Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Jack Blandford - Wiltshire Scout Patrol (East Dorset)

Information kindly provided by his son Denis Blandford

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Jack Blandford

Enlisted into The Wiltshire Regiment

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!

 

wilts02jack_blandford-webOne 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 track.

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 Units

Joining Auxiliary Units Wiltshire Patrol East Dorset, 1942-1943

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 exposed metal.
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 them.
 
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 and explosives.
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 destroyed).

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!

Jack Blandford and his patrol

The Auxiliary Units provide a lesson for Lord Lovat's Commandos

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 HQ.
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.

Jack Blandford RIP card

A card of condolence sent by Auxilier Geoffrey Bradford who spent many SAS reunions together with Jack.

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 following D-Day. 
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.

Dorset Auxiliary

An extract from Jack’s personal written account of Operation Howard, April 1945.
… with particular reference to ex Auxilier Major ‘Dickie’ Bond who was O.C.

… 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 off.

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 road. 

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.