Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Harford Auxiliary Unit and Operational Base 

Thank you for selecting information on the Harford Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Devon. The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford. If you can help with any info please contact Nina by emailing cartdevon@gmail.com

This page was last updated at 6:47pm on 18/1/13

Harford Map

Harford was one of the first patrols in the area to be formed as Lt Alwyn Robertson helped to recruit Auxiliers into the other nearby patrols.

Harford Unit trained with other patrols in the area ( Ugborough, Cornwood, Flete, Diptford, Yealmpton and Plympton) under the command of Captain William Falcon (of  Cornwood Patrol ) based at “Slade” in Cornwood.

(Image taken at Captain Falcon's house "Slade". Shows Ugbrough, Cornwood, Flete, Diptford and Harford Patrols.) Image from The Book of Cornwood and Lutton © Halsgrove 1997

Capt. Alwyn Philip ( “Robbie”) Robertson of Harford Ash Farm
(2nd Lt, then Lt 1st June 1943, Capt  from 1st August 1944 )
Howard Howell  of Lukesland
Roy Howell  of Lukesland, son of Howard. Discharged 24/11/1943 to join Royal Marines.
Ferrer Loveridge of Lukesland Farm
James Snell  evacuated to Lukesland
Clifford Andrew of Wisdom Farm
A John Andrew of Wisdom Farm
                                                         
Cyril Wellington of Plympton Patrol, who trained alongside Harford Patrol was also made Captain on 1st August 1944

John Howell, through his Uncle Roy Howell has been able to pin point the possible location of the OB as being in a rough field on the edge of open moor (Dartmoor) called “Sentries” not far across the “Butterbrook” from “Torr Rocks”.

Harford is a small scattered villiage in the valley of the river Erme 2 ½ miles North of Ivybridge and consists of mainly outlying farms.

The OB was in a field called “Sentries”. Opposite, and the other side of “The Butterbrook” from Torr Rocks. In a rough and scrubby field next to open Moorland (Dartmoor)

The Butterbrook is a delta of small streams leading from what is now a reservoir, supplying some outlying farms with their water supply.

We were accompanied on one of our field visits to “Senties”  by a dowser Brenda Thorning. She used a dowsing pendulum  over a map of the area and dowsing rods on the ground. Without any prompting she sugested and led us to an area we had already decided was worth a more comprehensive search.

Harford Auxiliary Unit Patrol 1

Possible main body of the OB showning only as a vague depression in the ground. This is looking towards where the escape tunnel would be.

Harford Auxiliary Unit Patrol 2

Possible exit of escape tunnel in ravine of The Butterbrook. Immediately to the left of the centre tree is a distrubed area the size of an escape tunnel. Above it is a long thin depression in the ground.

The ground has a thick coverage of brambles etc.in one small area that is a deeper pit. General grass covering but field does consist of many gorse bushes which may well have covered the area in the past.

Roy Howell remembers the OB as being very well made and completely camouflaged on the surface. It was entered through a trap door and a ladder took you down into it. He remembers bunk beds, food, ammunitions and explosives. He thinks it would have been quite possible to live there for some time.
We could not find any remains from it being blown up therefore we consider it may have been removed unless any further information comes to light.  The structure could have been made use of around the farm.

Harford Auxiliary Unit Patrol 3

Vague, long, thin depression leading towards the ravine of The Butterbrook.

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: The larger depression in the ground is approx 20ft by 10ft ending in the south with a 9” thick raised strip which follows the natural contor of the land. The other side of this strip is a smaller, deeper pit. Leading from this is a vague thin depression in the ground exiting as a disturbed area high in the ravine of The Butterbrook.

Orientation of OB: Lands slopes North East to South West in a gradual decline, getting steeper  after  the OB location. There is a verticle but easily climbable drop from the exit of the escape tunnel down into the Butterbrook of approx 15tf. The OB was orientated North to South.

Harford Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

View from the OB looking South West. The clump of trees on the skyline is Hanger Down. This is where Corwood Patrol were based so the two patrols would have had a visual link.

Harford Auxiliary Unit Patrol 5

This is the view from the observational post on Harford Moor at Western Beacon. Nothing remains in the area.

Observation Post: On  Harford Moor, near Western Beacon. Dartmoor. Nothing Auxiliary Uniit related remains  on the site but there are various carins, small quarries and  typical dartmoor rockie out crops that they could have utilised. Nearby Torr Rocks is made up of a mass of granite outcrops that, knowing the area, would have made a fabulous lookout and hiding point.
The area of the Cornwood Patrols OB would have been easily visible and possibly communicable. 

The Andrews brothers certainly trained at Coleshill as their sister can remember them going away in a lorry for some weekends. For them to leave the immediate area of Ivybridge was very unusual.

Weekend training was carried out at Captain William Falcons house “Slade” near Cornwood along with Ugborough Patrol, Cornwood Patrol, Diptford Patrol, Flete Patrol, Yealmpton Patrol and Plympton Patrol.

Night exercises were often undertaken against the other patrols in the area.

On one occasion the patrols all met in The Kings Arms in Ivybridge to receive medical training in the event of serious injuries and not being able to get access to first aid facilities. This was carried out by a Captain of the Army Medical Corps who gave instructions on how to deal with a wounded man. The volunteer who lay “wounded” had been shot in the stomach which the Captain described in great detail. It was a warm evening and secrecy demanded all the doors and windows to be fast shut. The atmosphere became very oppressive to the extent that an Auxilier fainted.

Possably the main A38 leading East out of Plymouth and the various railway viaducts of the main train line leading out of Plymouth linking to the rest of the country.

Unknown

Howard Howell was a Canadian Officer in World War 1.  He was a JP and very “correct” in his views.He settled in Exeter and later moved to Lukesland in 1931. His son Roy was also an Auxilier until he was allowed to be discharged into the Royal Marines  in November 1943. Lukesland gardens are now open to the public at various times of the year  http://www.lukesland.co.uk/index.htm ) Lukesland had two German POW's and was a Red Cross Depot during the war and had a constant stream of service men and women staying there.

Ferrer Loveridge was the nephew of Howard's wife and managed Lukesland Farm.

James Snell's house in Ayreville Road was bombed out in the Blitz of Plymouth and he and his family were evacuated to Lukesland. He was the secretary of Plymouth Coal Company. The area saw a never-ending procession of people who came out from Plymouth during the blitz. They were looking for a place to sleep, anywhere away from the ruins of their homes.

Clifford Andrew had a “certificate from the King” that states he served from 8th August 1940 to 31st December 1944. He and his brother were both farmers.

Alwyn Robertson, known as “Robbie”, contracted polio as a young man in China. This left him with a weakened arm and nearly paralysed hip. He overcame these disabilities to become Captain and lead a very active life in farming after the war and traveled extensivley.

Jimmy Dalling, the gardener at Lukesland once claimed to have been in the area of the OB and heard someone say “Its alright men, the coast is clear”. Looking over some rocks he saw some men emerge from a hole in the ground.

After the patrol was disbanded, local people remember that a digger was about to remodel the pond at the front of Captain Falcon's old house “Slade”. Andrew Wotton (Cornwood Patrol) suddenly appeared shouting “STOP”. Captain Falcon had arranged for some of the surplus explosives to be dumped in the pond after stand down.

Twas as Twas by Gillian Venables, John Howell, The kind help of Noel Thornton and Mike Barber with their local and tactical knowledge. Brenda Thorning for dowsing