Nov 182018

It’s been a busy few days for the CART team!

Our Press Officer Andrew Chatterton delivered a talk to the Newton Poppleford Local Historical Society. Also our Devon researcher, Nina Hannaford brought along a display with information on the local patrols and Special Duties Branch which went down really well.

We already have a couple of new leads for both the Aux Units and Special Duties Branch in East Devon as a result. Thanks to all who attended and for the generous donations!

Dec 172013

Research has uncovered that the Western Morning News, a local paper in the Devon area, exposed and outed the Auxiliary Units just 17 months after they had been stood down!

Western Morning News 1945

Just one month later the same paper published an interview by an un-named Auxilier (see below). This is fairly shocking as nearly all Auxiliers signed the Official Secrets Act which prevented them from speaking to anyone about their role, needless to say some took this more seriously than others.

The general secrecy of Aux Units during the war varied around the country with some counties being far more relaxed than others.

Western Morning News Aux Interview

But this was not the first public exposure.

In April 1945 The Times on Saturday published an article called ‘A Britain’s Secret “Underground” Invasion Spy Force Stood Down’.


If you know of any other press from this time that talks about the British Resistance please do let us know.

Jul 062013

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.


 Posted by CART HQ on July 6, 2013  Tagged with:
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

Apr 242013

bbc-oxford-logoToday we have been featured in this weeks Country Life magazine and also our founder gave a radio interview to BBC Radio Oxford.

You can see the magazine article here and listen to the radio interview on our radio page here

Also today we set up a Twitter account for our Press Officer to use. You can follow him @CARTPress.

Apr 032013

[SOURCE: Metro Newspaper Online By Hayden Smith]


Members of a top-secret civilian army who signed up to mount last-ditch resistance strikes if Germany invaded Britain during World War II are to be honoured publicly for the first time.

In 1940, when an offensive on British soil by Adolf Hitler’s forces looked inevitable, thousands of volunteers pledged to risk their lives by ‘staying behind’ and attempting to destabilise invaders in any way they could.

Now, after a campaign highlighted by Metro last month, those recruits who are still alive will take part for the first time in the traditional march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day later this year.

As Germany surged through France and efforts to halt their advance abroad faltered, Britain’s high command began making secret preparations for what Churchill described as ‘guerilla formations’.

The Auxiliary Units would convene in hidden underground bases and attempt to mount strikes on the enemy’s supply chain and reserve troops, while the Special Duties Branch would help relay messages between groups about German movements.

Together the organisations became known as Winston Churchill’s ‘secret army’ and the title is apt – they signed the Official Secrets Act before joining and could not even tell their families.

Their mission carried enormous risks and they were given a life expectancy of just two weeks in the event of an invasion.

But despite the sacrifices they were prepared to make, until now there has been scant official recognition for the veterans in the decades that followed the war.

The Royal British Legion confirmed it has offered 12 places at the march-past to the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team, which has been uncovering information about the two groups since 2009 and spearheaded attempts to get them recognition.

CART founder Tom Sykes expressed his delight at the outcome and thanked the Legion.

He said: ‘After over 70 years of silence November sees the chance for all of us to thank an up until recently forgotten group of civilian volunteers who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us, during this country’s darkest hour.

‘It will be a proud day when we see those remaining veterans that are able to take part march past to the cheers of the British public.’

Many of the veterans were in reserved occupations during the war meaning they could not join regular forces.

But Mr Sykes said: ‘When the call came they did not hesitate to join what essentially would have been a suicide mission to confront the enemy invader.

‘Thankfully the invasion never came which means those that did join up often feel that they did not contribute, nothing could be further from the truth in our mind and I’m sure a majority of the country would agree.’

Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson, who supported CART’s work, welcomed the decision.

He said: ‘As more information has come out about these brave men and women the clearer it has become that some form of official recognition was needed.’

Robert Lee, of the Legion, confirmed the decision, saying: ‘We trust this will bring some due recognition to this often-overlooked contribution to the nation’s defences.’


 Posted by CART HQ on April 3, 2013  Tagged with:
Mar 312013

Mail On Sunday March 2013Today the Mail On Sunday ran a story on the Auxiliary Units and the Cenotaph march that CART had worked had to pull off.

You can read the web version here or the printed version here.

Thanks to Valerie Elliott for a good story and for getting it right historically.




 Posted by CART HQ on March 31, 2013  Tagged with:
Mar 282013

the_mail_on_sunday_logoThis Sunday Valerie Elliot from the Mail On Sunday plans to run a story about the Cenotaph march in November and on Wednesday the Metro Newspaper Online also plan to run an update.

Please do buy a copy to read more and an interview with Auxilier Trevor Miners from Perranporth Patrol. Find out more about how CART campaigned to make this happen here.