Jul 122020
 

CART’s first archaeological project investigating the Auxiliary Units was Coleshill Uncovered. 

As the headquarters of Auxiliary Units Coleshill House and Estate was known to have housed the training facilities and hosted many Auxiliers through the war. However the only previous investigation had been by the Ridgeway Military and Aviation Research Group (RMARG). They had made some significant finds, not least the demonstration Operational Base. They excavated the escape tunnel which had collapsed, creating a walk in entrance. They also found an observation post and possible ammunition bunker.

Coleshill Uncovered took a variety of approaches; 

The underground water tunnels, reportedly used by Auxiliary Units, were investigated

A survey of the site identified a number of structures not previously recorded.

Metal detecting revealed evidence of training and men living at the site.

Using a magnetometer allowed the OBs and demonstration hatches to be found.

Excavation revealed details about surviving structures that indicated their design and construction.

Some of the highlights were;

  • The discovery of a bayonet concealed in wall close to where the escape tunnel of the demonstration OB exited. Once a stone was removed it could be retrieved. It is thought this was was part of the demonstration of how to prepare for the worst, but it is remarkable to think this had stayed on place for so long.
  • The uncovering of a number of demonstration hatch covers, showing the range of designs in use. It was remarkable to be able to match one of these to the plans handed out as part of the Patrol Leader’s Course at Coleshill to men from across the country
  • Being able to see the internal layout in one of the Nissen huts due to marks left on the concrete floor, once a mat of vegetation had been rolled back
  • Finding identifiable fragments from an aircraft and a German artillery piece, which confirmed verbal accounts of Coleshill in wartime which had been recounted to the National Trust staff by visitors over the years.

CART hosts the reports from this series of studies and also images of all the finds

Project Stage One and Stage Two

As an extra for the Festival we have uploaded some previously unseen images of the excavations

Please do comment on the photos, particularly if you see something unusual or can help identify something.

The Finds Register is useful to have open while you browse the finds images. 

And as another extra, we have a report on the Firing Range with its supplement

More recent visits to the site have not revealed any additional finds, though we do have a wartime image now of what is believed to be the same location.

Feb 022012
 

We have now published the Stage Two report for our Coleshill Uncovered project.

It can be downloaded here

Thank to John Winterburn and Anna Gow for producing the report and to the National Trust for allowing us permission to access the site.




Oct 222011
 

It has taken sometime but all the finds images from Coleshill Uncovered are now available to view on the Coleshill Uncovered website.

Please have a look through them and if you can identify any unknown items please let us know.

The full report from the week is due in early 2012. There are currently no plans for future work on site.




Jul 062011
 

This week has seen the continuation of CART’s Coleshill Uncovered project on the Coleshill estate in Oxfordshire.

More than 20 people each day are working on site to uncover and learn more about the training of the Auxiliary Units.

The project is being lead by Anna Gow and John Winterburn with help from other archaeologists.

So far we have uncovered the suspected entrance to another operational base. See below.

You can see there are two holes in either side of entrance. These are where part of the counter weighted system would have been housed. The drawing below was drawn at Coleshill and given out to Auxiliers as part of their course notes. It clearly shows the same system and notice the pulleys? Below the drawing you can see the pulleys that we have found.

We have also discovered so far what we believe to be part of a radio dial. In part of the woods that we are working they used to make TRD radio sets. About 250 in number. You can see below the dial and also an image of a modern mock up of the Auxiliary radio which can be seen at the Museum of the British Resistance Organisation.

Source: John Warwicker

More images can be seen here

The work at Coleshill will end this Thursday afternoon.




May 232011
 

 

 

 

 

After the success of the evaluation weekend work at Coleshill the National Trust has now been given the green light to stage two.

This is due to happen from Sunday 2nd July to Thursday 7th July at the Coleshill estate on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire border.

In January 2011 the evaluation weekend (Stage One) located the remains of structures that were previously unknown, as well as discovering many finds including a very well preserved bayonet.

In Stage Two the team plan to re-visit the concrete bases that were previously cleared and will add trenches next to the structures, which will hopefully provide them with either further information about the construction of the original buildings.

Other remains like the suspected ‘Generator Base’ and military vehicle servicing ramp will be cleared of vegetation so they can build a clearer picture of their uses.

During Stage One, a number of strong signals were logged from both metal detecting and geophysics that the team plan to follow-up on.  Some small test trenches may be put in to further investigate these.

The Coleshill Uncovered team are looking for volunteers to help search for further evidence of the headquarters and training grounds of Churchill’s secret Auxiliary Units.

Anyone over 18 years of age can participate and no experience of archaeology is needed. As the project has no funding the organisers have to charge a fee of £75 per person and this will cover you for the week.

For more info and terms of involvement please go to  www.coleshilluncovered.co.uk




Apr 072011
 

The ongoing project at Coleshill, known as Coleshill Uncovered has now been featured in a Swedish history magazine called ‘Altom Historia’.

You can download and read the article here

Roughly translated it reads as

“In the woods a few miles off London was one of Winston Churchill’s most secret facilities. Here, in Coleshill House trained guerrillas during World War II. Their task was to fight the Germans on the invaded Britain.
The men and women would operate in smaller units in different parts of the country. The name used was an Auxiliary Unit, Reserve unit, but had even named a key role in the defense. It was Churchill himself who gave the order to
the secret army was organized. After the evacuation from Dunkirk 1940 was prime minister convinced that a German invasion was to be expected.

Now the archaeological excavations started on the spot. The aim is to see if you can do findings – or find the whole bases – that is to tie resistance movement.

Surprisingly little is known on the device, perhaps because of its top-secret mission. Many of the volunteers were young people. They were trained, among other things in blowing up railways and fight it against it. Upon arrival at the camp had they know that they were not expected to live longer than fifteen days when the Germans landed in England.”




Feb 242011
 

Today we launched www.coleshilluncovered.co.uk, our new micro site for Coleshill Uncovered.

As the project grows and more people get involved we will need to add more information online and a micro site is the best way to do this. You can access the site from any page on our website, look for the small logo in the left hand column or you can go to www.coleshilluncovered.co.uk

We hope you enjoy the new site.