The grounds of Coleshill House are littered with Aux history. There’s the Guard House, replica SD hide, the remains of the huts where some of the men lived and worked. Grenade and rifle ranges, where they practiced on old tanks and lorries – even a piece of one of those tanks has been found.
We will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Auxiliers being stood down from service. These brave men and women volunteered to act as an underground resistance to the threatened German invasion in 1940.
What else ? Military vehicles, re-enactors, music & dancing, food and drink. For the kids there will be a special activity challenge trail, and code-breaking.
Plus there are some special guests lined up too:
Malcolm Atkin: former archaeologist, military historian & professional author including these WW2 books –
Tony ‘Scallywag’ Salter: Living Historian and highly knowledgeable Aux Units enthusiast, Tony (and his lovely wife Julie) take their display all around the country educating as they go –
Auxiliary Unit talks from Chris Pratt (British Resistance Museum at Parham, Suffolk), and local historian Bill King who contributed to the book ‘With Britain in Mortal Danger’, as well as appearing in various television programmes.
Of course C.A.R.T. will be there too, packing The Granary to the gunwales with displays of weapons, explosives and other equipment issued to the Auxiliers, a fully equipped bunker and re-creations of the wartime offices. There will be lots of items on display for first time in 75 years in this location, including numerous original documents and photographs.
September: Coleshill WW2 weekend, Coleshill, Oxfordshire WATCH THIS SPACE – this is going to be a BIG event: Coleshill House is where the Aux Units underwent their specialist training 1940 – 1944
The whole of the Granary will be filled by CART, The Scallywags, BROM (British Resistance Organisation Museum) and The Bob Millard (Aux Patrol member) Collection, marking 75 years since the Auxiliary Units were officially stood down… more information to follow…
Coleshill House (SN6 7PT) was the hush-hush headquarters of Churchill’s Secret Army, or the Auxiliers. Discover the detailed history of their training and visit some of the remaining Second World War features around the village, including the Guard House and the original prototype underground training bunker or Operational Base (OB). Plus, check out the newly built and refurbished replica “funk hole” and see the new display of artifacts including a rare copy of a Stand-Down letter.
As the sun sets over Coleshill and the re-enactors pack up their tents we look back at the past 48 hours and say well done to everyone who took part.
The weekend follows months of planning by the National Trust at Coleshill and was a vast improvement on the previous event in 2010.
There were many catering retailers this year and the food options were very tasty. Entertainment was provided by the Warneford Big Band and there was plenty to do for children and families from face painting to code breaking.
On Saturday the new replica Operational Base was opened by Coleshill trained Auxilier Bob Millard and after a brilliant speech he cut the ribbon with his Fairbairn Sykes dagger before taking the time to talk to young and old about his training and service.
Crowds then queued for hours to have a sneak peak inside the unfinished building.
CART researchers wandered around the vast estate answering questions and helping people find the key parts of the site.
On both days there were three talks given. Bill King spoke about how the Auxiliers were formed. Karen Fielder spoke about the architectural masterpiece that was Coleshill House and Chris Pratt from the British Resistance Museum at Parham educated listeners on the three elements to the British Resistance Movement.
The talks were full on both days.
Auxiliary Re-Enactors brought the sites wartime use to life with weapons displays, loud bangs and hands on practical education of weapons and explosives used. Tony Salter brought his excellent mobile Aux display and fired up the children’s imagination.
The 70 year old original Operational Base set deep in the Coleshill woods was also open and National Trust volunteer
Roger Green provided guided tours and more than comfortably filled the boots of the late warden Keith Blaxhall.
There were many vintage vehicles on display with the Austin 7 club and the Military Vehicle Trust (MVT) present.
On Sunday CART researchers set up a small display in the Granary and answered many questions from the public.
Impressionist, playwright and comedian Rory Bremner even popped in and picked up a CART flyer. Later he posted on Twitter.
More information on the weekend and all the images can be found here
Thanks to all who took part and all who attended and special thanks to Keith Blaxhall who kept the Aux fire burning at Coleshill for over 30 years.