Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 9:59am on 13/8/12

Thank you for selecting information on the Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Suffolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.

The patrol formed part of No 3 Group North Suffolk which also included

Sibton Patrol
Saxmundham (aka Carlton) Patrol
Wickham Market (aka Little Glemham) Patrol – codename “Thrush”
Stratford St Andrew Patrol
Leiston Patrol – codename “Seamew”
Easton Patrol and Peasenhall Patrol

Group CO: Capt George Scott-Moncrieff *
2nd Lt LWO Turner
Lt TH Denny (Later Major), Barkwith House, Leiston

George Scott-Moncrieff was Group Commander for North and South Suffolk. He lived at Orchard Close, Hacheston near Framlingham during his AU service. His father was Lt Col George Kenneth Scott-Moncrieff of the Royal Engineers, awarded Knight Commander in 1901 for service in India. Capt Scott-Moncrieff was one of the early AU COs along with Andrew Croft, Nigel Oxenden, Captain Peter Fleming and Billy Beyts, all appointed by Colin McVean Gubbins. Info: Stephen Lewins

It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.

Sgt Rev. Trevor Waller
Cpl AD Aldridge
TH Oxborough, news agent
LC Rowe
Norton G Saunders - bus driver
J Richie - farmed at Poplar Hall
William Edgar Harris - teacher
RC Fisher
Ronald Watson, Debenham – he was the local milk-rounds-man and was a member for a short time only

Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol

Back row from left to right: Pte Norton Saunders, Pte LC “Lennie” Rowe, Cpl AD “Doug” Aldridge, Pte RC Fisher, Pte J Ritchie
Front row from left to right: Sgt Reverend Trevor Waller, Capt George Scott-Montcrieff, Pte Wm Edgar Harris.

The OB site is located within the last section of the Suffolk Light Railway line which ends here, at Little London Hill, north-west of Debenham. This section of the long-diused railway line is an overgrown embankment and privately owned.

The OB appears to have collapsed. The central section is presumably intact but is inaccessible.

Debenham OB Drawing

The main chamber measures 12 x 9ft with flat roof of corrugated sheeting supported by sections of railway tracks. There was a drop down entrance shaft which has collapsed. The emergency exits course can clearly be seen in the ground, presenting as an approx 6m long gully.

The OB is orientated N/S.

The site is listed on DoB (recorder: Will Ward) as an AU Observation Post; condition and building materials unknown; built in 1940/41. DoB site reference: S0009926.

According to information compiled at the BRO Museum at Parham, this was not an OP but rather the OB of Debenham Patrol, “located in an earth embankment of the extension to the mid-Suffolk light railway”.

We were able to establish, and to confirm by personal interview of one of the patrol members, that the structure was indeed an Operational Base.

The structure was dug into the embankment (from the top down), which follows a roughly north-south course. It has collapsed, apparently quite some time ago. A depression, about 2m deep at the deepest end, can be seen at its northern end, where the entrance shaft once would have been.

Corrugated sheeting has been arranged to form an open square at ground level above the structure’s north-eastern corner. We don’t believe that the sheets are in their original position as they do stand about 1.20m high above the surrounding ground and would easily have been spotted from a distance.

According to Reverend John Pretyman-Waller (son of patrol leader Reverend Trevor Waller) the OB consisted of two chambers that were accessed by a drop-down shaft between the two.  Both chambers had flat roofs. 

Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1

A general overview of the site

Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol 3

Two images above show the main collapsed chamber

Other physical remains nearby: Corrugated sheeting, some with nails still adhering to it, presumably where it was fastened to timber bracing. Two sections of railway tracks supporting the roof (presumably there are more still in situ underground)

Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

Sections of railway line supporting the roof

The 12ft long main chamber appears to have had a flat roof. At the bottom of the depression much of the corrugated sheeting forming the roof is still in situ, as are two (still visible, perhaps more covered under soil) of the sections of railway track that supported it.

Nails are still attached to parts of the upper rim of the corrugated sheeting, where we believe it would have originally been affixed to a timber frame that over time would have rotted away. We did not see any remains of timber framing.

The central and southern parts of the structure appear to still be intact (or perhaps less deeply collapsed than the northern end) because the ground level here is about 60 cm higher.

Debenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol 5

Remains of emergency escape passage

At its southern end, a pronounced approx 6 metres long gully is leading away from the site, down the west side of the embankment. We believe that it denotes the course of the emergency escape passage. The emergency escape opening would have been at the southern end.

Currently unknown

Sten or Thompson submachine guns, Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives and .38 revolvers plus a variety of explosives, detonators and fuses would have been standard issue.

Currently unknown

Currently unknown


Rev John Pretyman-Waller (son of parol leader Reverend Trevor Waller) – personal interview; Ronald Watson (patrol member) – personal interviews, Chris Holifield; BROM Parham; Will Ward (DoB); Stephen Lewins CART CIO Northumberland

If you can help with any info please contact us.