Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Dawlish Auxiliary Unit Patrol Known As 'The Haldon Commandos'

Thank you for selecting information on the Dawlish Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO Nina Hannaford. cartdevon@gmail.com

This page was last updated at 12:19pm on 23/1/14

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.

Dawlish is a town on the South Devon coast that has become a seaside resort.

From the information received so far all the Patrols of Group 5 (Dawlish, Teignmouth and Starcross) seem to have worked and trained very closely together. Looking at the names and addresses on the Nominal Rolls it is almost impossible to make three distinctly separate patrols.

Each Patrol therefore, has been compiled by their group photograph where available. This may have lead to errors as to which Auxilier is recorded in which Patrol.

Please contact Nina Hannaford on cartdevon@gmail.com if you have any information to help.

From the very first meeting in Whitehall in July 1940 the Intelligence Officer for Devon and Cornwall (named Auxiliary Units SW Area) was Captain (later Major, then Colonel) J W Stuart Edmundson, an officer in the Royal Engineers. He liaised with the regular army and received supplies and equipment and formed all the Patrols. He was assisted by Lieutenant (later Captain) John “Jack” Dingley who became IO for Cornwall in 1943 though he may have assumed the roll before that.

In November 1943 Devon and Cornwall were separated and Edmundson was succeeded in Cornwall by Captain John Dingley and in Devon by Major W W “Bill” Harston who would remain in command until near stand down. At the end of Harston's command he would cover “No 4 Region” being the whole of the South West Peninsular and Wales.

The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.

After 1941 a “grouping” system was developed where some patrols within a demographic area would train together under more local command.

At Stand Down, Devon is registered as area 16. Dawlish is part of Group 5 along with Teignmouth and Starcross. The Group Commander is Lieutenant A W Eardley of Dawlish.
The South Devon Area Commander is Captain Cyril Wellington originally of Plympton Patrol.

Reg McClaughlin Auxiliary Resistance

Group 5 Devon 203

Back Row Left to right (Dawlish Patrol in bold)

Bill Leyman,  Ernie Glover,  Unknown,  Ernest Mummery,  Jeff Goodridge,  Jim Burch,  Cecil Hatherley,  Tom Weeks

Middle Row
Jack Addison,  Reg McClaughlin,  Herbert Thorp,  Fred Goodridge,  Fred Mortimore,  Albert Trapnell,  Henry Blackmore,  Unknown

Front Row
Arthur Carpenter,  Reggie Penaligion,  Cecil Gilpin,  Lt. Alfred Eardley,  Theodore Manning,  Eddie Goldsworthy,  Norman Rowe

 Currently unknown.

Sergeant Theodore Manning
Corporal Herbert “Herbie” Thorp
Edgar “Eddie” Goldsworthy
Henry Blackmore
Henry “Jack”Addison
Fred Mortimore (transferred to 9th Battalion HG in Jan 1943)
H V Green 

Though many of the Auxiliers lived in or near to Dawlish. Their Operational base was almost 8 miles from the town centre.

The modern day road cutting of the A38 Devon Expressway gives a false impression of the original contours of the land. Originally 20ft or more above the present road surface the OB would have been on the hillside of the wooded area of Great Haldon.

Condition of OB: Destroyed

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc:  Dug by the men, by hand, it is remembered to be a small Nissen Hut structure. Rather than a drop down shaft it had an entrance tunnel that had a dog leg in it.

The overall structure was covered with straw (thinking it would insulate it in Winter) before being buried again under soil. It was also meant to have had running water.

Observation Post: Unknown

 Dawlish Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1

The A38 Devon Expressway where the OB would have been many feet above the present road surface.

Dawlish Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

Copyright Dawlish Gazette Oct 1977 detailing Dawlish OB (Haldon, near racecourse) and Teignmouth OB is recorded as at Ashcombe Tower.

 

The OB would have over looked the previous line of the “old” A38, the main road between the strategically important port of Plymouth and the county town of Exeter so this must have been an obvious target.
The railway line running through the town would have been a suspected target for all of Group 5. Running right along side the sea shore it often causes rail disruption to the rest of the SW in bad weather even today.

Dawlish Auxiliary Unit Patrol 3

The main train line out of the West country between Teignmouth and Dawlish.

RNAS Haldon  Aerodrome (HMS Heron II) was also close by.

Starcross Rifle Range

Shooting practice took place at the rifle range at Starcross (above).

Suspected training areas for all the Patrols of group 5 are the many forests and plantations on and around Great Haldon Ridge and Little Haldon.

 Unknown, but it is assumed that they had the standard weapons and explosives issued to all patrols.

Manning, Thorp, Blackmore and Green were all awarded the Defence Medal after stand down.

Sergeant Manning worked as a transport haulier and so was always the driver when needed. He would collect Henry Thorp every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon in his sports car.
He was a highly religious man who would take the banter from his Auxiliers with good humour.
When the patrol were first supplied with explosives and before they had extensive training, Manning offered to remove a tree stump in the garden of a Mr Gillard. Slightly over estimating the amount of explosive required he managed to blow out all the windows of the house.

Henry Thorp was a butcher and a very capable man. His son remembers being allowed to “play” with his Sten gun.

Eddie Goldsworthy was a gardener, Henry Blackmore a farmer and Fred Mortimore worked for the Post Office. H Green has yet to be identified on the group picture.

Jack Addison leaved nearest to the OB and worked in a garage in Kennford and was a well known speedway rider for the Exeter Falcons. He also had a smallholding raising pigs and chickens and making cider in the Autumn.

Jack watched with interest as contractors started to carve their way through the hillside to create that section of the A38 Devon Expressway during the 1970s. As they got closer to the still stocked OB he warned them they may need to stop and call “someone from the army”. The ( Navy) bomb disposal squad were called. It is, at present, unknown what their actions were but various items ended up in the possession of a Cornish Auxilier.

An (unrecorded) early member of the Auxiliary Units in the area was Major Arnold Riley (MM) later to be in command of “B” Company (Dawlish) 9th (Newton Abbot) Battalion Home Guard. He had a commissioned rank in the Warwickshire Regiment in WW1 and was a lecturer at Exeter University College. He is remembered as an officer, a true gentleman and a excellent communicator. He appears to have remained in contact with and supportive of the Patrols as he was a guest at their first reunion dinner at The Anchor Hotel in Kennford in 1946.

A later reunion in December 1950 has Riley and Devon IO Edmundson as guests of honour. Footballer, Bert Hoyle, ex Exeter City and present (1950) Bristol Rovers was made an honorary Auxilier.

Dawlish Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

Article from The Western Times 15th Dec 1950
At present it is unknown who Messrs. Base, Hopkins or Moore were or how Bert Hoyle was connected to the Patrols.

A surprisingly large number of Group 5 were awarded the Defence Medal after stand down and it is rumoured that this was due to lobbying by Major Arnold Riley.

TNA ref WO/199/3390
The Hancock data held at B.R.A.
Dawlish Gazette, Western Times
Dawlish at War by Tricia Whiteway and Sheila Wain,  On Guard by AR Thompson both published by Dawlish Local History Group.
Robin Thorp, Jean Waldron, Sue White, Tim Mole, Tim Whiteway, Tricia Whiteway, Forestry Commission at Haldon.

If you can help with any info please contact Nina by emailing cartdevon@gmail.com

This page has been kindly sponsored by Andy Chatterton