Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Southwick Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page last updated on 6/6/17

Patrol codename: St George or No.4

Original report by Steve Mason. Major rewrite by Dr Will Ward in June 2017. If you can help with any info please contact us hq@coleshillhouse.com

The patrol appears to have been formed in October 1942. It was part of Group 5, along with patrols in Bishops Waltham, Droxford, Soberton and Newtown.

Name Date of Birth Occupation
Died
Sgt. George James Gatrall 03/07/1911 Joiner
1994
Cpl. Leonard Harry J Stubbington  26/04/1902 Retail Fruiterer
1978
Pte. Percival William Crook 30/06/1910 Cowman 
1985
Pte. Horace Roy Crook 12/06/1915  Market Gardener
2000
Pte. John Henry Francis  02/12/1906 Carpenter and Joiner

Pte. Charles Alfred J Vince  5/12/1900 Grocer 
1956
Pte. Ronald W Copping 17/2/1914 Builders labourer Transferred to Home Guard May 1943 1999
Pte. Horace George Ferguson 28/11/1920
Transferred from Newtown patrol 1943 2012

We are very fortunate to have the remains of the Southwick patrol Diary to tell us about their activities. This is held in the Hampshire Record Office at Winchester, where it was rediscovered by researcher Alan Watson. The patrol diary was reportedly found in Birmingham by Kyle Whitall and was passed to Hampshire County Record Office via Gosport Museum. CART has no information about where or when it was found, but it appears to be an official unit diary as each entry is counter-signed by the responsible Lieutenant and section leader. Sadly, the majority of the pages have been cut or torn out for an unknown reason leaving just 32 pages (entries are from: October 1942, 1st to 21st; August 1943; 24th Oct '43 to 20th Jan '44; and 18th to 28th February '44; with the final entry of 12th March '44; all subsequent pages are removed). The entries mention training, establishment of OBs/OPs (no exact locations), No.5 Group patrol competition in preparation for County and then national competitions, meetings of patrol leaders (no names or itineraries), and day and night exercises.

The patrol members were quite widely dispersed, with a couple in Copnor and one in Wickham. Only the Crooks were from Southwick itself. George Gatrall was a Leading man of joiners at HM Dockyard, Portsmouth. Sgt Gatrall was called up at the start of December 1942, but was back with his patrol by December 11th, with his call up deferred due to his Aux Units service. In common with other men who were called up his ID card number changed from EBIB 272/1 to EBA-1226175. It didn't change back even if the all up was deferred.

Ron Copping married Majorie J Crook, Horace's sister, in early 1942. He was removed from the patrol due to non-attendance in May 1943 and replaced with Ferguson who was drafted in from Newton patrol. According to the nominal roll Copping was discharged to Fareham Battalion [Home Guard].

Charles Vince had joined the Royal Marines as a 17 year old grocers boy in July 1918. It seems he was invalided out in March 1919. The record says he was 5ft 6 1/2 inches tall. In 1922, Charles Vince married Elsie Lydia Stubbington, suggesting he may have been related to Leonard Stubbington. Leonard had been in the Merchant Navy until 1925.

Group photo of No.5 Group personnel. This photo very probably contains the Southwick men but we do not yet know who they are. (Photo: Mark Horn)

According to Elliott Cowton (resident of Porchester) who knew Mr Gatrall, the OB was in the grounds of Southwick Priory, "Over the wall", north of Southwick - the presence of various ponds mean it was most likely in the wooded areas. Other sources reported to researcher Rob Mills suggested that it had been under the Scout hut (old village hall) or alternatively in the small copse where the main road roundabout now stands. Despite its precise location being uncertain, we know a fair bit about the operational base.

The Southwick Patrol diary reports that the Patrol had both an OB and underground ammo dump.

The OB was taken over on the 15th November 1942 from Hampshire Scout Section who had built the basic structure. The patrol added a wooden floor and corked the corrugated iron which had proved to sweat a great deal. This suggests the OB was a standard elephant shelter. There was a paraffin heater and hammocks for sleeping. The patrol had to build an effective entrance hatch and disguise. After an inspection by Lt Welch, they were asked to do away with the exit door and to make a tunnel exit door away from the entrance. Building the new escape hatch took 22 hours over 3 days to complete. The only other clue is that one entry records shooting practice in a chalk pit by the OB.

The ammo dump was dug by the men themselves in April 1943. Its construction was delayed when the men hit solid clay, but completed in the end. It was large enough to comfortably fit a man inside and was fitted with shelves and a camouflaged entrance lid.

Observation Post/s: Currently unknown.

The main NE-SE road from the road hub at Wickham to Cosham where the arterial A3 ran north from/to Portsmouth. Wickham had the A32 arterial road running north to Bishops Waltham and Corehampton in the north of the area, and south to Fareham and the dock at Gosport. The Southwick Patrol would also have been well placed to interdict the myriad of the minor roads through its zone, should a German landing occur in Portsmouth harbour and attempts be made to advance north behind Portsdown hill inland. Another task, later in the war, may have been to patrol the grounds of Southwick House, which became the command HQ for the highest D-Day planning officers.

The diary lists several locations with the type of training conducted.

• Baddesley (Bombing training)
• Chalkpit on Portsdown hills (preparation for No.5 Group patrol competition),
• Hipley Copse (Explosives training),
• Hole Farm (Explosives training),
• Rookesbury Hall, Newton (Unarmed combat)
• Soberton Chalkpit (Weapons practice)

Exercise locations:
• Ashlands Corner
• Broad Halfpenny Downs (Hambledon)
• Chandlers ford
• Dean Farm (county patrol competition)
• GHQ Swindon (for Sgt’s course)
• Glenville woods (Hambledon)
• Goat House Hill (Newtown)
• Hoe Gate, Shoot hill (Newtown)
• Southwick chalkpit
• Wallops wood
• Wickham.

They received training from the Worcester Regiment Scout Section including its commander Lt Allan. This included a demonstration at Hambledon..

The Diary records the men going to Hillcrest, the house of Lt Welch, for training in drill and other activities.

The patrol diary records that each man was issued with a revolver with 36 rounds. Stubbington and Copping also received a rifle with 50 rounds, most likely a .300 service rifle imported from the USA. In December 1942 the patrol was given a .22 rifle with telescopic sights and 200 rounds, followed a month later by 4 Sten guns with 300 rounds each. Previously shooting with the Thompson sub machine gun was mentioned, though it isn't recorded if this weapon was withdrawn when the Stens were supplied. Each man had a knife, and the patrol had a couple of knuckledusters.

The patrol also had the usual issues of explosives and associated stores. Blasting Gelignite and Plastic Explosive were specifically mentioned, along with Mills bombs, AW Phosphorus bombs and Sticky bombs. Fuses included Bickford, Cordtex, Orange line and Primacord initiated by Time Pencils, L Delays or Pressure or pull switches. On one occasion blasting gelignite was disposed of by burning as it was becoming unstable.

Other Locations:

The patrol diary outlines another location known, at least to the patrol leader: Hill Forest, Newtown (near Wickham).

Southwick Auxiliary Diary: image of the front cover. Photo: Nick Saunders.

Southwick Patrol Diary, held at the Hampshire Records Office, Winchester.
Elliott Cowton, resident of Fareham.
WO199/3333 Auxiliary Hampshire Nominal Roll
David Seaton
1939 Register
Ancestry.co.uk

If you can help with any info please contact us hq@coleshillhouse.com