East Cramlington / Hartford Auxiliary Unit Patrol
and Operational Base.
This page was last updated at 8:29pm on 28/1/14
Thank you for selecting information on the East Cramlington Auxiliary Unit
Patrol and their Operational Base in Northumberland. The info, video and images below have been supplied by
CART's Northumberland CIO Stephen Lewins.
It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.
Sgt Alf W. Smith, Cramlington (School Board Man) Pte. J.T. “Tot” Barrass, Seaton Delaval (Miner)
Pte. Wilf Henderson, East Cramlington
Pte. Richard A. Needham, Cramlington (Mining Engineer)
Pte. Norman M. Thompson, Cramlington (Market Gardener)
Pte. Wilf Wood, East Cramlington
Pte. George W.D. Wylie, Shankhouse ( Co-Op Butcher)
Pte. Dick Besford (He is listed in another patrol but lives too far away to be correct)
An “Elephant” type shelter built by the 184th Special Tunnelling Coy,Royal Engineers. The O.B. is situated on
the south side of the River Blyth in Northumberland. The original Army map references have the site situated near
Arcott Hall to the south of Cramlington, though is wrong as is the Cassini map ref.
The O.B. is at exact location removed by CART. The site has only
a 180 degree operating zone in front of it due to the 100 foot almost sheer drop into the river to the rear.
Special care would have to be taken to avoid falling if you left the O.B. via the escape tunnel as there is very
little space from the end of the tunnel to the sheer drop.
A short video of the site starting at the entrance end.
A short video of the OB site.
Looking to the north along the escape tunnel
In the escape tunnel looking towards the entrance wall in the OB
Looking south along the escape tunnel route back to the OB, the tunnel turns 90 degrees to the right at the
almost horizontal tree.
This shows the two stores in the escape tunnel
The OB entrance wall, note the duck egg blue paint on the wall, I wonder if that was the original interior
The approach to the O.B. site crosses an open field with only one farm house between the main road and the base.
The site is well chosen as the farm has no west facing windows so the patrol could avoid being seen. The O.B. is on
a flat piece of land within mature woods and has plenty of Bracken cover. The original O.B. entrance was accessed
by locating a metal pine cone that was attached to a piece of string that opened the door.
Observation Post/s: There looks like a possible O.P. site about 100 yards east of
the O.B. in the same wood. It gives a good all round view of the flat farm land to the south of the O.B. There is
only a depression in the ground now.
The railway bridges on the East Coast mainline and to the east and west the road bridges crossing the river
Blyth. The large railway viaduct at Plessey had some stonework removed to allow explosives to be hidden for use
when the time came.
The patrol did local training in the woods between Cramlington and Bedlington. They also visited Coupar over the
border in Scotland and did more specialized training there.
All were issued with .45 calibre automatic pistols that came from America along with Thompson sub machine guns,
Mills bombs and Fairbairn Sykes daggers. They also had various explosives and the not to be trusted Time
The patrol did at least one tour at Balmoral guarding the Royal Family. Richard Needham said they were issued
new Glengarry hats to attend Crathy church with the Royals. This tour lasted six weeks.
The patrol along with most of Northumberland Auxiliary Units were sent to the Isle of Wight just before D-Day invasion started to be the
hidden garrison for the the island as a counter German invasion of the south coast had been feared. The Cramlington
men guarded the power station. They returned after four weeks.
Tot Barrass interview and a Richard Needham piece from local newspapers ( Needham was the youngest member of the
patrol by about 10 years) The National Archives at Kew. David Lampe’s book The Last Ditch and a short piece by
John Anthony Quayle the patrol’s original Intel officer. He was
replaced by Victor Albert Gough as I/o. later killed by the