend the Isle of Wight in June 1944 during the time of D-Day. Here is a story of others experience of D-Day on the Isle of Wight.

Herefordshire patrols had their first reunion dinner on 26th January1945 at Booth Hall in Hereford.

TNA WO199/3389 & transcripts from Stephen Lewins. Hancock data held at B.R.A. The Mercian Maquis by Bernard Lowry & Mick Wilks, Neil Ivison, Ed Harris.

If you can help with any info please contact us.