Posts by CART HQ:
For the first day of the Festival we at CART would like to introduce you to archaeology as it relates to the Auxiliary Units.
Conflict Archaeology is the term used for the archaeology of modern warfare, typically of the 20th Century. It also includes the wealth of material, including personal accounts of use, from those that were involved with locations. This is somethig that rarely if ever exists for more ancient sites. It considers more than just what can be dug up, including how sites are perceived over time.
Until quite recently, structures left over from the Second World War were generally considered eyesores, something to be cleared out of the way to get to the actual archaeology from hundreds of years ago. However, archaeological techniques can be applied to excavating wartime structures. It can uncover information that has otherwise been lost, despite being in the recent past.
When we think about Auxiliary Units perhaps the most obvious structures are the underground Operational Bases (OBs). Yet we know relatively little about when most were built, and even less about how they were built. We have a couple of documents showing designs, yet almost all OBs differ in some way.
But Auxiliary Units did not spend all of their time underground, in fact documentary and personal accounts indicate quite the opposite. They had training centres and headquarters, and practiced their skills against various military structures.
If we start at the beginning, perhaps the first attempt to apply some archaeological process to the Auxiliary Units story was the Defence of Britain Project. This aimed to document the location and type of all wartime sites in Britain, with some basic information and in some cases images or measurements, or other written evidence. It ran between 1995 and 2001 and although administered by the Council for British Archaeology, the fieldwork was almost entirely done by volunteers without any formal training. There was no follow up investigation of the sites by excavation or any other means. The result was a database that is still available to search online.
As part of CART’s history, this was an important project as it put researchers interested in Auxiliary Units from around the country in touch with others working cooperatively with a common purpose. Many of those original Defence of Britain volunteers are members of CART or have contributed information to this website.
Probably the first formal archaeological report on an Auxiliary Units site came from Wales. We would like to thank Martin Locock, the author for permission to host a copy here.
With decades of hindsight, we now know that the alcove described most likely would have housed an Elsan toilet, and that the winch mechanism was for the door. This highlights how knowledge alters the interpretation of the same findings. The Royal Observer Corps underground bunkers of the post-war era, were equipped with radio aerials that could be elevated by winding them up from inside. These structures had no need to be completely concealed from an enemy, as they were designed for monitoring nuclear fall out. We know now that Auxiliary Units had better ways to conceal an aerial from even close scrutiny, described in the Special Duties part of this website.
This was the Operational Base for the Pontarwarde Patrol
Martin Locock has his own award winning archaeology blog with top tips for project managers
In Essex in 2006, came one of the first formal archaeologial excavations of an Operational Base. Based on a accounts of a structure and the presence of a depression, a small excavation revealed eveidence of the structure.
The report can be read here
Further information was recorded in a subsequent project documenting World War Two Heritage in Essex
Some additional Images are in the Essex Sites and Monuments Register
Read the CART Patrol report here, with the men fully identified for the first time
The site is now being preserved and hopefully its Auxiliary Units history can be incorporated in the future interpretation at the site.
Rather a nice example of the extended scope of Conflict Archaeology. We don’t just have the report of the excavation, but this prompted accounts of the use of the site to come to light. Providing publicly accessible reports brought forward more information over time. The presence of a boat in the mill race as a getaway vehicle was empheral and could never have been deduced from excavation. Yet it explains the structure, specifically why the escape tunnel was built to open into the Mill Race. For the modern volunteers restoring the Mill, it provides an alternative way to interpret the structure and an additional element to the history of the site.
We’ll be back with more for Day 2 tomorrow
The website will now go ‘LIVE” on 11th July. Sneak preview late on 9th or 10th July. Thanks for your support.
The new Website launch will coincide with the online Archaeology Festival hosted by the Council For British Archaeology.
To whet your appetite, here’s our new video highlighting some our more recent archaeological projects: https://youtu.be/WCJjan8CWLo
Official Launch date: 9th July
We have been working tirelessly for the past few years on a new website, and are now in a position to launch. The official date is the 9th of July, but as email subscribers you get a sneak preview from the 7th July: www.staybehinds.com
While it’s not quite the finished article, we have compiled more Auxiliers in one place than has ever been achieved anywhere before (we’re quite proud of that). We have over 6000 names, and if you know someone we’ve left off, please get in touch.
We’ll be adding information over the coming months, including photographs, info on the Special Duties Branch, Coleshill House & Estate and Auxiliary Unit links with the SAS and SOE. If you notice any errors on the new site please contact us.
A huge shout out of thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years, and continues to support us. It really is appreciated – CART is a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation run by just a handful of enthusiasts. Thank you one and all.
To whet your appetite, here’s a brand new video brought to you by CART highlighting some of the archaeological projects we have been involved with: https://youtu.be/WCJjan8CWLo
We’ve chosen our new website launch to coincide with the digital Festival Of Archaeology running from the 11th to the 19th July, hosted by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA): https://festival.archaeologyuk.org
Bill was part of the Long Bredy Operational Patrol in Dorset.
SALISBURY William (Bill) Peacefully at Park House Care Home on 3rd April 2020, aged 95 years. Beloved husband of Jean, father to Lyn, Carol and Ian, grandfather to Emma & Luke, Michelle, Mark & Natalie, Craig & Matthew, Nathan and Charlie and great grandfather to Jake, Ivy & Oliver and Celine.
Bill visited us 2016 at the Broadmayne D5 show. You can read the Long Bredy Patrol report here: https://www.coleshillhouse.com/long-bredy-auxiliary-unit-patrol.php
They are including a piece on the Auxiliary Units covering everything from the creation of the very first units (initially named the XII Corps Observation Unit) under Peter Fleming (brother of Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond), to how they were trained in ‘thuggery’ and the types of weapons that made up their rather impressive arsenals! Make sure you pick up a copy!
Throughout the day we will be posting a few stories from Auxiliary Unit Patrol members and their memories on Facebook.
Search for: British Resistance Archive – Churchill’s Auxiliary Units or click on this picture-link below:
Obviously by May 1945 the Patrols had been stood down; however, many still had possession of a large amount of explosives, which created memorable firework celebrations!
Others were returning from fighting in Europe with Special Forces, or finding themselves in European countries having helped liberate them, or in hospital recovering from wounds received in the course of victory. We hope you all have a safe and peaceful VE Day and weekend!
With the aid of local researchers during lock-down, we have a couple of photographs from Milford Haven of the Memorial to Hubert William ‘Stokey’ Lewis V.C. of the Milford Haven Patrol. (https://www.coleshillhouse.com/milford-auxiliary-unit-and-operational-base.php)
Whilst there they also saw a memorial to his son. Vernon Lewis was a Flight Sergeant in the RAF. He was tragically killed in his Lancaster over Germany in August 1943 at the age of just 22.
We know of some Memorials around the country, but if you know of any to your local Auxiliers or Patrols, we’d love to hear from you and document them.
We are all going a bit stir-crazy at the moment not being able to get out and about properly. All summer events have been cancelled, but that’s not stopping us researching and working on the new website.
We are increasing our activity on Facebook. Lots of interesting people and places to check out. Do take a look. We are having a lot of great comments and interactions. Search for British Resistance Archive or click on the link below:
Get ‘click-happy’ here: https://www.facebook.com/staybehinds/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
The latest post is about a Welsh Auxilier who won the Victoria Cross. You can scroll back to view previous posts too.
Unfortunately due to the global COVID-19 virus outbreak all current CART public events are postponed until further notice.
In other news, behind the scenes work is progressing well on our new website. There is a huge amount of data to transfer, so bare with us. It will be worth it as the new site will have more information and will be easier to navigate. We will preserve the legacy of the brave Auxiliers.
We are delighted to inform you that a memorial will be unveiled in recognition of the Pelynt Patrol Auxiliary Unit.
This will take place on Saturday 21st March at Pelynt Village Hall, (near Looe), PL13 2LP. We will have a display of Auxiliary Units equipment and local patrol information inside the village hall from 12:00pm. The unveiling of the memorial will take place by the Lord Lieutenant Edward Bolitho OBE, at 2.30-3.00pm.
The memorial will be sited in the garden area directly outside the village hall where a place for it has been specially prepared. All welcome.
Link to the Pelynt Patrol report on the CART website here: https://www.coleshillhouse.com/pelynt-auxiliary-unit-patrol.php