Charles George Spence – 28/6/1917 – 2/7/2012
I have to announce the death of former Auxilier Charles George Spence. He was the last surviving member of his patrol. He was part of the 1st East Lothian Battalion Home Guard, East Linton Patrol, 201 GHQ Reserve Auxiliary Units No. 4 Area (Border).
He was married to Jean with children Stella, Charles and Victoria. The family originated in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, his father was Charles Thomas Spence of Unst. His father farmed at Tynefield, Dunbar and was well known for breeding varieties of potato and a keen photographer.
Charles George Spence was in a reserved occupation when WW2 broke out but like many of his farming and agricultural workers answered the call to defend the country made by Anthony Eden on May 14th 1940. From his Home Guard and farming contacts he was eventually selected for something altogether more dangerous and totally secret. Along with George Davidson, Alan Cockburn, Adam Middlemas, Jock Grant, Willie Aldershaw and William Johnston they became the East Linton Patrol of the Auxiliary Units. Sworn to secrecy they were part of Major Gubbins’ “Marquis” an underground army recruited and equipped to cause as much havoc as possible if the Germans invaded. As a unit they had the best of equipment, much of which the regular army could only dream of.
East Lothain was seen as a major target for the Germans as the British fleet were at Rosyth Naval base just up the coast from Charles Spence and his patrols homes. Their other main target area was the main railway line down the east coast, telegraph and electrical supply poles and RAF East Fortune, an airfield the Germans would hope to capture and use as a base for bombing northern Britain and the fleet in the North Sea.
He under went training at Monksford, St. Boswells and Coleshill House near Swindon. At Coleshill they were taught the tactics they would need and how to use their large store of explosives. The patrol also featured in an inter unit shooting competition in which they finished 3rd behind Kent 1st and Sussex 2nd. George Davidson was the patrol’s best shot. Though this lead to some soul searching among the patrol who had decided that if captured Charles or George would shoot the prisoner to prevent him talking and save him from torture at the hands of his German captures. Life expectancy for the Auxiliers was less than two weeks.
Charles and the patrol were asked to volunteer for overseas action and were taken by train along with other members of the Scottish Auxilary Units south to London arriving on 6/6/44 to hear the news on the radio while having something to eat of the mass invasion by the Allies on the French coast. The East Linton patrol was then taken almost abroad to the Isle of Wight where they spent two weeks patrolling as the island’s hidden garrison. There was a fear that the Germans may use parachute troops to land on the island and start their own invasion thus upsetting the Allies plans. This did not happen and the men from East Linton returned home.
The Operations Base for the patrol was at Janefield Wood. It reached a wider audience in late 1974 when after the roof collapsed the army were called in to deal with the 30 year old high explosives left over from the war. Approximately 100lbs of high explosives and sticky bombs were blown up.
Rest in peace Charles George Spence a brave Scot’s Auxilier.
by CART CIO for Northumberland Stephen Lewins.