St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol
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Thank you for selecting information on the St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit
Patrol and Operational Base. The information below has been supplied by our 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
St Keyne is a small parish on the main road between Liskeard and Looe.
From the very first meeting in Whitehall on July 1940 the Intelligence Officer for Devon and Cornwall (named
Auxiliary Units SW Area) was Captain (later Major) 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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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. St Keyne was part of group 6 along with Morval (Looe), Launceston, Liskeard, St Germans,
Pelynt, Lansallos, Menheniot, St Juliot, Coads Green and Bridgerule (now in Devon). They were under the group
command of Captain G H Sergeant from Liskeard along with Lieutenant W Crichton (discharged May 1944 due to ill
health) and 2nd Lieutenant J F William Mewton.
Captain G H Sergeant from Liskeard was also the area Commander for this and group 5.
Sergeant Ernest J Saunders, a farmer.
William H Wilton
Stephen A Rawlings
R E Brown
Reginald N J Crabb who was transferred to 6th Battalion Home Guard in May 1943.
The picture above was kindly supplied by John Jolliff (the son of Joe Northcott from Pelynt Patrol)
It is thought to show the Cornwall Group 6 patrols which consisted of St Keyne, Morval, Menheniot, St Germans,
Pelynt, Lansallos, Liskeard,St Juliot, Coads Green, Launceston and Bridgerule.
Back row far left: Reg Wakeham (Pelynt), Joe Northcott (Pelynt) rest unknown
Middle row far left: Ned Broad (Pelynt) rest unknown
Front row far left : Ralph Webber (Pelynt), Charlie Barrett ( Liskeard), unknown, unknown, Sgt.Jack Bickford, rest
The Defence of Britain database records that St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol built their own bunker in Trussel
Wood. The operational base is now just a hole deep in the wood, but its shape and entrance and exit tunnels are
still clearly visible.
Size of OB and entrance/exit etc:
The operational base measured approximately 12ft x 20ft and was 8.5ft in height. The main bunker room was
constructed from corrugated sheeting with timber on top.
The entrance tunnel was straight and measured about 14ft in length. The exit tunnel was curved, about 15ft in
length, with a spur running off about half way along its length. Explosives were stored in the exit tunnel. Both tunnels were accessed
through well camouflaged 4ft square trap doors. These doors were built with timber, carried soil and turf on top
which was covered in wire netting.
Ventilation pipes made from 4ins salt glazed pipes were fitted in the roof of the bunker at 6ft intervals and
were also covered in wire netting and moss.
A fireplace was built in the bunker, constructed with a wrought iron surround, a corrugated iron chimney and a
fire grate. All three items can still be seen at the site. The chimney went out through a hollow tree.
Bunks were made from timber frames covered in diamond-shaped expanded metal netting. The bunker could sleep up to
seven members of the patrol.
Looking towards Liskeard from the area of the OB
Observation Post: St. Keyne Auxiliary Unit Patrol built an observation lookout post in a field
hedgerow on high ground about half a mile N of St. Keyne village and about 100 yards South of their operational
The two structures were linked by a field telephone. It was about 4ft square and 8ft deep, dug into the ground
and well camouflaged.
Other physical remains nearby: Site of Second World War rifle range near Trussel used by the
Home Guard, Auxiliary Unit, and the United States Army is recorded on Defence of Britain database. It is currently
unknown if there if there are any remains.
A plan of the OB and photographs are currently held at English Heritage, Swindon.
An assumed target would be St Keyne “Wishing Well Halt” railway station on the Looe Valley train line.
Unknown but it is assumed they had access to the normal weapons and equipment seen here.
TNA ref WO199/3391
Alwyn Harvey recorder for Defence of Britain Database.
Hancock data held by B. R. A
1939 Kellys Directory
If you can help with any info please