This remembrance Sunday (10th November) remaining veterans of what would have been Britain’s last line of defence against an invading German army will proudly march past the Cenotaph for the very first time.
The British Resistance, or Auxiliary Units as they were known, were formed of volunteers who were too old or too young to be called up, or in reserved occupations. They were picked because of their intimate knowledge of their local surrounding areas and were often farmers, gamekeepers or poachers.
In the event of an invasion they were to go directly to their operational bases (OBs) hidden underground throughout the British countryside, without letting a soul know where they were going or their mission. Once in their OB these highly trained volunteers would wait for the invading army to pass over them and then come out at night and disrupt the enemy’s supply chain, cut vital communications, ‘deal’ with collaborators and generally try to make a nuisance of themselves to allow the regular forces to counter-attack.
Such was the danger of their mission the life expectancy of an Auxiliary Unit member was only expected to be a fortnight after the invasion started. They signed the Official Secrets Act and never told their nearest relatives or friends what they had to do, most never revealed even after the war, taking their secrets to the grave.
Another group that will be represented at the Cenotaph for the first time will be the volunteers of the Special Duties Branch. These volunteer civilian’s and ATS personnel were to gather information on the invading army’s forces, numbers of vehicles, specific regiments etc and pass this on covertly to the regular forces via a secret radio network.
The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team, (CART) the group behind the British Resistance Archive, the largest collection of research into this highly secretive group, has worked with the Royal British Legion to ensure these veterans are included in the march past, representing their first official recognition.
Tom Sykes, founder of CART said. “We are hugely proud to have made it possible for veterans and families of volunteers no longer with us to march on Sunday 10th.
“Although we are finding out more about these groups of civilians and the extraordinary lengths that they were prepared to go to protect their country, we are sadly meeting fewer and fewer surviving members. Soon we will be left with none, and so the importance of the work our researchers are undertaking throughout the country takes on even more significance.
“The situation could very well be that this will be the first and the last time these veterans will get the nationwide recognition they deserve and so this Sunday will be a hugely moving and proud day for all of us involved.”
Read more about the Cenotaph march http://www.coleshillhouse.com/