To enable the British Army to reform and mount a counter attack any advance by an invading German enemy had to be slowed down. Delaying this for just a matter of days was to be the role of the innocuously named Auxiliary Units. Nicknamed the ‘scallywags’ their role was to inflict maximum damage on the enemy during a brief but violent period. In June 1940, an Auxiliary Unit patrol was set up in Pimperne.
Sergeant Harold Legg Iron Moulder
Private Leonard Bastin Farrier/Blacksmith
Private Frederick Berry Farm Labourer
Private Harry Duffett Cowman
Private John Hall Driver/Mechanic
Private Harold Joyce Farm Carter
Private Walter Lucas Builder’s Labourer
Private William Shiner Tractor Driver
Private Stephen Shiner Farm Carter (Source: British Resistance Archive)
Service in the Auxiliary Unit was expected to be highly dangerous with an anticipated life expectancy of just twelve days. Patrol members had orders to shoot each other if capture by the enemy was likely. Pimperne Patrol would have been quickly in action if the German invasion had taken place. For German invasion plans indicate that they were to land a large force in Lyme Bay with Burton Bradstock beach, near Bridport, being a preferred landing location.
Well-hidden just off the Stourpaine Bushes & Blandford to Shaftesbury roads, the patrol’s operational base was in a small wooded-copse. The hideout had a shaft down to a Nissen hut style, camouflaged, underground construction with a concrete pipe tunnel. This was presumably an escape tunnel. Operational targets would have been Blandford Camp if it fell into German military hands and the sabotage of enemy movements on the Blandford-Shaftesbury and Blandford-Salisbury roads. The hideout was well-stocked with 14 days’ supplies of plastic explosives, hand grenades and ammunition. As countrymen, the patrol members knew the local area well and would have been trained in hand to hand combat. Auxiliary role members would not have told family members that they had become ‘scallywags’.
Blandford Auxiliary Unit
Pimperne Patrol was part of Dorset Group 5 – Blandford Auxiliary Unit whose Area Commander was Major Robert Wilson (1895-1968). His address is listed as Stud House, Pimperne. During the First World War, he had served in East Africa with the King’s African Rifles. In December 1944, Wilson was to be awarded the Order of the British Empire for his work with Auxiliary Units. The Patrol would train regularly with other Group 5 – Blandford Patrols such as those based in Child Okeford and Woodyates. Until February 1941, the Auxiliary Units’ Dorset Headquarters was at Chestnut House in East Street, Blandford. There was also an Auxiliary Patrol in Spetisbury.
Also, somewhere between Blandford and Tarrant Keynston, there was a ‘Zero Station’ hideout where a radio operator would report on German military movements to a ‘Super Zero Station’ at Wilton. The information would be dropped by trained observers into a secret location, such as a can or a hole in a tree, where it would be collected by the radio operator.
(Illustration: Auxiliary Unit Badge)
(Acknowledgements to British Resistance Archives and www.atlantik.co.uk)
(to be continued)