Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Long Bredy Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 3:09pm on 17/11/12

Thank you for selecting information on the Long Bredy Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base. This patrol report was provided by CART CIO for Dorset Dr. Will Ward.

Research into this patrol and its training is ongoing. The information below is published from various sources and is by no means conclusive. If information is not listed below it does not necessarily mean the information is not out there but normally means CART researchers have not found it yet.

If you have any information on this patrol or can help with research in this area please do contact us.

Not currently known.

The patrol was probably formed in late 1940 or early 1941.

Name Date of Birth Occupation  . Died
Sgt. Robert James Foot       22/11/1908 Farmer Known as Bob 1983
Cpl Leslie Frank Sorrell 19/04/1922 Farm worker . 2012
Pte. William Salisbury 19/12/1923 Farm worker . .
Pte. Charles Henry Burt Pitcher 02/05/1916 Farm worker Worked for Bob Foot 1992
Pte. Benjamin Nathaniel Snoydon 06/03/1917 . . 2004

Robert Foot was a farmer whose extended family owned a number of farms in the area.

Leslie Sorrell   

 

 

Les Sorrell seen in his Home Guard uniform shortly before the patrol was formed.

 Bill Salisbury Bill Salisbury seen at the back of a photo of the Home Guard, prior to joining Aux Units.

Charlie Pitcher lived in the area his entire life. It appears that he joined the unit in April 1942, possibly when the OB moved closer to his home in Litton Cheney (see below). He worked on Robert Foot’s farm and was also well known for his ferreting skills.

Access to the OB was arranged by Mr Robin Pitcher through the landowner, Mr Robert Maltby. A field visit was made on 10/11/12. The OB is on private land.

Condition of OB: mostly collapsed

Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: minimum 18ft 2in x 7ft 2in

Other physical remains nearby: Some debris from collapse of the OB can be found further down the slope.

The patrol had two OBs. The first was built by the patrol itself in woods north of Little Bredy. Bill Salisbury recalls that Roly Fry and Dick Legg helped with this work, which may mean that they were patrol members at the time, though they do not appear in the nominal rolls. Bill recalls they carried away the chalk in coal sacks and dumped it in a ditch several miles away. When they got home they were covered in white chalk dust, but their families never asked why. This OB had to be abandoned when the Americans moved into the area and set up a large camp in the woods.

The second OB was built by regular troops brought in by their Group Commander. It was built in a sand quarry just north of Long Bredy. This quarry had supplied greensand to the Lott and Walne foundry in Dorchester, where it was used for making the moulds for their castings. The OB was built high in the side of the quarry and was a different design from that usually seen. While it was constructed using hollow concrete blocks, as commonly seen in OBs, it had a lean to style of corrugated iron roof, rather than a full curved Nissen hut shape. This allowed it to be a narrower OB than normal and presumably fit onto the face of the quarry. The greensand would have ensured excellent drainage preventing the OB from getting damp. Bill Salisbury recalls that this bunker was produced in a bit of a hurry. The Army dug it out and when it was finished blew greensand down over it by using explosives. Bill does not ever recall visiting this bunker. “Bob Foot, our Sgt never took us there”.

The OB was sealed at the end of the war, but sometime after, the quarry was worked by machine and one of the diggers knocked a hole through the side of the OB. Albert Pitcher, son of patrol member Charlie, remembers the bunker in this state as a schoolboy. This has caused the OB to subsequently collapse to its current state.

During the war, the immediate area was much more heavily wooded than is the case now, This would have provided cover for accessing the OB, most probably from one of the footpaths that cross the hill into which the quarry had been cut.

Charlie Pitcher by the OB

Charlie Pitcher, great grandson of the patrol member also named Charlie Pitcher, stands in an entrance to the second Long Bredy bunker. This is just over 2 feet wide and possibly represents the emergency escape exit. If so it would likely connected to a short tunnel and disguised flap door, or false cliff face. He is standing on what is estimated to be 3 to 4 feet of soil filling the remains of the OB. The area where the entrance shaft is thought likely to be, out of shot to the left of this picture, has been covered by a subsequent landslip. In the bottom right of the photo is part of a joining piece for pipes that may have formed part of the ventilation system.

Long Bredy Operational Base 1

Up against the back wall are the remains of what may be a wooden bunk. There is a vertical wooden post still in place and longer wooden timber with corroded fragments of chicken wire and finer wire mesh. Similar materials are seen forming bunks in other OBs.

Long Bredy Operational Base 2

A close up of the corner of the OB. Bricks have been used edge on to support the corrugated iron on the back wall of the OB, with more bricks used normally to create a gentle curve for the roof down to the front wall. The hollow concrete block laid on its side is seen in other OBs to provide access through the wall to ventilation pipes. None could be identified, though there is soft sand at the end of these, suggesting they may have been moved by erosion.

The patrol received the usual training in explosives. Charlie Pitcher recounted to his family how he had learnt to fell trees across the road to block them. He never mentioned going to Coleshill or Duntish Court.

The patrols in this area are spread along the sides of the A35, the main East-West route through Dorset, suggesting that this was a major target. It is also likely that large houses taken over by the Germans would also have formed targets. There were fewer obviously military targets in this rural part of Dorset.

Not known.

In common with a good number of Auxiliers in other parts of the country, the Long Bredy patrol were approached to see if they would be willing to be dropped behind enemy lines in France and carry out their sabotage activities there. They were later told that they were too valuable in their reserved occupations for this to have been progressed. It may be that there was confusion around the approach by the SAS to Auxiliary Units to recruit men for its expanding regiment.

Charles Pitcher King Letter

Charlie Pitcher also appeared in a couple of television pieces about his long life in the area. He never mentioned his Auxiliary Units service in these though!

National Archives WO 199/3390, 199/3391, 1911 Census, Interviews by John Pidgeon with patrol members Les Sorrell and Bill Salisbury, Additional information from Albert Pitcher, son of patrol member Charlie, and Albert’s son Robin Pitcher.