Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol and Operational Base.
Thank you for selecting information on the Trencrom Auxiliary Unit Patrol
and their Operational Base in Cornwall. The info below have been supplied by CART's Devon CIO, Nina
This page last updated at 8:05am on
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
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The IOs were being withdrawn from around August 1944 leaving the Area and Group Commanders.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. Trencrom is part of Group 1 along with Madron and St Levan.
The Group Commander is Lieutenant W R Sandow of Trencrom Patrol.
The Area Commander is Captain H W Abbiss of Truro. In January 1945 Captain Abbiss was awarded the MBE (
Currently unknown, but as Reggie Sandow was known to have recruited other
Auxiliers in group 1 it is assumed that Trencrom was the first patrol to be formed in that group.
Original Sergeant William “Reggie” Sandow, a dairyman. He became 2nd Lieutenant in Nov 1942 and Lieutenant in
Feb 1943 as a Group Commander.
Sergeant Henry Rowe, being a smallholder, the OB was on his farmland.
Edwin Sandow who was Reggie's brother and living on the family farm next to the OB.
Richard “Dickie” Lawr(e)y
Richard Henry “ Dick” Uren
William Pooley who's name is entered twice on the Nominal Roll, the first being crossed out. He is transferred to
14th (Hayle) Battalion Home Guard in Feb 1943
T Edwards who is discharged and called to H M Forces.
The OB was built within Wheal Merth Mine situated between Lelant
Downs and Heather Lane at Gorran.
In an article in The Cornishman newspaper (undated but thought to be mid 1980s) the OB is described as :
“Operational base was in an adit of an abandoned tin mine high
up on Lelant Downs. They would crawl into a small tunnel in the hillside near Carntisco and use a simple bridge
made up from a couple of planks of wood. They then had to cross one of the shafts of Wheal Merth mine. A slip
would have sent them plunging 500/600ft to the bottom of the flooded shaft. Once inside they pulled the bridge
back with them inside”
After the war it was destroyed within the confines of Wheal
Merth Mine. Built within the old stope (the excavated area of a mine produced during the extraction of
ore) some remains were blown into the adit (a level tunnel giving access to a mine and usually used for drainage
or extraction of broken ore etc). The Nissen hut structure within the mine was covered with concrete and
Size of OB and entrance/exit etc: Currently
unknown entrance into the actual OB but both the shaft and the adit (today) are a tight squeeze for an adult man
especially if carrying kit.
Observation Post: Currently unknown
The opening into the mine adit.
Remains of the Nissen structure of the OB which was
blasted into the adit when the OB was demolished.
A pile of old boots found in the
A old wooden lintel supporting tons of rock above.
The way in towards the OB was under this.
The concrete ceiling of the OB. Built within
the old stope (the excavated area of the mine produced during the extraction of tin) the Nissen structure was
covered with concrete and soil.
Looking up into OB. Note the granite lintel that
would have supported the floor. This is horizontal.
One of the bed frames wedged up against the ceiling
after the blast of demolition.
Looking up into the blocked access to the OB. The
stone in the middle is the only thing holding back tons of mining refuse of broken rock.
All photographs above used with kind permission
of KH from www.mine-explorer.co.uk
Looking down the vertical mine shaft
A complete set of pictures of the whole mine system can be seen
A Starfish QL site had been constructed at the Towans (sand dunes) at nearby Hayle. These elaborate hoax lights
would simulate night effects of the town and harbour. The sites were built to mislead enemy aircraft into bombing
the decoy site rather than the nearby town. The presence of this proves Hayle was strategically important and so
suspected targets for the patrol would include the viaduct at Foundry and the harbour.
Currently unknown but it is assumed they had access to the standard weapons and equipment.
Ammunition and supplies were dropped near the mine by an army lorry and stored in chambers ¼ of a mile into the
hillside and under 300ft of rock.
In his memoirs, Stuart Edmundson, the original IO recalls : “Down in West Cornwall there was no great problem
[with OBs] as many of the men I had recruited there were, or had been, tin miners. That part of the world is
completely honeycombed by old workings and some of these chaps were able to go from coast to coast in Cornwall
through these old workings without coming to the surface.
It was a terrifying experience going down with them as water was dripping through everywhere. The passages of
cause were totally dark and we only had the light of a candle or a torch and had to jump over shafts going down
lower, at the bottom of which you could hear water running.
These men were particularly tough and mad keen to get their hands on a German.
Alwyn Harvey's research carried out for Defence Of Britain Project
Hancock data held at B. R. A
TNA ref WO199/3390
KH from www.mine-explorer.co.uk
Memoirs of Edmundson, copies held at B.R.A
Information from Denys Matthews, son of Auxilier Dick Matthews of Madron
patrol and an undated article in The Cornishman newspaper.
If you can help with any info please contact