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.
When looking at an Operational Base, a plan can helpful to understand what can be seen in specific photos. It is often difficult to understand a structure from a single image or series of images. But a plan, or series of plans, can only show two dimensions at once.
The simplest way to address this is with a sketch, that adds the third dimension. Our Admiralty 4 (Prior Park) Patrol report contains an example of this. The sketch makes clearer how an underground structure is arranged, when that cannot be easily seen from the images alone.
Software has made it possible to build virtual 3D models from measurements of an Operational Base. Once the realm of specialists, there are now entry level software options to build a virtual 3D model and colour it to create an accurate reconstruction of an OB that may be collapsed or overgrown. An example of this can be seen with theseimages of a very overgrown OB at Portesham in Dorset, with a simple 3D model showing much more clearly than any of the image the layout of the operational base.
We have been fortunate enough to have a professional showing us how it should be done. Matt Brazier kindly produced a couple of models of Operational Bases for CART and has animated these into a walk through which further improves the understanding of design. We have seen his model of the Salisbury In-station already. He produced another of Operational Base of the Drellingore Patrol. The OB in this instance was collapsed, though the shaft and escape tunnel remain intact. The reconstruction video allowed the original structure to be visualised as it would have been. There is always a risk of introducing interpretation into a model and making assumptions. The initial model of the Binnegar OB seen in the report, assumed the shaft was a rectangle shape. However, once excavated it became clear it was narrower at one end than the other, as can be seen in the images. Experience has shown that you can’t take too many measurements and it is is also worth planning a follow up visit to repeat the measurements that were overlooked the first time!
More recently archaeological recording has advanced to incorporate 3D scanning technology. Issues of missed measurements are overcome as the laser scanner takes thousands of measurements to create a point map. This plots each measurement in three dimensions to create a virtual model of the structure. This model can be rendered with either illustrations or photographs mapped onto the images. Recently, AOC Archaeology were contracted by Forestry and Land Scotland to record an Operational Base that came to light during felling works. This was an OB in a relatively good state of preservation, belonging to the Beattock Patrol in the Scottish Borders and ideal for this technique. Of particular interest was the linking of scans above and below ground to generate an illustration of the location of the structure in the landscape. As these structures are vulnerable to rust and other natural damage over time, this has to be the modality of choice to record these structures where possible. We are grateful to AOC for sharing the final report and the images. These images are very effective and certainly captured the imagination of the press, resulting in numerous articles including one in French!
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!
We are delighted to inform you that a memorial will be unveiled in recognition of the Pelynt Patrol.
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.
Some great coverage about the Ferndown bunker in Dorset. Many thanks to the Bournemouth Echo for their story (see here: https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/…/18184877.pictured-top-…/) and if any families of the members of the patrol are available for the official opening of the site, please get in touch.
The rediscovered Ferndown O.B. was excavated last year by CART. As is quite common, the local kids used to play in it, but perhaps were unaware of the significance of the structure – definitely not an air-raid shelter !
With support form the local council part of the bunker will be permanently viewable, complete with an information board.
We had the great pleasure of talking to the Sid Vale Association yesterday afternoon, in one of the more glamorous venues we get to talk in!
Many thanks to the people of Sidmouth who turned out to listen. We picked up a few leads of patrols in and around the area, so we’ll make sure that we keep you updated on anything that comes from them.
Just as a reminder we have another talk for the Colyton History Society coming up in February. Wednesday 26th February 7.30pm at Colyford Village Hall. It would be great to see you there!