by Wesley Rock. Hampshire Chronicle. July 5th 2013.
They were to be Churchill’s top-secret last-ditch weapon.
Now after more than 70 years, a Hampshire man is spearheading the project to reveal the hidden secrets behind the British resistance – and the search has revealed several operational bases in the Winchester District.
Known at the time as Auxiliary Units, they were made up of civilian volunteers whose work was considered too important for them to be called up to the regular forces.
Having signed the Official Secrets Act they told no one of their involvement – they would have disappeared as the invading German armies approached, only reappearing at night to sabotage Nazi efforts and “deal with” collaborators.
Researchers know that there were patrols in Eastleigh, Soberton, Droxford and Bishop’s Waltham.
But the problem for Tom Sykes, founder of the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), is that it seems they were all a bit too good at their job and have generally remained silent.
“The important thing to remember is that this was a suicide mission. These guys, when they signed the official secrets act, were not military men, yet they were signing away their lives. If we had been invaded, sooner or later they would have been smoked out. Asking a man to go into a bunker and sit there and then come out and cause as much damage and sabotage as possible, and then return to the bunker and know that sooner or later you’re going to be killed, that to me is a story that needs to be told.
“Some of these men’s families were being sent white feathers, when all the while they were training for this – but they could not say anything.”
CART researchers have also been making important discoveries about the Special Duties Branch.
Also made of local volunteers, their role was to gather information about German troop movements and aeroplanes in the event of an invasion, before passing it on to the defending forces.
Mr Sykes says he knows of at least one radio bunker in Winchester, but says the owner of the property does not want the location to be made public. There were also outstations at Wickham and Denmead.
CART were also involved in successfully lobbying the Royal British Legion for the remaining Auxiliary veterans to march past the Cenotaph in November as part of the Remembrance Sunday parade – it is the first official recognition they have received.
They are appealing for anybody with any knowledge of, or involvement with, the Auxilliaries or the Special Duties Branch to come forward.
“These men have the opportunity to march at Whitehall but they have to come forward to us,” he said.
If you were involved in any of the units mentioned, you can contact CART on 0872 0459940.