Dymchurch 'Toadstool' Auxiliary Unit Patrol
This page was last updated at on 6/12/16
Thank you for selecting information on the Dymchurch 'Toadstool' Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their
Operational Base in Kent. The info and images below have been supplied by Phil Evans and Martin Male.
Based at Dymchurch they used the code name Toadstool.
Dymchurch is a village in the Shepway district of Kent and on the Romney Marsh.
The first I.O for Kent was Grenadier Guards Captain Peter Fleming. He was the man responsible for setting up the Units in Kent under the
name of the XII corps Observation Unit. In late 1940 he left and a Royal Fusilier Captain Norman Field then took over as I.O. At some point in Normans command he split
Kent in two. West Kent came under the command of Captain George MacNicholl and Norman commanded East Kent. In
late 1941 Norman was taken away from the Units and George MacNicholl took over as I.O. for the whole of Kent for
the rest of the war.
Dymchurch was part of Group 8 which was under the Area Command of Captain W G Gardner of Birchington and the Group Command of Lt J E Graves of Crundale and Assistant Group Commander 2nd Lt C Graves of Ashford.
Beginning half of 1941
Image supplied by The Dymchurch and District
Sergeant Charles “Don” Symonds, 7.12.1921, Eastbridge House
David Symonds, 24.9.1916, Buckhurst, Dymchurch
Albert J Ovenden, 29.12.1913, North Fording Farm, St Mary in the Marsh
Alfred G Ovenden, 6.12.1905, Westend Villa, Dymchurch
Cecil Watts, 1.11.1910, The Bungalow, Burmarsh
Frank J Watts, 26.12.1906, The Bungalow, Burmarsh
Edward V “Ted” Piddock, 27.8.1904, Orgaswich, Burmarsh
This OB is on private land and is located on the edge of a field by a dyke. There
is foliage around it now but during the war the location was void of any cover. The size of OB is 20 foot x 8
foot x 8 foot and it is in a good condition, still structurally sound but prone to flooding.
Edward Carpenters “Romney Marsh at War”: 'The three Operational Bases, designed by Captain Field and
built by Corbens of Maidstone, were identical in size, being 20 ft long, 8 ft wide and 8 ft high. The external
walls were of reinforced concrete lined with bitumen, and white bricks were used on the inside, with a ventilating
downpipe in each corner and three air outlets along the centre of the chamber. There was an entrance at either end,
with dwarf walls at the bottom in case the enemy should drop a grenade into the entrance shaft. Iron bars were let
into the shaft brickwork to form steps. The entrances had camouflaged wooden covers.'
Inside OB – note tide mark around walls.
There are two improvised metal covers that when removed revealed vertical shafts about 10 feet deep with metal rungs built into the corners for access.
You can see the ‘tide mark’ around the walls showing how high the water must get in there, and a timber batten still fixed to the wall where the candles are.
It has brick lined walls and a concrete floor and roof. The OB was discovered by Canadian troops in January 1944 and the patrol were stood down at that time.
Albert Overden: 'I enjoyed the training at Bilting (The Garth). That was
usually on a Sunday. We were taught by the Lovat Scouts to blow up trees so that they fell on a certain part of a
road as roadblocks, also to blow up a convoy of vehicles. They had some old vehicles in the woods to practise on,
things like that. We very rarely went to our OB; we were told not to in case it was discovered and, as you know, it
was by troops in 1944. We were then disbanded and returned to the Home Guard.'
Unknown but it is assumed they had access to the standard arms and equipment.
Next section is taken from Edward Carpenters “Romney Marsh at War”
Albert Ovenden, also a looker, lived at Eastbridge, inland from Dymchurch, and was a member of the
Auxiliary Patrol Toadstool based at Eastbridge.
Don Symonds came to see me and asked me to join him and he explained as much as he knew or could. He told me it
was secret and I was to tell no one. At the time I lived at Sankey Farm, I was looker foreman for Mr Hobbs. My
brother Alfred was also recruited by Don Symonds, but we kept it quiet, not even my sister knew until you made the
enquiry [November 1994].
(Image - The surviving member of the Eastbridge Auxiliary Group, Albert Ovenden, at his home in Ramsgate,
This Patrol consisted of three sets of brothers ; the Symonds, Watts and Overdens.
TNA ref WO199/3390 and WO199/3391
Hancock File held at B.R.A
Edward Carpenters “ Romney Marsh at War”
If you can help with any info please