Jack Blandford - Wiltshire Scout Patrol (East
Information kindly provided by his son Denis
This page was last
Enlisted into The Wiltshire
England declared war on Germany, 3rd September 1939. On 26th April 1940,
Jack was called up and enlisted at Devizes, in the Wiltshire Regiment. After 6 months training, he asked the
R.S.M. if he could transfer to the 7th Battalion, stationed at Barton-on-Sea. Being closer to home it was
also easier to visit his family and brothers.
Jack represented the Battalion in a few running sports (100 & 200 yds, plus cross-country). Because of
his athletic abilities, he was excused guards etc. but patrolled in pairs the cliff tops and the coastline, pill
box to pill box.
Jack had a great sense of humour and was always able to see the funny side of
life. He would often recall the time when the Home Guard in his beloved Hampshire had made a wooden artillery
gun, and placed it on the edge of a field to put off the German fighter planes. Indeed, a German fighter
plane had flown over and 'retreated' back to its homeland. A victory? until hours later that day, it
returned, flying low towards the gun emplacement and dropped a bomb. As it bounced, it became obvious that
they had dropped a wooden bomb on the wooden gun!
One dark and foggy night they accidentally entered a mine field,
but kept their cool, and crawled out at day break by following the trodden-down grass made by where they
walked in. They escaped a charge by proving to the C.S.M. how they were able to survive and back
On route marches Jack's country upbringing taught him that eating Sorrell would
quench his thirst, and enable him to spread his water supply up the end of the day.
Jack's soldiering skill was recognised and he was assigned to the Battle School to help train new recruits.
They were using blanks to fire over the heads of the recruits to encourage them to keep their heads down whilst
learning the best way to crawl. There was a lot of hollering as heads were raised, so Jack had an idea to use
something from his youth - a spud-gun! He took a blank cartridge and pushed it into a potato, took aim and
fired. It worked perfectly and he could hear the 'spud' ping off the recruits' tin helmets. He was
later reprimanded, as everyone thought he was using live rounds!
Jack volunteered for anything that was offered in order to avoid the 'spit and
polish' and although up for promotion to Corporal, whilst stationed at Barton-on-Sea he volunteered for the
Auxiliary Units - and was accepted.
Volunteering for Auxiliary
Joining Auxiliary Units Wiltshire Patrol East Dorset,
Although nobody knew anything about them, Jack joined the Auxiliary Units summer
1942. He caught a train to Dorchester Station where a car picked him up, and was eventually introduced to the
other chaps. Jack was one of 13 men who made up a Scout section.
They went to Coleshill for
specialised training that included explosives, fighting (Jack called Thuggery), knife fighting and
sabotage. Weapons included a .38 Smith & Wesson pistol, Fairburn Sykes fighting knife with reinforced
hilt and Tommy guns.
Jack personalised his 'dagger' by smearing candle wax on the reinforced hilt,
scratching his initials into the wax with a pin and using the acid from a time pencil to etch his initials into the
Their shoulder titles were stripped from their battle dress but kept their cap badge on their forage caps.
As it was summer they lived in tents behind Chesil Beach, but were eventually taught to build their own Operational Base that was accessed through a hollowed out tree stump. From this they
patrolled the East Dorset coast line.
When asked about his time in the OB he said the plastic explosives gave off fumes that gave hima
and the other members terrible headaches.
When the sticks of dynamite started to sweat, they carefully collected them together and safely set fire to
They learned all about the local terrain, so they could find their way around in the darkness of night.
Jack was trained to use all known allied weapons and enemy weapons - strip down and reassemble them. He
trained in night fighting by wearing blacked out swimming goggles. In particular knife fighting. They called
the style of fighting 'thuggery'.
He recalled one particular instance where he was given leave. He was allowed to carry his Smith & Wesson
revolver - and live rounds. Because he didn't have shoulder flashes, he was stopped at a railway station by
MPs who asked what unit he was with. He told them that he wasn't allowed to tell them, so I think he may have
provided a contact telephone number.
When he returned to his family in Hampshire, his dad saw the revolver and said, "you must be doing something
special lad". "yeah" he replied , "but I'm not allowed to tell you".
They taught specially hand picked Civilian Home Guard members the use of weapons
The Auxiliary Units used a variety of explosives:- Nobel 808 (Dynamite), Plastic explosive with time pencils and
Molotov cocktails (as the crimped metal caps became rusty, these Molotov cocktails were frequently
On one occasion Jack was teaching the Home Guard how to use a Sten-gun. He had lined them up in a chalk pit and gave the order to fire at
their targets. One of the youngest happened to be nearest to Jack and on firing his weapon could not stop
it. With his runaway weapon still 'spitting out' bullets and still in his hands, turned to Jack. "Can't
stop it!" he shouted. Jack dived to the ground to escape the hail of bullets, which fortunately subsided. He
approached the young lad who was shivering with fright and calmly explained that next time he has a runaway weapon,
knock the magazine off!
The Auxiliary Units provide a lesson for Lord Lovat's
On one occasion, the Dorset and Wilts combined to test their new found
skills. The Operation was to take over the village of Blandford in Dorset which was defended by Lord Lovat
and his Commandos. The Auxiliary Units task was to sneak in and place big chalk crosses on strategic
buildings and structures to emulate planted bombs.
Chalk marks were put under the bridge, in the Post Office and the Commandos own
The Auxiliaries were completely successful and effectively destroyed the village without comprising themselves or
confronting the Commandos in any fighting.
Jack had the chance to explain to Lord Lovat how they were able to operate
without his Commandos realising. The Auxiliaries were not only dressed in black, but they also wore black
plimsolls which was contrary to what the Commandos wore.
Consequently the sound of their hobnail boots gave their positions away, and in
fact whilst they were running along the road, Jack and his comrades were running alongside them in a lower ditch
without them realising it!
As the threat of invasion passed, the Auxiliary Units were disbanded and Jack
was returned to the 4th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, Rye Harbour, Sussex.
A card of condolence sent by Auxilier Geoffrey Bradford who spent many SAS reunions together
Soon after, orders were posted, and those who served in Auxiliary Units were
asked to volunteer for the 1st Special Air Service.
The old Sgt Major shook hands with them, shed tears and wished them all good
luck. The lives of most of those who Jack and the others left behind were sadly taken during the months
From the 13 Auxiliary Units Scout section, 7 out of the 8 volunteers of the Wiltshire's were accepted into the
S.A.S. and within a week of returning to their various units, were on their way to Scotland.
An extract from Jack’s personal written account of Operation Howard,
… with particular reference to ex Auxilier Major ‘Dickie’ Bond who was
… On 6th April we were on the way back to Germany for the big push to
Oldenburg. Our jeeps had all been serviced and modified with extra fittings to carry our kit.
We were well back into Germany by the 10th April with ‘C’ Squadron and ‘B’
Troop of ‘B’ Squadron operating together, under the command of Major D. Bond. We formed into column and set
Within the first hour, the leading 3 jeeps carrying Lt.xxx, Sgt.xxx, Cpl.xxx
and 6 others were fired on by German snipers from the front windows of a detached house. Sgt.xxx was badly
wounded in the legs and all occupants of the 3 jeeps baled out into a dyke on the left hand side of the
A message was passed down to the O.C. Major Bond, who walked up the road
with his driver, a Czech-Jew who spoke 5 languages. They crawled into the dyke and both lifted their heads to
weigh up the situation. Both were killed – shot in the forehead by a sniper.
I was in the 4th jeep, front gunner with Lt.xxx driving. …
OUR THANKS GO TO DENIS BLANDFORD FOR
SUPPLYING US WITH THIS PERSONAL INFORMATION ON HIS FATHER.