The Family is rightly very proud. George was part of the St. Keverne Operational Patrol (www.staybehinds.com/patrol/st-keverne-patrol) based on the Lizard Peninsular. CART pointed the family in the right direction for how to claim.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2. As Remembrance Day events are cancelled due to Covid, we take time to remember those that were involved with Auxiliary Units.
Whilst each person’s entry on our website is a personal memorial in itself, we have created a new page highlighting the increasing number of Memorials, Plaques and Information Boards dotted around the country.
Please take a few moments to explore the page and see what Auxiliary Memorials might be near you. We are aware that most of them are in southern England and Wales. We would love to see more recognition throughout the whole of Britain: www.staybehinds.com/memorials-connected-auxiliary-units
Of course, YOU might know of more memorials, plaques, information boards, or local features that have Aux links that we are unaware of. We’d love to hear of more and add them to our site !
Pelynt village (near Looe) in Cornwall is the latest place to erect a memorial to Auxiliary Units. The memorial was unveiled in spring, but due to the virus there was not the turn-out hoped for. The memorial has been placed outside Pelynt village hall at a specially prepared seating area.
CART was also planning to attend with our large multi-award winning display of Auxiliary Units equipment and information. We will do this when we are allowed our freedom back and it is safe to do so.
Thanks goes to John Jolliff for being such a force in bringing the history of these brave men and women to his community by way of his many informative talks. Thanks also to Mary Talbot for her organizational skills and this photograph of the memorial.
One of our main aims for the new website was to get as much information on individuals was possible, including images. A good example is that of Airlie Abinda Campbell a member of the Special Duties ATS.
One of the most remarkable stories associated with Airlie, is how she met her husband, George Gascoyne (https://www.staybehinds.com/george-archibald-clive-gascoyne) an Auxilier who accidentally stumbled across Airlie’s wireless bunker, descended down the ladder and was confronted by her pointing a revolver at his head (photo attached of their wedding day)!
If anyone has any images of any other ‘Secret Sweeties’ (what the members of the Special Duties ATS unit were, rather politically incorrectly called), we would love to see them.
Indeed, if anyone has any information on the Special Duties Branch we would love to hear from you!
We must be now very near to losing all members of the Auxiliary Units and Special Duties, but we are more determined than ever to remember them and the sacrifice they were willing to make for the country.
There’s everything from interviews with Auxiliers, their training, the Operational Bases, the Special Duties ATS ladies, Memorial plaques, tours of bunkers, Auxiliary Units Headquarters, reenactors and a good deal of the shows we normally attend each year.
There are over 130 different videos up already, and this is a platform we’ll be looking to do more on this year inline with the new site.
Check out Churchill’s Secret Army on YouTube. Enjoy!
For the final day of the Festival of Archaeology, we are looking at some of our most recent projects. As yet they these do not have full or final reports but there are still interesting findings we can share.
At Nether Stowey we had the opportunity to briefly investigate an Operational Base that was already partially collapsed. The site was on a farm, and had proved an ongoing issue for the sites owners, as their sheep regularly found a way through increasingly expensive fencing and into the OB. Once there they struggled to extract themselves and over the years, more than one had ended their days there. The plan was therefore to bury the OB and prevent this happening. CART were offered the opportunity to investigate the OB prior to the site being buried. In this situation there is no need undertake a total excavation. Parts of the structure will remain intact for future generations to study. The purpose was to learn what was not immediately obvious. There was limited time, with a day or preparation and a day for excavation.
A draft report on the excavation details the findings. Whilst the main chamber was the typical elephant shelter, both the entrance and escape exit are different. See our images of the dig for more details. Possibly the escape exit may represent a later addition, although no specific proof of this was found. The end chamber is built from bricks, unlike the concrete blocks of the main end walls, except around the route to the escape tunnel. We have a couple of basic plans to show the layout, though the more formal plan was drawn up prior to the excavation so does not show the entrance that was identified. Creating detailed plans and reports is a lengthy process and just recently our new website has taken priority. However, hopefully this will indicate how the new website will be developing as we have the chance to complete and add this material online.
A final bonus from the excavation was the publicity in the local area regarding the excavation resulted in CART being given a copy of a photograph of the Nether Stowey Patrol.
Over a period of several weeks in 2019, CART, supported by Dorset Council and their wildlife volunteers with some technical support from the New Forest Community Archaeology team. From the first identification of the exact location by local resident Adam Dunn, to the extensive excavation and final interpretation board, has been quite a journey. Our initial report shows the difference from what we knew at the start of the year to now. The Ferndown Patrol report contains some of the images from this, another site which had an extensive ventilation system of glazed pipes, which was partially uncovered during the dig. Metal detecting and ground penetrating radar were both deployed in the initial stages to locate the buried structures. The former found the water tank with its concealed filler cap, whereas the latter was better for finding the shaft and the disturbed ground of the ventilation system. We are grateful to Gary Sterne of Maisey Battery for bringing his expensive kit and helping us out. Do check out his site in Normandy, for some very extensive digging and some remarkable associated historical research that is rewriting one of the central stories of D Day.
Our attempts to have a formal unveiling of the new interpretation board and the remains deliberately left extant were unfortunately foiled, first by severe storms this spring, then by the coronavirus pandemic! We would like to put on an event to show off the finds but perhaps that will have to wait for the 2021 Festival of Archaeology!
And as an extra bonus here is our colleague, John Wareham, instrumental in setting up the Ferndown excavations, with his video of the Auxiliary Units display built for a show season that won’t be happening. John is definitely our experimental archaeologist, learning how to remake items not built since the war.
Finally we bring you a short report from the Coleshill Estate. The team there have continued their investigation of the training structures at the site and have identified a new Operational Base there. This appears to be of a much earlier type than the previously known elephant shelter, being a box-like structure of corrugated iron on wooden beams. This may suggest that the design of OBs developed officially during the war, perhaps as more experienced Royal Engineer Officers became involved.
We hope you have enjoyed our brief tour through the archaeology of Auxiliary Units. CART continue to research the Auxiliary Units and new information has been forthcoming even during this week. New material is now being regularly add to our website, so do keep coming back to see. We would be keen to hear from anyone investigating Auxiliary Units sites of all types, anywhere in the country, to share what we have found and to help learn from our mistakes. We are grateful to those archaeologists, both professional and amateur, who kindly shared their research with us to share with you. Please contact us if you have any information about Auxiliary Units that you don’t see on this website already. We think we have included everyone who was involved, but we know there must be missing names.