Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Madron Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.

This page was last updated at 3:26pm on 28/4/14

Thank you for selecting information on the Madron Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Cornwall. The info below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina Hannaford.

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.

Madron is a village and parish 1 ½ miles North West of Penzance which the nearby Heamoor is now a suburb of.

 

From the very first meeting in Whitehall in July 1940 the Intelligence Officer for Devon and Cornwall (named Auxiliary Units SW Area) was Captain (later Major, then Colonel) J W Stuart Edmundson, an officer in the Royal Engineers. He liaised with the regular army and received supplies and equipment and formed all the Patrols. He was assisted by Lieutenant (later Captain) John “Jack” Dingley who became IO for Cornwall in 1943 though he may have assumed the roll before that.

In November 1943 Devon and Cornwall were separated and Edmundson was succeeded in Cornwall by Captain John Dingley and in Devon by Major W W “Bill” Harston who would remain in command until near stand down. At the end of Harston's command he would cover “No 4 Region” being the whole of the South West Peninsular and Wales.

The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.

After 1941 a “grouping” system was developed where some patrols within a demographic area would train together under more local command.

At Stand Down, Cornwall is registered as area 17. Madron is part of Group 1 along with St Levan and Trencrom. The Group Commander is Lieutenant W Reggie Sandow of Trencrom Patrol.

The Area Commander is Captain H W Abbiss of Truro. In January 1945 Captain Abbiss  was awarded the MBE ( Military Division).

Patrol Inaguration

Date currently unknown.

Gordon Bolitho in The Western Morning News 18/8/1998 states “A Captain [Lt] Sandow from Lelant sent someone around to ask if I would recruit people for a unit. I wasn't to tell anyone, not even my wife, so I recruited some of my home guard unit at Heamoor, all farmers like myself who knew the area.“

Patrol Members

Sergeant Gordon Bolitho of Heamoor
Bernard Trewern of Morvah a cousin of Lanyon Thomas
Thomas “Morley” White of Heamoor
William “Bill“ Eddy of Heamoor
Lanyon Thomas of Lanyon Farm
Fred Edward W Noy of Heamoor
Richard “Dick” Matthews of Heamoor. A JP and one time Mayor of Penzance in the 50's
                                                          
All were farmers.

   
Dick Matthews, Fred Noy & Morley White  William Eddy Gordon Bolitho

Lanyon Thomas in uniform outside Lanyon Farm.

Operational Bases

The OB was on moor land close to Lanyon Quoit a well known landmark on Burnt Down. The OB was on land farmed by Lanyon Thomas

THE OB REMAINS ARE ON PRIVATE LAND. 

Permission to excavate was given to Stuart Emmett and Gareth Wearne and the area has been thoroughly metal detected and excavated.

Though open mine shafts make the area dangerous to investigate, the area of the OB can be seen from the safety of a nearby public pathway.

Set within an area of heathland and open moorland the area has been mined for tin for hundreds of years.

The Patrol made use of one of the pits that had been excavated while the nearby Ding Dong Mine was open many years before.

The entrance shaft and block wall has been excavated and is mostly still intact. The main body of the OB can be seen as a large depression. It is suspected the Nissen structure was removed and used around the farm.

At the far end of the main body, the escape tunnel can be followed as a curved deep ditch. This opens out into another smaller depression and runs into the top of a tin mine.

 

Madron Auxiliary Unit Patrol 3

Remains of entrance shaft and wall of OB

There is a cement layer on top of the breeze block shaft and the hitches cut for the trap door and hinges can be seen.  

Madron Auxiliary Unit Patrol 4

Looking down the length of the OB towards the entrance shaft.

The main section was 24ft long by 12ft wide.

At the far end it then drops down and curves around into a second area by the shaft of approximately 12ft by 8ft.

Entrance to original mine shaft accessible from the escape tunnel via an adit.

The mine shaft adjacent to the base has been capped with large granite slabs, this is thought to have been done by the Auxiliers at the base as no other shaft has been capped in this entire area. This would make sense as it would have been their second egress and if cornered underground it could have been a better place to try and make a fight for survival

This level is only 16 ft below the surface.

Madron Auxiliary Unit Patrol 6

Mine adit leading underground from the escape tunnel.

It was thought that the patrol could have used these underground workings as a network for moving around the area and down the valley for escape but extensive exploration has shown this is unlikely due to blockages and being prone to flooding.

Observation Post: Currently unknown though on the highest land in the area both North and South coasts can be seen.

 Madron Auxiliary Unit Patrol 7  Madron Auxiliary Unit Patrol 8

Pre-excavation photos showing the work carried out by Stuart Emmett and Gareth Wearne.
Madron Auxiliary Unit 1

© Copyright Lyn Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Gordon Bolitho stated “we found a little bit of a pit out in the moors and dug it down and made a concrete living quarters. Access was by a trapdoor and the men climbed down a ladder “ The Cornishman.

Western Morning News 18/8/1998 “We all came out of the home guard and we were frowned on by some local people who did not know about the Auxiliary Unit and thought we were dodging our duties... I also got in trouble with Lord St Levan who was in charge of the local home guard and thought I was persuading men to leave the local detachment.... Captain Dingley who was in charge in Cornwall decided it was safe to let Lord St Levan know so we went to see him....we carried passes so if we were stopped by the police they were told not to question us and they were referred to a telephone number.

Every Sunday we would go up near Laynton Quiot and build our operational base at a place where there was already a hole. We built a Nissen hut below the ground strengthened with concrete blocks. The entrance was hidden and you had to climb down a ladder....After the war we told Lanyon Thomas that if he dug it up he could have the Nissen hut. He probably used it as a chicken hut on his farm.”

Patrol Targets

Their base is several miles from any real targets as the area is surrounded by wild moor land.

Mounts Bay itself would have been a major naval resupply area for the Germans, they could have anchored very large numbers of vessels up in a sheltered area carrying all sorts of stores.

Mounts Bay

Training

Gordon Bolitho went to Coleshill, “We were walking down a road and we were asked if we had noticed anything. We hadn't . We went back- there were dead leaves on the ground-and there was a bootlace with leaves stuck to it. You pulled it and up came a trap hatch. In another place at Highworth there was an area where trees had been felled. One of the stumps,it was discovered, could be opened....it was an entrance to another hiding place.”  From an article in the Cornishman.

Western Morning News 18/8/1998 ;”sometimes we would go over to the old granite quarries near Helston for training."

Weapons & Equipment

”Revolvers, sten-guns, rifles and enough explosives to blow up Penzance...also hand grenades with four-second fuses...knife...time pencils...push and pull switches “ Mr Gordon Bolitho
“Plastic explosives, Gelignite, Blasting gelignite, Nobels 808, Gun cotton, Ammonal, Cordex”. Dick Matthews Quotes from an article in the Cornishman.

It is assumed they also had access to the standard weapons and equipment.

Other Information

Margaret, the daughter of Lanyon Thomas had no idea of his comings and goings during the war but she did know about the bunker as she used to play in it at the end of the war. She remembers a single chamber with the bunk beds still in situ.

References

Stuart Emmett and Gareth Wearne for discovering and documenting the OB.
TNA ref WO199/3390
Alwyn Harvey research for Defence of Britain Project
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Denys Matthews son of Auxilier Dick Matthews.
Memories of Dick Matthews and Gordon Bolitho in an undated article in The Cornishman.
Memories of Gordon Bolitho in Western Morning News 18/8/1998
Research sent by Philip Hadley.

If you can help with any info please contact us.