• Re-enactors set up camp, focusing on the Auxiliers. • Talks were given in the granary • Visits were available to the 70 year old underground Operational Base • Visits to the new replica Operational Base • Archaeological Finds interpreted in a new display • Art Exhibition of Coleshill House by Robert Stiby OBE • People visited the restored Guard House • The Warneford Big Band played • People had a 1940’s makeover • There was a Street Party in the Carpenters Yard • Military Vehicles on display • Austin 7 Club
Top Secret Coleshill: Why Coleshill and how the Auxiliers were formed by Bill King: In the lead up to the Second World War, the need for a force to resist possible invasion from a belligerent Germany was quickly recognised. Hear of the Auxiliary Unit’s formation, Colonel Gubbins, why training took place at Coleshill, recruitment, and how the Auxiliars were rolled out across the UK.
Coleshill House: the story of an architectural masterpiece by Karen Fielder: Coleshill House once stood on a high terrace overlooking the estate and countryside around it. Many features we see today owe their existence to this country mansion. But what was the house like, who lived there, and why exactly did it disappear? Explore the 300-year history of this important building, and why, despite efforts to save it, the house was eventually demolished after the terrible fire of 1952.
Auxiliers Uncovered: Understanding the three elements of the Auxiliary Units by Chris Pratt: Learn about the girls in Special Duties Section, radio espionage, revolvers, cyanide tablets, recruitment in Harrods and D-Day deception with Operation Fortitude. Also under the spotlight will be Operational Bases, the formation of phantom Home Guard Battalions and SAS recruitment. Finally, hear of betrayal and murder in France and Stand Down, which came with the order to keep quiet for 50 years.
As the sun set over Coleshill and the re-enactors packed up their tents we look back at the 48
hours that made up the Coleshill Underground Weekend and and say well done to everyone who took part.
The weekend followed months of planning by the National Trust at Coleshill and was a vast
improvement on the previous event in 2010.
There were many catering retailers this year and the food options were very tasty. Entertainment
was provided by the Warneford Big Band and there was plenty to do for children and families from
face painting to code breaking.
On Saturday the new replica Operational Base was opened by Coleshill trained Auxilier
Bob Millard and after a brilliant
speech he cut the ribbon with his Fairbairn Sykes dagger before taking the time to talk to young
and old about his training and service.
Crowds then queued for hours to have a sneak peak inside the unfinished
CART researchers wandered around the vast estate answering questions and helping
people find the key parts of the site.
On both days there were three talks given. Bill King spoke about how the Auxiliers
were formed. Karen Fielder spoke about the architectural masterpiece that was Coleshill House and
Chris Pratt from the British
Resistance Museum at Parham educated listeners on the three elements to the British
The talks were full on both days.
Auxiliary Re-Enactors brought the sites wartime use to life with weapons displays, loud bangs
and hands on practical education of weapons and explosives used. Tony Salter brought his excellent
mobile Aux display and fired up the children’s imagination.
The 70 year old original Operational Base set deep in the
Coleshill woods was also open and National Trust volunteer
Roger Green provided guided tours and more than comfortably filled the boots of the
There were many vintage vehicles on display with the Austin 7 club and the Military
Vehicle Trust (MVT) present.
On Sunday CART researchers set up a small display in the Granary and answered many questions
from the public.
Impressionist, playwright and comedian Rory Bremner even popped in and picked up a
CART flyer. Later he posted on Twitter.
Thanks to all who took part and all who attended and special thanks to Keith
Blaxhall who kept the Aux fire burning at Coleshill for over 30 years.
BBC Radio Oxford Interview (11/9/12) - Liza Dibble from the NT Coleshill talking about the event and site.
BBC Radio Wiltshire Interview (13/9/12) - CART Founder Tom Sykes talking about the event. Please
note that BBC Wiltshire said that CART were organising this and were displaying in the interview and this
is not true and the opposite of what we told them.