Jul 062013

By Dave Robson – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. July 5th 2013.

Philip Dawson’s daughter was shocked to discover her dad was trained as part of Britain’s last line of defence against the Nazis


He was a kind, gentle man who loved sport and family life.

But Philip Dawson of Marton had a secret he kept from even those closest to him – he was a trained killer, prepared to be Britain’s last ditch line of defence during World War Two.

Philip was an Auxilier – one of Churchill’s secret armies. He and several friends were members of the Marton Patrol on the outskirts of Middlesbrough.


The Auxiliers were to be the last line of defence in the event of a German invasion. And an invasion in 1940 following the Dunkirk evacuation seemed a case of when, not if.

Described as guerrilla-style troops, and with a life expectancy of only two weeks, they were trained to disrupt supplies, kill collaborators and enemy troops and destroy strategic targets.

But none of his family knew.

His daughter Lesley Ann told the Gazette how she only found out about her late father’s heroic secret role after watching a TV programme about the Auxiliers with her 91-year-old mother Mary.

Mary, who married Philip in 1943 at Danby, recognised the name of Coleshill, the Auxiliers’ Oxfordshire base, and remembered her husband regularly trained there, often returning home shattered.

Intrigued, Lesley Ann contacted Coleshill – now a National Trust property – to ask if Philip had been involved.


And sure enough, volunteer Andy Gwynne of the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) confirmed that Philip had been a member of the six-strong Marton Patrol, alongside the likes of life-long friends Harold Wilton and Stan Boynton.

Now, having learned more about Philip’s secret, Lesley Ann and family members are inquiring about marking his, and the Marton Patrol’s, selfless devotion to their country by having a tree planted and a plaque installed in their honour at Coleshill House.

Lesley Ann, who has lived in London for 40 years but was born in Middlesbrough and attended Middlesbrough High School for Girls, said she was astonished to learn about the role played by her late father, who died in 1999.

She said: “None of us, including Mary, his wife of over 50 years, had the faintest idea about this totally hidden part of their lives. My father was a lovely man, very gentle, very modest, quite shy.

“Auxilier volunteers operated under the cover of the Home Guard, and all had to sign The Officials Secret Act. This would explain my enduring bafflement that an extremely fit young man – he captained Middlesbrough Cricket Team and was also a fine footballer – was counted as reserved occupation and a member of Dad’s Army. This was because it was all a front.”

Since discovering about her dad, Lesley Ann, 65, has joined friends on a fascinating visit to Coleshill, where they learned how the person who checked the trainees for security, using a secret code, was the village postmistress at neighbouring Highworth, Mabel Stranks.

On her visit, Lesley Ann crawled through a camouflaged tunnel into a replica of an Operational Base, and looked around a part Heritage Lottery-funded original Guard House with explanatory boards and photographs about the site – “a nice touch, given that I work for The National Lottery operator, Camelot,” she said.

Last stop was a wooded bank on which nine trees with commemorative plaques in memory of different Auxilier units were planted.

Thanks to a CART campaign, representatives of the Auxiliers will, for the first time, march at next year’s Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in belated recognition of their contribution to the country’s defence. But Lesley Ann and her family would like the Middlesbrough unit remembered at Coleshill too.

She said: “It may be 73 years after the event, and we would just love to have heard Philip talk about it, but this is the next best thing.

“The idea of our very gentle and delightful father as a trained guerrilla killer is jaw-dropping. Who would have guessed?”

For more information about CART and the Marton Patrol, visit www.coleshillhouse.com

May 132013

CART-LiveToday our CIO for East Yorkshire and his team broadcast a series of videos live during an investigation to find an Operational Base in the wilds of East Yorkshire.

The three hour journey showed how hard it is for our researchers to find underground Operational Base’s designed not to be found.

At around 11:00 am they found a pile of bricks next to a large depression which they believe may have been the location of the bunker.

If this is the case it has long since been destroyed.

The live broadcasts allowed us to share the experience within minutes of them finding the location and gave a real insight it how hard the work is.

More research into the location will follow but you can see the videos here.

May 122013

onairOn Monday 13th May from 10 am Andy Gwynne, CART CIO for East Yorkshire, and his assistant Martyn Owst, will attempt to broadcast a  series of LIVE video reports from an Operational Base near Bridlington.

As far as we know this will be a world first and could change the way we choose to report on this research.

The video reports can be viewed here. 

Feb 272012

‘War Secrets Must Not Die With Us’ – A strong and clear message from Yorkshire Auxilier Claude Varley.

Some time ago CART invite the Hull Daily Mail along to see an Operational Base at Rise used by the Auxiliary Units.

After the trip Andy Gwynne, CART’s Yorkshire CIO, introduced the journalist to Claude Varley, and Auxilier with Bewholme Patrol.

Today the Hull Daily Mail have run a massive story on CART’s work and Claude’s memories. Not only did they run the story on the front cover but also a double page spread and quarter page making it the most largest single printed exposure CART has been luck enough to get to date.

The online version of the article can be seen here as well as a video. The printed article can be seen here.

A full audio interview with Claude will follow on the Bewholme patrol report page in the next few weeks.

Our thanks to Andy Gwynne for his ongoing research and Emma Wright at the Hull Daily Mail.

Jan 312012

Today we have added Andy Gwynne’s report on East Yorkshire’s Walkington Auxiliary Unit to the site.

Not only has Andy found their OB he has also produced a very nice video which takes you on a tour of the site.

You can see the report and video here

Dec 212011

We are pleased to announce that Phil Evans has been appointed as our County Information Officer (CIO) for Kent and Andy Gwynne is our new CIO for Yorkshire.

Both Andy and Phil have already been CART members for sometime and have contributed in many ways to our research. We now have 13 CIO’s researching for us around the UK.

We wish them all the best with their forthcoming work and we will be supporting them in anyway we can. Their research will be published on our website in due course.

Dec 202011

We have now added a report by CART member Andy Gwynne to the site.

The Aldbrough Auxiliary Unit from East Yorkshire can be seen here

This is Andy’s first report for CART and he has also created a video on the location.

Andy says he has not seen any images of this patrols OB on the net or any books and suspects that his images are a CART exclusive.