Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Haricot Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base

This page was last updated at 3:58pm on 20/3/13

Thank you for selecting information on the Haricot Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Hastingleigh, Kent. The info and images below have been supplied by CART CIO for Kent Phil Evans.

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.

Mid 1940

Patrol Leader was Peter Leonard
Ron Martin
Jack Long
Jim Scott (dropped out due to age)
Alf Southern (Dropped out due to age)
Trevor Lockwood
Alan Chester

Jack Long   

 

(Left) Jack Long

 

 

This patrol was initially set up by Peter Fleming in 1940. In 1941 Ron Martin was asked by one of the patrol members if he would be interested in joining which he promptly said yes. Shortly after Ron joined two of the seven man patrol left due to their age. This dropped the number to five which it stayed at for the rest of the war. The patrol fell under the command of Jack Graves who was Group leader for the local area.

Henry Hall Ron Martin and Billy Beyts

Henry Hall Ron Martin and Billy Beyts

Ron Martin: “My patrol was code named ‘Haricot’ and covered the Hastingleigh, Wye and Bodsham areas. Although we were not supposed to know they existed, we knew the men involved in the Crundale Patrol, but we did not know where their OB was located. After the war I met up with volunteers from the Wootton Patrol, based a little to the east of us. We presumed that both Hastingleigh and Crundale had vegetable code names (HARICOT and CARROT respectively) because it would be easier to drop the names into a conversation without the Germans being any the wiser."

The youngest member of the Patrol, at 17, was Alan Chester. He was originally a member of the Sissinghurst Home Guard before moving to Wye. 

Alan ChesterAlan Chester: “I didn’t know much about the operation as a whole. I think I was recommended by Jack Long as I worked for him, as did Peter Leonard and Trevis Lockwood. I only knew them slightly by face as I never worked with them on the farms. I remember Peter Leonard was a ‘playboy’ who had quite a bit of cash to spend. He would smoke his pipe in the ice house OB and knock it out on the boxes of explosives. Our supplies were dropped off at night in the fields near the Devil’s Kneading Trough between Wye and Hastingleigh. We would then manhandle them across country to the OB. I don’t think there was much organisation behind the whole thing.

When the first Doodlebugs came over we had no idea what they were, so Captain  McNicholl sent me on my bicycle to follow and see what happened to it.

I do not remember training at Coleshill or The Garth, although I used to walk by The Garth every day going to and from work or while courting. I never knew it was the HQ.

My brother, Joseph Alfred Chester, was in the Crundale Patrol, but again I did not learn of this until 2000. He never ever mentioned it to anyone, nor did I; until now. At Stand Down we handed our weapons and explosives in at Taylor’s Garage in Wye.”

Location 1: A local Manor Ruins (Exact location known to CART)

The patrol utilised the cellars of a local mansion that was pulled down just before the war. But this location was considered unsafe because it was to close to the road so the O.B. was moved. The base is located on private land so please do not visit.

Haricot Auxiliary Unit and their Operational Base 1

  Haricot Auxiliary Unit and their Operational Base 2
 
Location 2: Ice House
This was chosen as a better base as it was more secluded than the Manor. The Ice House had not been used for many years as the manor house (basement of this was their first O.B.) had been derelict for some time. Right outside the entrance to the Ice House was used at the time of the war as a rubbish pit. The trapdoor was made by attaching old tin cans and other rubbish to a wooden board that when in place blended in with the rest of the pit. The only downside was the lack of escape exit. Joists were put up to make floors and on the lower level weapons and explosives were stored. A table on a hinge was used as trap door to get to the lower level. Unfortunately the Ice House was long ago destroyed when landowner at the time was clearing space.

Haricot Auxiliary Unit and their Operational Base 3

 Ron at Trapdoor to celler OB

Owen Graves patrol leader for Crundale Patrol (Carrot patrol)

“We had an OB at Evington, in the old ice house. It was on two floors and all the stores were on the lower level. We had to check the boxes of phosphorous bombs because we’d been told they were rusting and needed to be greased up. My brother, Jack, and I went there with another chap from the Crundale group, Bish Legg; he worked for us at the lime quarry. In the top floor of the hide was a square table and the legs were fixed to the floor so that when you lifted it up there was passage down to the next level. Underneath this hatch was another one going down to the bottom floor. Well, somebody had left the hatch open and when I went through the top one I fell straight down to the bottom level. Then we lifted the boxes of bombs down and somebody dropped one.”

This Patrol had no Observation Posts but the army did make them a small hide for explosives and grenades in a nearby wood. 

Ron at Trapdoor to celler OB  

No specific targets were given to this patrol.

Training took place at the Garth normally every two to three weeks. Ron remembers Captain McNicholl teaching them. One thing he told them on training one day was that he expected every patrol member to be able to get a head shot at 50 yards with a rifle with standard sights.

One day Peter Leonard was called down to the Garth because some high ranking men were visiting to inspect. He was told to wear uniform so this he did. Although on turning up at the Garth one of the Lovet scouts a Sgt Macdonald still based there to train men couldn’t stop laughing at him which he found very puzzling. After a while he calmed himself down and they told peter why he was laughing! Peter had put his Gaiters on upside down!

Ron Martin: “We trained at The Garth once a month. We were taught how to use plastic explosives, kill sentries with a knife or our bare hands, set booby traps and generally how to cause as much mayhem as possible. We learnt some pretty nasty stuff. We also trained on our own in the Bavinge Valley and at Bodsham. We went to Coleshill, once."

But the patrol also trained with another patrol nearby at Crundale. They would go to a certain field in Crundale to practice shooting and using explosives. When Ron first joined the patrol on his first trip to Crundale to train with the other patrol there was a shooting competition. Everyone laughed and jokes saying how they would beat Ron. They didn’t laugh for long as Ron quickly won the competiton and showed them!

On one occasion they were testing unit charges by placing them under a propeller hub from a crashed spitfire and they would see how far they could send it into the air.

Also mock attacks would be done against the local Home guard and nearby army stationed at Wye.

 Ron Sten Gun

 

 

 

Ron Martin: “Personal weapons included .38 Smith & Wesson revolver and a dagger. The Patrol had one Thompson sub machine gun, two Ross rifles and one converted Ross grenade launcher. Later, we were all issued with Sten guns. We wore battle dress but without badges or insignia.” 

Left: Ron Martin holding a Sten Gun

At stand down the patrols Limpet mines where left behind by the Army who said they didn’t want them and the patrol could dispose of them. Ron Martin took some up to a field in Hastingleigh where he proceeded to put one down a rabbit hole and set up the fuse wire. Once this was done he lit it and hid. Just at this moment their patrol leader Peter Leonard turned up in his car and rushed over to Ron and told him the Army had changed their mind and wanted the mines back. At this moment Ron told him to “Get his bloody head down” and the field suddenly erupted behind Peter who luckily managed to get cover just before the explosion!

When Ron had to take his personal equipment back to the Garth he decided he wanted to try and keep his Fairburn Sykes Fighting knife. So he thought if he loosened the handle he could make out it was broken and they might let him keep it! Unfortunately they saw straight through his trick and took it anyway.


Kind Thanks go to Adrain Westwood for letting us use information from his website.  Also I would like to thank Rex Lancefield for letting me use information from his book  “Recollections of Rural Life”
Other information is from Phil Evans own research into the patrol.

If you can help with any info please contact us.