Fakenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base
This page was last updated at 9:09am on 7/1/14
AN EXCLUSIVE CART REPORT
Thank you for selecting information on the Fakenham
Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Norfolk. Most
of the info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian
The patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 10 which also included Hockwold, East Dereham and Lakenheath/Thetford Patrols.
CO Capt Walter G Gentle (Brandon) - Local butcher and pig farmer specialising in saddleback pigs. His nickname
Captain Gentle M.C. was awarded the M.B.E. in the 1945 New Year's Honours List for "Services rendered to the 202
Battalion Home Guard".
2nd Lt. Eric G Field, brother of Sgt. Philip R. Field
2nd Lt R.F.St.B Wayne
2nd Lt DC Carey
? 2nd Sgt GR Holmes
Sgt Bertam Warnes
Cpl Charles John Williams
Pte George Brown
Pte Ralph Fuller
Pte Harry Gates
Pte Donald Frank Gilder
Pte Ernest ‘Ernie’ Charles Huggins - blacksmith
Pte F J Napp (transferred)
Pte G Dawson (transferred)
The OB is situated on private land. The land is owned by the 8th Marquess Townshend and was accessed by kind
It was built into alluvial gravel and sand deposits on the Fakenham side of the Raynham Estate. In the 1940s the
area was covered by woodland.
Many of the trees were blown down in the Great Storm in 1987. It was during tree clearance work that estate
workers accidentally drove over the entrance shaft with heavy machinery, resulting in its collapse. A glazed
ceramic field pipe emerging into the entrance shaft is still in situ. (Seen above)
(Above) The exposed end wall of the main chamber was blocked with corrugated sheeting in order to make it
inaccessible. At some later time the exit also collapsed, exposing the upper rim of the structure and creating a
small opening in the surrounding soil.
Sections of corrugated sheeting forming the end walls were pushed into the main chamber where they remain
to-date. (Above) Circular cut-outs in some of the sheets denote where vent pipes would once have been passed
through. As far as we were able to ascertain, there was at least one vent pipe at each end.
The main chamber is a standard size (16 x 9 ft) elephant shelter and intact, apart from missing sections of end
wall. Over time soil has trickled into the interior, considerably raising the floor level. The layer of topsoil
covering the chamber is about 2ft (60 cm) thick.
A lookout post may have been about 50 yards north of the OB site. No traces remain.
Our thanks go to Charles 8th Marquess Townshend, Raynham Hall, for his kind permission to visit and
record the site.
RAF Sculthorpe, RAF Raynham; Mid-Norfolk (GER) railway line.
Locally and at Leicester Square Farm near Syderstone.
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.
Bob Wayne, son of 2nd Lt R.F.St.B Wayne has kindly provided the following recollections.
The young couple (Bob's Mother and Father) made contingency plans, if the balloon had gone up Father would have
departed to the “woods”. They lived in a fairly remote farm house so they made an arrangement that if a vase was in
a certain window it meant – it is safe to approach the house, if it was in another window it meant Germans are
here, stay away.
Father would talk about certain incidents in training (like the apocryphal story of the inspecting regular
officer who was challenged to find the entrance to the dugout, it was in the middle of a patch of stinging nettles
and he was from a Scots regiment!) He never mentioned names and never disclosed the sites of the hides to us. We
had plenty of paraphernalia, pressure switches, time pencils, a bullet mold, single ball 12 bore cartridges, safety
fuse lying about when we were young, I still have some of the original manuals.
At some point my Father became an explosives instructor, possibly a peripatetic bomb man. He always liked to
tell the story of doing an explosive course on Fakenham Race course. As a grand finale they put a charge in the
middle of a pond at the back of the car park. As anticipated a column of black mud went up in the air – laced with
hundreds of flying gin bottles!
The other story which I cannot authenticate is that according to family folk lore my Grandfather (Fred W’s
father in law) Col Q. E. Gurney (Home Guard) was also involved in the Auxiliary Units. The story goes that as well
as being the local HG commander he was also to be used as a liaison officer conveying orders, and possibly
ammunition and medical supplies. As such he would not have been attached to or would have trained with any of the
cells. This is plausible:
They lived about 8 miles from my parents and I assume my mother would have had a lot of contact with her mother
but it was only after the war that they acknowledged that they were both in the AU but the mother and daughter had
never mentioned it.
John Sutton (gamekeeper); Stephen Lewins CART CIO Northumberland, Bon
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