Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Somerleyton / Fritton Lake Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.

This page was last updated 20/11/13

Thank you for selecting information on the  Somerleyton / Fritton Lake Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Norfolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.

We found two names for this patrol: Fritton Lake Patrol and Somerleyton Patrol. Research is ongoing in order to establish the name of this patrol which was one of the Norfolk/Suffolk cross-border patrols, with members from both counties.

The patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 9 which also included
Fritton St Olaves patrol and possibly Oulton patrol

CO Lt Wm W Ward, Fritton Old Hall (Fritton, Great Yarmouth)
Sgt EW Longfield, Blocka Hall (Lowestoft)

It is currently unknown when the patrol was formed.

Sgt Russel Robert “Rusty” Leech, Lowestoft
Pte Sydney Clement Arthur Fuller
Wm John Thomas Dolder, Pond Farm, Herringfleet?
Donald Thomas Colebrook (electrician at Brook marina, Lowestoft) Mutford
Sydney Porter
Pte Brian G Rudd
Pte RJ Botwright (gent’s hairdresser, Theatre Plain, Great Yarmouth)

Unconfirmed: L/cpl BG Bond

Also listed in the stand down address lists is CJ Cooper, The Post Office, St Olaves. (Ref: Robert Jarvis, “Fortress Lowestoft”, 2002)

The OB is situated on private land! Unauthorised access may result in prosecution

CART obtained access by kind permission of the owner.

We first heard about the existence of two OBs in the Fritton Lake area when helping friends with researching structures found on the site of a WWII military training camp in Waveney Forest, a woodland to the north of Fritton Lake. The finds included a fairly deep crater-shaped depression in the ground, with galvanised netting stuffed into some of the cavities, ends of angle-iron posts sticking out of the ground above, and a length of field pipe lying beside it. It occurred to us that it very much resembled sites of collapsed OBs. Further investigations brought to light that indeed there used to be two, perhaps three, Aux patrols who operated in the area. Conversations with local historian Jack Grice lead to names and to old photographs, and finally to two OBs.

Although the location of the OB is located in Suffolk the patrol formed part of Norfolk Group 9, one of the Norfolk/Suffolk border patrols with members from both counties.

Somerleyton Auxiliary Unit 1

Size of the main chamber is approximately 4.90 x 2.75m with an adjoining chamber (collapsed) of approximately the same dimensions it is orientated: E/W -- 6.7m ASL

The main entrance opening (below) is 1.60m x 0.90m with a 3.50m deep drop-down shaft lined with corrugated iron sheets. The Length of the emergency escape tunnel is approximately 8 metres.

 Somerleyton Auxiliary Unit 2

The OB was dug about 3.50 deep into level ground in mature woodland and is in good condition. It was accessed via a wooden ladder (deteriorated) in a drop-down shaft, the earthen walls of which are lined with corrugated iron sheets.

Somerleyton Auxiliary Unit 6

The entrance cover (no longer in place) was opened by using a counterweight that has since fallen to the bottom of the shaft, where we found it under a deep cover of leaves. (above)

The counterweight is a large rectangular piece of concrete, pitched, with a length of gas pipe through one end used as pivots.

Somerleyton Auxiliary Unit 4

Somerleyton Auxiliary Unit 3

Both end walls are lined with corrugated sheets that are painted quite a bright hue of white and held in place by a frame of sturdy wooden posts. Vent openings with ceramic pipes still in them can be seen on each side of the wall nearest the entrance.

Vent holes can also be observed in the opposite wall, the pipes, however, appear to have been dislodged when the adjoining chamber collapsed.

Above ground a clearly discernible depression marks the location of a 2nd chamber and of the emergency exit (both collapsed) which ran in a straight line for about 8 metres. A number of short sections of corrugated sheets can be seen at its end, where the opening would have been.
The collapse of the adjoining 2nd chamber has resulted in the far wall having become convex and some of the supporting posts are damaged. The doorway into the 2nd chamber is blocked by crumpled sections of corrugated sheets.

The curved corrugated iron roof of the main chamber is resting on concrete plinths that appear to have been painted off-white.

At the far end, the ground has been heightened to form a platform that is level with the top of the plinths. We were unable to establish why.

Somerleyton Auxiliary Unit 5

The main chamber contains four sleeping platforms, placed on their sides and resting against the curved wall. (Above) These ‘bunks’ measure 2.50m in length (approx) and were constructed from pine bearers with roughly cut slats across. The upwards-facing side of the slats is covered with what appears to be roofing felt, presumably to protect from rising dampness. These contraptions would have been laid across the width of the main chamber, resting on the plinths when in use.

Somerleyton Auxiliary Unit 7

 

Other physical remains found were an old glass bottle (pre-war type stopper that opens with a twist). 4 wooden bunks and a concrete counterweight. Vent pipes (2 of 4 in situ).

A small red triangle is painted higher up on the wall. Who painted it and why we do not know.

 

Observation Post/s:  Said to have had an observation post nearby. If so, there is no trace of it now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently unknown

 Currently unknown

 Currently unknown

According to David Leech (son of Sgt Russel Robert Leech), his father told him that the OB used to have a chimney that was hidden inside a ‘planted’ hollow tree trunk. We found no opening in the roof that would indicate the presence of a chimney. David Leech was never taken to his father’s OB and an attempt to find it, undertaken many years later by his uncle, Billy Leech, failed. Billy Leech - he was a member of the neighbouring patrol, also in Norfolk Group 9 - told Jack Grice that occasionally Capt Ward took them to the OB but this was always done at night.


Jack Grice (personal interviews); R Jarvis “Fortress Lowestoft”, 2002; Stephen Lewins, CART CIO Northumberland

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