Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Wenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol

This page was last updated at 5:30pm on 1/1/16

Thank you for selecting information on the Wenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol and their Operational Base in Suffolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye and our internal archive.

The patrol is also referred to as Capel St Mary Patrol but everybody involved knew it as Wenham Patrol.

It formed part of Ipswich Group (Group No 5 Suffolk) which also included

Ipswich I Patrol, Ipswich II Patrol, Bentley Patrol, Copdock aka Belstead Patrol, East Bergholt Patrol
Sproughton aka Burstall Patrol, Hintlesham and Raydon aka Stratford St Mary Patrol

CO Capt EG Pawsey, Ipswich
2nd Lt HE Mellor, Ipswich
2nd Lt CH Procter, Ipswich – promoted to Capt and transferred to Beccles Group

1940 - the patrols south of Woodbridge are believed to have been the first in Suffolk to have been set up by Intelligence Officer Captain Andrew Croft.

Wenham Auxiliary Unit Patrol 15 Oct 1944

L to R: Pte Len C Wyartt – Sgt PJ Jack Chaplin – Cpl Charles A Coe – Pte Bill Church

Sgt PJ “Jack” Chaplin
Charles Goddard (left Aux in 1943 to join Royal Navy)  *
Charles A Coe
TW “Bill” Church  TXKH 236/3
Len C Wyartt
Walter Pittock  TXKH 249/3 (transferred out)
Derek Youngs  TXKC 93/2

Derek Youngs taken on the 2nd Sept 1997 from East Anglian Daily Times. Len Wyartt taken on 2nd Sept 1997 from East Anglian Daily Times.

Ipswich Group 5 Patrols

The image above shows the Ipswich Group 5 patrols which consisted of:- Ipswich I and II Capel St Mary/Wenham, Raydon/Stratford St Mary, East Bergholt, Sproughton, Hintlesham, Copdock and Bentley.

rear L - R 6th from left is a member of Copdock patrol as is 8th and 9th from left. 10th left is Pte. Len C Wyratt (Wenham) 11th left is Pte. Charlie Goodchild (East Bergholt) and the last man is Cpl Reg Airey (Copdock)

Second rear L - R 10th from left is Pte Bill Church (Wenham) and 11th is Pte Billie Smith (East Bergholt)

Middle or third row 2nd left is Ipswich II member as is 4th from left. 10th from left is Cpl Charles A Coe (Wenham) and 11th left is Cpl Ray Abbott (East Bergholt)

Second row 1st left Sgt W R Beaumont (Sproughton) 2nd Sgt Neville Palmer (Ipswich II) 3rd is Sgt Rex Milner-Moore (Hintlesham) 4th is L E Hudson (Ipswich I) 5th is Captain John Anderton Group 2 I/C 6th is Lt Eric Pawsey Group 2I/C 7th is Lt.Cecil James Procter 8th Sgt Horace Clements (Copdock) 9th is Sgt Peter Hutton (Bentley) 10th is Sgt PJ "Jack" Chaplin (Wenham) 11th is Sgt R Neville Devonshire (East Bergholt) 12th is Sgt Dennis Johnson (Raydon/Stratford St Mary)
front row kneeling 1st left may be a Copdock member 3rd is Pte Charlie Ambrose (East Bergholt) and 4th is Pte Bill Miller (East Bergholt)

Mellor and Pawsey were promoted to Captains and 2Lt. C J Proctor who had been Group 2 I/c left and was replaced by John Anderton. The names above have been supplied by Stephen Lewins.

Wenham OB Site

Wenham OB (6)

Wenham OB site

According to a report held at the BRO Museum at Parham, the OB was situated between Jermyns Farm and Grove Farm.  It is described as having been removed, with “only a hollow in wood and the remains of a tin-sheet lined entrance remaining in situ”.  No mention is being made of another structure nearby which in all probability was the patrol’s ammo store.

According to patrol member Charles Goddard (in: The Book of Capel), the structure consisted of two chambers and had a toilet.  It was connected to the patrol’s headquarters at Jermyns Farm via field telephone.
 
According to the account given to us by George Goodchild - his father owned Grove Farm – the structure served as Wenham patrol’s OB.  It had a flat roof constructed with corrugated sheeting, and a wooden entrance shaft. Mr Goodchild also remembers that the OB had a chimney. It was situated in a spinney locally known as Sand Pit Wood, across the field, to the north-west of Jermyns Farm.  It was partially destroyed after the war but he dug it out with the help of his brother and made it usable again. Only a depression and a handful of items which might have originated from the OB remain on site: a discarded old pot; the shard of a flu pipe; sections of angle iron; pieces of corrugated sheeting; part of a railway sleeper.

John Ratford (son of Sgt Bill Ratford of Bentley Patrol) accessed the OB just after the war. He can't remember much but what stuck in his memory was the ring near a tree stump that you pulled and the hatch swivelled open. Part came up and part went down, pivoting in the centre. He describes the OB as having been about 8ft square with a flat top roof and walls that were lined with corrugated sheeting. An ammo dump was about 40 -50 yards further west and was of similar design and proportions.  A small crater-like depression is all that remains.

Wenham ammo dump site

Wenham ammo store site

Observation Post: none (as far as we know)

Wenham ammo dump site

Old aluminium tea pot found at Wenham ammo store site

Other physical remains nearby: Discarded old pot; broken flu pipe; corrugated sheeting; angle iron, part of railway sleeper; corroded steel ring (appears to have come from a milk churn)

Ipswich Group Headquarters OB:

The reinforced underground structure serving as group headquarters (secure meeting place for members of all patrols in this group) is still in situ - currently underneath a paved patio on the north side of Jermyn’s Farmhouse. It was accessed by kind permission of the owner.

Entrance opening: approx. 1 x 1 metre;

Entrance shaft: approx 2.20m deep;

Floor area of chamber without recesses: 3.40L x 2.40W x 2m high;

Recess on each side of entrance shaft: 1m deep x 0.50m wide.

Orientation: SW / NE

The purpose-built structure which served as Group Headquarters - situated beneath the patio of Jermyns Farmhouse - is recorded as an Auxiliary Units operational base by both the BRO Museum in Parham and DoB. The building materials used are given on DoB as having been clay brick and corrugated iron (Will Ward 1996).  No mention is being made of the remains of the nearby ammo store or of the patrol’s operational base.

Jermyns Farmhouse (1)

In the 1940s, both Jermyns and Grove Farms (as well as all surrounding land) were owned by the Wenham Estate. Tom Church, father of patrol member Bill Church, was the tenant of Jermyns Farm as well as of Castle Farm in Little Wenham, where the family lived.  Jack Hammond, one of Mr Church’s farm workers, lived in Jermyns Farmhouse.   Neighbouring Grove Farm was tenanted Mr Goodchild who had several relatives who were members of other AU patrols in Ipswich Group.  
  
The underground structure used as the group’s “headquarters”, as member Charles Goddard calls it, was dug immediately below the farmhouse’s north wall in what at the time would in all probability have been a garden.  A similar safe meeting place is known to have existed in cellar at Inland Pastures Farm in Scremerston near Berwick (Northumberland). It has since been destroyed and a conservatory was built over it. (Info: Stephen Lewins).

Jermyns farmhouse HQ drawing

The structure was accessed through a drop-down shaft built from red brick and concrete.  The shaft was built within the main chamber, at its SW wall, creating two recesses of approx 1m depth and 50 cm width to each side of it. We believe that the entrance, or rather the top half of it, was deliberately designed to look like a manhole. Pictures taken in around 1995 by patrol member Charles Goddard (published in The Book of Capel) show that the approx 50 cm deep manhole had a concrete floor of about 10+ cm thickness that was reinforced with an RSJ each at the exterior and interior ends.  This floor has since been removed, presumably for easier access.  One of the RSJs, still half-embedded in concrete, is currently lying near the far corner of the chamber, the edge of the other can be seen embedded in the wall of the shaft. 

We think that the actual entrance into the chamber was through the 0.60 x 1m gap between the ceiling and the manhole’s floor and that the gap would have been secured with a hinged lid.  We failed, however, to find any traces of such a lid.  Steps (presumably removable) would have lead down into the chamber from there.

Jermyns Farmhouse (5)

Viewed from the interior, the construction forming the bottom half of the entrance shaft looks like a concrete cupboard, about 1m deep, 1m wide and 1.40m high, with a concrete top – the manhole’s floor.  Badly deteriorated wooden boards are still adhering to its sidewalls, affixed to the concrete with bolts. The boards are the same length as the ‘cupboard’ is high, ending about 15 cm above the concrete top (the manhole’s floor).  They might have formed part of wooden steps leading down into the chamber.

A sump is in one corner of the shaft’s concrete floor.

The main chamber measures 2.40 x 3.40m.  Its flat concrete roof is supported by three 6”x6” RSJs which are joined with vertically placed RSJs used for reinforcing the walls.  The roof and some sections of the sidewalls were shuttered using 3-inch profile corrugated sheeting. 

The floor is concrete. Two short sections of railway sleepers, each about 40 cm long and approx 1.60m apart, can be seen embedded in the concrete floor near the entrance.  What purpose they served is unclear.

The chamber is approx 2m high.  The red-brick walls are reinforced by sections of RSJs, embedded in an approx 10 cm thick layer of concrete up to a height of about 1.65m.  The brick walls extending above this height are exposed.  Because of the greater thickness of the reinforced lower sections of wall, a roughly 10 cm wide shelf was created, providing ample storage room. This shelf runs along the whole length of three of the walls.  The wall accommodating the entrance shaft and a recess on each side of it does not have a shelf   Walls and ceiling are painted white and were probably repainted at some later time. 

The remains of a sink, backed with white tiles, can be seen in the NE corner, and what appears to be a mains water pipe (with tap missing) can be seen partially embedded in concrete on the wall above it.  Presumably the pipe was connected to the water mains in the farmhouse. 

Remains of what appears to have been a wooden shelf can be seen beside the sink, affixed to the rear (east) wall.

A large (30 x 20 cm) rectangular chute-like opening in the south wall (nearest the farmhouse) just below the ceiling appears to have served as a vent.

As far as can be established, after several alterations both to house and garden, the structure was not covered by soil and to the casual observer would have appeared to be a small concreted-over area with a manhole set into it.  It may originally have been covered by a cold frame or similar.

Considering that it was built 70 years ago, the structure is in very good condition and well protected by the paved patio above, with a new steel lid securing the entrance shaft.  Electricity was installed in recent times and water accumulating on the floor is being pumped out at regular intervals. The steel elements reinforcing roof and walls have accumulated a layer of rust, as can be expected to happen over time.  The wooden boards affixed to the sidewalls of the entrance shaft are badly deteriorated.

A first-hand account, given by patrol member Charles Goddard, is published in The Book of Capel:

“I joined the Home Guard (the old LDV) in 1941 … after a year or so I joined the 202.  This was a squad of younger, fit men, most of whom were in reserved occupations.  They were highly trained in the use of explosives, training involving blowing up of tree stumps etc.  We were also well armed.  I had a revolver and a Tommy gun.  The explosives were stored in a very well camouflaged dugout between Grove Farm and Jermyn’s Farm… our headquarters was in a reinforced cellar beneath Jermyn’s Farmhouse.  This was linked by landline to the other bunker.  The bunker at Jermyn’s Farm still exists, although after large alterations to the house, most of it is now under a patio outside.”   Charles Goddard in: The Book of Capel, p 108

Interestingly, patrol members appear to have been in fairly close contact with neighbouring Bentley Patrol, who reportedly dug their “headquarters”, a safe meeting place for members of all patrols.

“We knew the Wenham group had their dugout at Jermyn’s Farm and I know Charlie Coe and Charlie Goddard were in it.”  Gerald Sporle (member of Bentley Patrol) in: The Book of Capel, p 115

“We were the ones who dug the dugout for Wenham group, right under one of the rooms at Jermyn’s Farm.” William “Bill” Sage Ratford (leader of Bentley Patrol before he transferred out) in: The Book of Capel, p 161-163

Seemingly they also helped digging the patrol’s OB and ammunition store, located in Sand Pit Wood, because John Ratford, son of Bentley Patrol leader Sgt William “Bill” Sage Ratford, who is also related to the Goodchilds of Grove Farm, knew the location well enough and took him to the structure after the war.

Raydon aerodrome, L&NER railway line and bridges in the vicinity


 
Highly trained in the use of explosives, training involving blowing up of tree stumps etc.  

Tommy guns and revolvers

Currently unknown

Charles Goddard in: Book of Capel, ed. R Pearce (published by Capel Parish Council, 1995); Duncan Anderson, Capel St Mary; Dr G Clancy (telephone intertiew); George Goodchild, Capel (personal interview); John Ratford (son of Sgt Bill Ratford of Bentley Patrol); AM Johnson, Holton St Mary (pers interview); Michael Anderton, Bentley (pers interview); BROM Parham; Will Ward (DoB 1996); Stephen Lewins CART CIO Northumberland

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