Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units

 

Wroxham Auxiliary Unit Scout Section

This page was last updated at 5:09pm on 9/1/12

Thank you for selecting information on the Wroxham Auxiliary Unit Scout Section and their Training Base in Norfolk. The info and images below have been supplied by Aux researchers Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.

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There were a dozen or so men in the patrol, including a Lance Corporal from Great Yarmouth, a clerk, and Capt Woodward’s driver, Mr Curtain. All were from the 2nd or 7th Battalions of the Norfolk Regiment. They were highly trained in the use of explosives and in unarmed combat and did not need to go to Coleshill for any further training. The Wroxham Scout Patrol did not include any Royal Engineers.

Lt Percy Pike/Pyke - son of a local garage owner
Sgt – name not known
Cpl Leslie Long - a hairdresser from London (Op Bulbasket - executed by German army on 7th July 1944)
Pte Victor Owen "Chalky" White, London (Op Bulbasket – executed by German army on 7th July 1944)
Pte Alfie Barffe
Pte Sid Mace
Pte Bob Butcher
Pte "Nobby" Clarke
Pte Thomas “Tom” Herbert Colquitt – ex LDV/Home Guard, from Widnes, Cheshire (13 Aug 1922 – 29 May 2010)
Pte Johnny Watson ?? http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Norfolk/MarshlandSmeethMemorial.html

The Scout Patrol’s I/O was Captain G. Woodward. They were based in a large house on the outskirts of Wroxham (Norfolk Broads). The area was covered by three AuxUnit patrols (referred to as “Home Guard Patrols” by Wroxham Scout Patrol member TH Colquitt) in Norfolk Group 5 under the command of C/O Lt Harry Wharton of Mautby:

Mautby Patrol, South Walsham Patrol and Wroxham Patrol

HEADQUARTERS

Private garden - Accessed by kind permission of the owners, Mr and Mrs Waters.

An Aux Unit Scout Section was based nearby, at Beech House, Wroxham. Beech House is located about 2 kilometres north-east of Bear’s Grove Wood. The OB in the garden is believed to have housed an SDS radio station (J. Warwicker).

The site is located about halfway down the garden of Beech House, immediately adjoining the northern boundary of the property and a former public footpath (now closed). 

Wroxham Aux Unit Scout Section HQ 1

The site comprised a large house and adjoining garden, requisitioned for use as a base for the Norfolk Auxiliary Units Scouts Patrol. Upstairs, the house was fitted with military bunks. An SDS radio station is believed to have been situated beside the footpath running along the northern edge of the property’s garden.

In the 1940s, the property formed part of the Trafford estate. The house has long since been returned to use as a private dwelling, it was rented out after the war and eventually sold. Before the purchase of the current owners (Mr and Mrs Waters) in 1998 of an area of land adjoining their garden they pointed out to Mr Trafford*, the landowner, an underground structure in the land they wished to purchase from him. Within days workers were sent in and the structure was destroyed. The Waters had believed it to have served as an air raid shelter during the war but had always wondered why it was so far distant from the house.

Wroxham Aux Unit Scout Section HQ 2

*Mr Trafford also owns Bear’s Grove Wood, where Wroxham patrol’s OB is believed to be located.

One of the demolition workers took pictures on his mobile phone. Considering that several years have passed since we did not attempt to try and find him.
 
**A relative of Mrs Waters’ accessed the underground structure before it was demolished.
He described it as having had a flat concrete roof and brick-built walls with a size of probably about 5.50 to 6m by 3m, in a state of collapse.

Wroxham Aux Unit Scout Section HQ 3***The previous tenant, Mr TCS Brooke (Wroxham), also accessed the structure and described to us what he saw.
It created a slight hump in the ground. Entrance was through a vertical shaft with rungs set into a corner of the brickwork. The main chamber consisted of a Nissen hut-type 5- 6m long and 3m wide. It had only one room, the far end of which had collapsed and daylight could be seen. It was completely empty.

Only a very overgrown depression remains on the ground, denoting where the entrance or exit would have been. It immediately adjoins the since discontinued (closed) public footpath leading past the site.

DOB has the site on record as Auxiliary Unit Site S0013571

Condition: Good

Description: 12/05/1999 Large house requisitioned for use by Auxiliary Units as base for the Norfolk Scouts Patrol. Upstairs fitted with military bunks. Garden used for training. [Information to recorder from Mr. T. Colquitt, former member of the Norfolk Scout Patrol, and Mr. J. Fielding, ex-Norfolk auxiliary].
End of garden of Beech House, The Avenue, Wroxham
Entrance beneath cold-frame. Ladder down to L-shaped operational base. Double-storied, with flat corrugated-iron roof. Brick built storeroom with concrete roof and steel door. 20 yard escape tunnel, 2-3 feet high. Small room at end containing radio. [Information to recorder from Mr. T. Colquitt, former member of the Norfolk Scout Patrol]. (Source: William Ward, Field Visit 1999/07)

See more on the OB under 'Other Information' below

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 Currently unknown

The following information is published in John Warwicker, Churchill’s Underground Army (2008):
Strong evidence exists that the Wroxham Scout Section was unique in that one of its two OBs held a radio for the local Auxunit’s Special Duties Section at Wroxham.

Tom Colquitt appears to be the only member of this Scout Section patrol who has come forward and whose account has been published in J Warwicker, Churchill’s Underground Army (2008). Tom Colquitt was posted with AU Scout Section at Wroxham. His patrol carried prepared explosives around on exercises in modified car inner tubes – one end tied with rope and a noose round the other acting as a sling. Bicycle inner tubes were adapted to carry ‘sausages’ of prepared charges to lay along the wing or, preferably, the tail section of an aircraft. They put together a test-firing rig to blow up passing cars: a wire strung across the road from trees was intended, when hit by a vehicle, to set off grenades that were suspended, with safety pins removed, in cocoa tins alongside.

Reference: Tom Colquitt in: John Warwicker, Churchill’s Underground Army (2008)

The following information was compiled from interviews conducted by Dr Will Ward, CART CIO Dorset, on behalf of the DoB Project, with Mr TH Colquitt (Army Number 5783511), who was a member of Wroxham Scout Patrol in 1942/43. Many thanks to Dr Will Ward for making this information available.

After leaving school, Tom Colquitt worked on the railways, a reserved occupation. At the end of 1941 he was called up and joined the 7th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment at Bacton-on-Sea (North Norfolk) at the beginning of 1942.
 
Following a battle exercise at North Walsham Mr Colquitt was asked by a panel of officers if he would want to be put forward for a commission. After having declined he was called before a further panel of officers consisting of a Staff Colonel, a Brevet Major and a Staff Captain. He was questioned on how to destroy a railway, and having worked before the War for the LMS railway and being trained in explosives, this was straightforward. He was asked how to accomplish this task without the use of explosives and a successful answer resulted in his transfer to the Norfolk Scout Patrol at Wroxham. Mr Colquitt had to agree to join and sign the Official Secrets Act before finding out what was involved.

The Scout Patrol was based at a large house near Wroxham Broad. It was mined under the floorboards with guncotton and 36 detonators, and come invasion time pencil detonators would have been added. The house, now known as Beech House, had an office downstairs that was manned by a sergeant (one of the non-operational clerks). There was also a kitchen and an eating area. This was also where guard duty was mounted, though the men had their weapons with them at all times anyway. Upstairs were bedrooms fitted with two to four army beds. Mr. Colquitt shared a room with a Norfolk Lance Corporal and Chalky, Alfie and Bob shared another room. Lt. Pike had a room to his own and Capt. Woodward lived elsewhere. An RASC Sergeant and driver Curtain shared another room. The patrol did their own cooking, though Sid Mace did most of it.

The OB was located in the rear garden of the house, with its entrance disguised by a cold frame. The lid lifted and the floor came up, allowing access down a ladder. It was L-shaped with a flat double-skinned corrugated iron roof, and contained a number of bunks. There was a brick built section for arms and ammunition with a concrete roof and steel door. A two to three foot high escape tunnel ran 10 to 20 yards before coming up through a small hole in a copse. The OB contained a wireless set in a small area near the end of the escape tunnel, operated by the patrol. Its aerial was run up an oak tree above the dugout, hidden beneath a V of bark, cut out and replaced over the wire. The antenna sat in the branches. The call-sign was “Bowling 9”. Apart from a few brief tests no messages were ever sent. Mr. Colquitt remembers that the set was battery powered and for emergencies only. A signaller occasionally called in to check it.

Tom Colquitt believes that the patrol’s 2nd OB was destroyed by construction work for the new Yacht Club on Wroxham Broad.

The OB was the site of an explosion when a member of the patrol (Bob Butcher) accidentally ignited a gas bottle that had been left switched on. It is thought that an engineer was injured. Captain Woodward consequently issued strict instructions on the use of Calor gas after this (this document survives and a copy of it can be seen below.

Wroxham Calor Gas notes

Wroxham was not used for explosives exercises or training.
 
The Scout Patrol was not aware that Rackheath Hall was used by the Special Duties (Signals) Branch of Auxiliary Units.

The OB was fully equipped with food and ammunition was kept in separate steel boxes. There were silica packets to keep the stores dry. The stores were kept in separate brick built areas of the OB, approximately six-foot square, which had concrete roofs and floors and a steel door. The OB was rarely used for training.

Armament was quite varied, with patrol members having their own choice. There was one .22 Winchester(?) single shot bolt action sniper rifle, as well as .303 Lee Enfields, though the latter were generally discarded. Pistols were either .38 Webleys or .38 Smith & Wessons. The pistol rounds were lead rather than nickel. The Thompson sub-machinegun was preferred to the Sten Gun, which was discarded due to frequent jamming.

The patrol also trained with German weapons such as the Mauser, Spandau MG and Potato Masher Grenade. In addition, they were issued with rubber truncheons, brass knuckle dusters, prismatic compasses and Fairbairn fighting knives, the latter made by Wilkinson Sword. Typical fashion was to wear this on the left hip, along with the holster for the pistol, the latter's lanyard either being removed or tied to the belt, not around the neck. If crawling through a wood, the pistol was placed down the back of the neck where it was least likely to get snagged. They also had waterproof• rubber ankle boots, which allowed usually silent movement, though they squeaked in the wet.

The patrol had a variety of specialist explosives and paraphernalia. There were pull switches, pressure switches and "debollickers" (castrators). They used Nobel 808 40z and 80z sticks and plastic, which could only be made in black and could be shaped into small lumps to hide in the coal of a train engine. They were equipped with time pencils and 36 detonators, together with 2ft/min black fuse and instant HE fuse (composed of PETN Pentaerythritol tetranitrate). This latter was the latest cutting fuze. There was a special match, with a bulbous red tip and black body, marked halfway with red band, which did not blow-out in the wind. It did not burn with a flame, but just glowed. (The Fuzzee)

The patrol also made up their own charges, depending on the target. Typical was an baratol sausage in a bicycle inner tube, with detonator and time pencils, which was to lay along the wing of an aircraft. Motor car inner tubes, with the valve section cut out, were used to transport explosives on exercise. One end of the tube was tied with rope, with a noose around the other acting as a sling. The fuses and 36 detonators were attached, but the time pencils left off, to be crimped onto the fuse later with their teeth.

On one occasion the patrol devised a booby trap for vehicles and tested it out. A cocoa tin was nailed to a tree, with a 36 grenade (pin removed) wedged inside. A wire then ran from this grenade to another similarly mounted on the other side of the road. When a vehicle struck the wire, it would behave as explosive boleros. Lt. Percy Pike tried this out in his car (with dummy grenades), and was hit in the face with his car's windscreen being knocked down too.

Transport was a 15cwt Platoon truck (with RASC driver) and a Utility (a small van-like vehicle). The patrol did not have bicycles or motorbikes, though a Despatch Rider (DR) visited occasionally. Lt. Pike had his own private car and Captain Woodward had a Humber Snipe Staff Car. Mr. Colquitt often accompanied Captain Woodward on his visits to the Home Guard patrols, acting as unofficial bodyguard, guarding his briefcase. There were frequent inspections of the Home Guard (AU) Patrols, but not regular visits, and they never involved an overnight stay.

According to Mr Colquitt, the Scout Patrol acted independently and had very little to do with the Home Guard (AU) patrols, who they regarded as greatly inferior. It was felt that the Home Guard (AU) patrols would act as a buffer, allowing the Scout Patrol to inflict real damage.

They knew much that was not general knowledge, including about Operation Sealion and the experiments to set the Channel on fire. They never saluted each other, using first names amongst themselves.

The Scout Patrol members used a pass card, white, with “W.D.” and the words “AUXILIARY UNITS” printed on it. This was their only identification as they did not carry AB64 ptl or pt2, or wear any insignia other than the Royal Norfolk’s cap badge.

An occasional visitor to Wroxham was Major Barclay, rumoured to be a member of the Barclay's Bank family. He was well dressed, with all the kit, and he came to see Capt. Woodward.

About the end of 1943 to the beginning of 1944, Mr. Colquitt transferred to the Royal Engineers and was sent to Longmoor for a T.O. course as a railway controller. Following this came further training at the Edinburgh Battle School and Inverurie, before sailing for the Mediterranean with Lord Lovat's Scouts. He served on military railways in Italy and helped run a captured armoured railcar, “The Atom”, which ran on a stretch of railway near the Yugoslav border and had precedence over all other traffic. After the war Tom Colquitt joined the Police Force and later worked as a Fire and Security Officer until his retirement in 1981. He died on 29 May 2010.

Corporal Leslie “Les” Charles Long (Army Number 6019123) later joined the SAS (B Squadron). He was 26 when taking part part in Operation Bulbasket. He was captured by the German army on 3.7.1944 and executed in Foret de Saint-Sauvant on 7th July 1944. He is buried in Rom Communal Cemetery, France, Military Plot Row 1 Coll. grave 1-26

Private Victor Owen "Chalky" White (Army Number 6011364, formerly Royal Norfolk Regiment) later joined the SAS (B Squadron). His group was part of Operation Bulbasket. He was captured by the German army on 3.7.1944 and executed in Foret de Saint-Sauvant on 7th July 1944. He is buried in Rom Communal Cemetery, France, Military Plot Row 1 Coll. grave 1-26

Dr William Ward, DOB; J Warwicker, Churchill’s Underground Army (2008); Stephen Lewins, CART CIO Northumberland, Mr and Mrs Waters, Wroxham; Mr TCS Brooke (Wroxham)

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