Wednesday, 25 April 2018

WW2; Winston Churchills Secret Army...

`Never give in, never never never...`    Winston Churchill 1940

In the last few years there has come to light a lot of information regarding a secret army here in Great Britain that during WW2 would have at all costs defended our country if we had been invaded by the Nazi German war machine as it advanced across Europe in 1939/1940...

Further down the post are some Youtube films which show some of the secret bases these Top Secret Units operated from and some of the weapons they were issued with.
First some history...

1940;
From 1940 to 1944 nearly 5000 men who were approached then if interested signed the official secrets act, were then secretly trained at Coleshill House near Swindon in England and later at other top secret bases across the UK....

Coleshill...


They were trained to do a job like no soldier had been trained to do before, in their fight there would be no rules and the weapons used to stop any invading army were in some cases very very nasty indeed....

After the last minute retreat in the Dunkirk evacuation in June 1940, The threat of invasion of Britain by the Nazi led Germany Army which had swept across Europe looked very real indeed...
Winston Churchill ordered a battle-hardened colonel called Colin Gubbins to form the BRO, also known as GCHQ Auxiliary Units.
At the time German forces were only 25 miles across the water, and so grave was the threat they posed that British intelligence chiefs had on September 7 initiated the codeword `Cromwell`. It meant invasion imminent.
Church bells were banned from being used, if there was an invasion church bells were to be rung giving everyone the signal. that we were being invaded...

The idea behind the BRO was that an armed and highly trained band of guerrilla fighters would continue the war in newly occupied Britain, with instructions to kill and harass the enemy no matter what the reprisals.
Gubbins selected a dozen regular army intelligence officers to recruit local men.

These local men who were asked to join were men exempt from fighting abroad due to work responsibility's; Men that included; Farmers, gamekeepers, Local Headmasters, men between the age of 18 to mid 40s who knew there local countryside well.
These men were already enlisted in the Home Guard. Upon approach they were asked if they would volunteer to do an important job which could be of up most importance to the country. If they agreed to volunteer they were then sworn under the official secrets act and would then go on to be trained for the skills required.

All innocently under the cover that they were away doing Home Guard training these men were sent to Coleshill House, and later in the war at various other locations which would turn them into ruthless killers, supplied with rations, weapons and explosives.
There job was to destroy Railway and road communications, bridges, fuel and ammunition dumps of the invading forces, using stealth and silent killing of sentries to place explosives to derail trains and blow up aircraft at occupied Airfields,to cause as much mayhem as possible and inflict as much destruction and death to the occupied forces as possible.

They were trained to be suicidal as local East Lothian WW2 historian and author and friend of my Dad,  the late Jack Tully Jackson who had met and interviewed the local Aux Units members has described their role if we had been invaded.....

The Reality;
When these men agreed to join and signed the Official Secrets Act they were told that their life expectancy would probably be no more than two to three weeks in the event of an invasion.
These men could not tell there parents, wives or girlfriends what they were trained to do if there was an invasion. If the church bells started ringing they would have quietly slipped away...
They would just disappear with out saying a good bye to their loved ones and would go to ground and do there duty until death...
No one would ever likely see them again, just think about that for a moment...

Training;
Sent to Coleshill House, a stately home near Swindon the potential new members would arrive by train with instructions to report to the nearby village post office where a Mrs Mabel Stranks the post mistress would phone up to the big house for the recruits to be collected.
Driven around for several miles in darkness of the truck interior, recruits had no idea which way they had travelled to Coleshill from the Station, secrecy was key to this prepared resistance preparation...

Trained and Ready;
So the trained and ready organised Aux Patrols would live under the disguise of the Home Guard and waited for what seemed like a certain invasion in 1940 but told no one of there real duty if the time came...




Most Aux Units, called patrols would comprise of 6 men, who would operate from a hidden base, called an Operation base (OB)...
The Units would live in here and it is expected that they would hold up during daylight hours and then go out after the cover of darkness and do what they were trained to do - cause as much destruction and mayhem as possible...
National Trust picture...


These bases were mostly constructed in out of the way areas like woodland on private estates, far from public eyes, or Nazi spies.
Many were built to a standard plan which included a chimney which would go up through a hollowed out tree, the smoke would rise to disperse in the tree leaf canopy, allowing the men to boil water on paraffin stoves to cook food without being detected.  very clever...
With a deflection wall between the hidden sliding entrance hatch and the main room the deflection wall would stop German troops who if discovering the base from killing them inside by grenades dropped down the vertical access shaft them if discovered...




Behind the main room with bunks etc, a second room contained weapons and explosives and there was an escape tunnel which often led to a concealed fake mortar wall at a sunken ditch or `Ha ha` as it is called in England which could be simply pushed out allowing the men to quietly slip away...

Aux units were instructed to shoot themselves if capture was likely.
In fact they were instructed to shoot any Unit member captured if possible as he would be tortured to reveal the location of there base,
In July this year there was this report about The Auxiliary Units on the News...

youtube film...



Here, a film of a tour of a Aux Unit OB at Coleshill....

youtube film...



Check out the killing weapons here, some real nasty stuff...
This video shows a tour of the Museum Of The British Resistance Organisation located at Parham Airfield in Suffolk...

youtube film...




The German forces would have been in for a some very nasty surprises which would seem to come from nowhere, here in this C.A.R.T film you see some of the devices they would have used, check out the very nasty N0 8...

youtube film...



Fairbairn-Sykes  Fighting Knife;

I own this  Fairbairn-Sykes 3rd Pattern knife that was given to me to keep, note the cross guard has been removed, this was done by some special forces/SAS members so it could penetrate deeper inside to main organs. This knife could may have seen used for silent killing having being set up like this...

Manuals were produced for Aux members on the Art Of Guerrilla Warfare.
These were disguised as Countryman diary's and similar publications...



Many weapons issued to the Aux units were designed at The Ministry of Defence 1 (MD1) or as it was also called `Winston Churchill's Toy Shop`.
All kind of stuff was produced, from anti-tank guns to sticky bombs,  timer fuses and the No 8,


Priority;
Here is how important the Aux units were;
Absolute priority was given to the latest Arms to be issued to the Aux Units was given by Winston Churchill,
From the USA was the Thompson sub machine, which was issued before the Commandos or regular army received them. a devastating weapon...

youtube film...




The operational patrols, around 100 of them, were supported by special duty sections.
Trained to gather intelligence about German movements and leave reports in dead letter drops.
These would then be collected by runners and taken to one of more than 200 secret radio transmitters hidden in deep rural bunkers operated by civilian signals staff.

Chilling Orders;
There was pre-planned objectives for each Unit and some men were issued with sealed orders not to be opened until if the invasion happened.
This has revealed quite frightening orders,
Most Units had a .22 sniper rifle.  But it was not just for trying to execute German sentry's, tracker dogs and German Commanders who would have occupied stately homes, but also to execute members of the British public, from Nazi sympathisers or collaborators, and  in some cases Police Sergeant's as some maybe knew locations and members of Aux Units or put to and two together when people had just disappeared when the church bells rang and reprisal attacks started on the invaders...

German reprisal;
The Gestapo were highly experienced in dealing with the resistance in France and elsewhere without mercy.
They would interrogate the local police etc for any info of people that had disappeared and then interrogated their families. Reprisals would have been horrific on civilians...
Civilian men, woman and children would have been tortured or executed in an attempted that these gorilla units surrendered.
But they were trained to not give in, and to keep going until there own end.
There role was suicidal and there job was to kill as many enemy invaders as possible...


On Hitlers death wish;
Hitlers `Black Book` was a list of influential British people who were to be executed immediately upon German occupation of Britain.
It is said the Post Mistress Mrs Mabel Stranks name was in the book, if so then German intelligence knew something was going on at Coleshill. So was she?
This is a long film from 2006, but it features the story of the Post Mistress Mrs Mabel Stranks...

youtube film...



Today;
Thanks to lottery funding and the hard work of volunteers there is now an official Organisation documenting this once secret army,
The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (C.A.R.T) website has now been on line since June 2011 and is weekly updated with new evidence as it comes to light of this Army's existence which has mostly been kept quiet by its surviving members since the dark days of 1940...


Bringing the past to life;
A NEW film sheds light on a secret army assembled by Churchill that would have fought to the death against German troops if this country had fallen under Nazi occupation.
It is based on a haunting novel called Resistance by Owen Sheers and is
set in 1944.
The D-Day landings have just failed and the Germans have invaded Britain.
Much of the new film is set in a remote valley in the Black Mountains of Wales...

youtube film...



1944;
The auxiliary units were stood down in November 1944 after the tide turned with the success of the Allied D Day landings.
Many of the Aux members went on to join Commando Units and the famous British Regiment the SAS, formed by Scotsman David Stirling.

The Aux Units comprised of normal men who volunteered to do a job which was if we had been invaded was a one way ticket. Trained to become some of the toughest, hardest fighting men, transformed from country men into fighters due to an invasion threat which thankfully never happened.
If it had these men would have been heroes, fighting there no rules warfare until there last breath...

After WW2 until today;
Most members have lived with their secret and kept a 70 year silence.
Telling no one of their underground army as decreed by the Official Secrets Act.
Information has started to come to light as many have passed away and relatives have found documents revealing these men's part that was to be played for there country's freedom if we had been invaded in 1940....

Here is what a WW2 Aux Unit base that can be found may look like today...

youtube film...





An Auxiliary beer has been launched to help raise money for C.A.R.T!...


And there is an Aux Unit reenactment group, and there is some good detail here of the OB and Radio bases (RB) which supplied information to the patrols...

youtube film...



Have a look at the C.A.R.T website for more information on this once secret of Britain;www.coleshillhouse.com

A good read on the Aux Units is this book by John Warwicker...

There were 21 Aux Units bases along the Scottish  Borders, i have visited a few...
I find the subject fascinating and in awe at what normal people were prepared to do for there country if the time had come...

Aux Units here in East Lothian;

East Lothian had 2 Aux Units,
2 Patrols of ordinary people here in our county were involved, sworn to secret, and trained to do a suicidal job of sabotage and killing an invading force here in East Lothian ...
Men that you may have known in their later years as regular retired pensioners enjoying a pint in one of our local pubs or at the bowling club etc...

There was an East Linton Patrol whose base was only a 1/2 mile from my house.
And a Dunbar patrol,

And the radio base was at East Linton,
Sadly both Aux bases are gone now as are the East Linton Patrol members who have passed away...
This interview was made a few years ago of some the East Linton Patrol members,
Charles Spence was the last East Linton Aux Units member to pass away in 2012,
I remember as a kid going with my dad to pick up an injured owl at his house at Biel, and later dad telling me George was once a member of an army sabotage unit during WW2 created for if we had been invaded,
It would be years later now i found out what this unit was...



You can read more about these patrols here on the East Lothian at War Website; Link...
Fascinating story of ordinary people trained and prepared to do extraordinary things ...

Thankfully all this never occurred...


More soon...

Tyninghame Links Wood; Evening cycle...


Making the most of the late woodland growth on the ground and dry sandy trails i headed down to Tyninghame and an hour spin around Links Wood.  The Winter series Hare and Hound Motorcycle Enduro series track is being flattened, passed the lad levelling the track and ruts in a small excavator and the flattened surface is good for Fatbikes!...


Signs of spring, Primrose...



I like this old gate latch,




Back onto one of the paths and through the blocks...




Last burst of energy before heading to the van and home from a busy day...




Pics are all stills from the Go Pro, here is the film i edited up,
Song is `Servo` by The brian Jonestown Massacre


Surly Pugsley; Tyninghame Woods Cycle;  April 24 2018 from coastkid71 on Vimeo.


More soon...

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Woods Cycle to the Coast...



On with the week at work and after finishing time i parked up at Aberlady and went a ride in the woods where i played as a kid growing up here at Craigielaw.
The woods are late this spring opening leaves and growth on the ground is minimum, so still ideal for cycling being dry here with the sandy loam soil...



Burst of energy!...


Onto Shell Bay at Greencraigs and no one around, that 5 o'clock magic time...



Low tide was two hours ago, although windy the sand had not dried out enough to start blowing as i peddled out to the Crab Isle...



It`s (local?) name as these rocks submerged at high tides is where we used to catch crabs as kids...


Back across the sand and over the rocks to Greencraigs to get back into the woods as spots of rain started from the dark clouds that had been looming south of Edinburgh had been getting nearer all afternoon...



Through the woods and onto the JMW and back to the van just in time as the rain came on!...



An hour cycle and film in the bag and off home for 6pm, last pic is of the farm road to Craigielaw,
Used to sit on the white stone waiting on the school bus, but have happier memories learning to wheelie my Haro BMX on the farm road, with a slight rise perfect to get the rear wheel balance then more level but always slightly rising allowing the rear brake to be slightly dragged was where i honed my skills, today`s riders learn with no brakes and so can manual, something i struggle to do!,
But happy with my old school wheelies which always make me feel like a big kid...


The stills from the ride are taken from the film shot on the Go Pro camera,
Here is a wee film,
Song is `Daft Punk  Is Playing In My house` by LCD Soundsystem

Surly Pugsley; evening woods ride to the coast, from coastkid71 on Vimeo.


More soon..

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Plus Bike Cycle in the sunshine...


This is my 5th year riding with plus wheels, what are plus wheels?,
29+ came first starting with 29" wheel rims that were 50mm wide with a tyre 3" wide, a kind of half way/mid fat set up,  a bit too floaty for serious fast berm bashing mountain biking, but ideal for comfortable off road cycling, favoured  as a 2nd wheel set for a Fatbike to make it lighter, faster and easier work away from the real soft stuff. A lot of folks like them on ridged bikes to add a bit more comfort while maintaining a low maintenance bike without the hassle of suspension needing serviced etc...
Some Fatbikes will not fit this 29+ size wheel and tyre, that problem was answered when 27.5"  (the now standard MTB wheel diameter) came out in + width with again 3" tyres,

Brian's On One Fatty has this size. Craig and i run 29+, Mark had a dedicated 29+ Niner,
I have already owned both the Surly Krampus and ECR 29+ frame sets but prefer my Surly Wednesday Fatbike with the + wheel option - two bikes in one...

I also have a 27.5+ wheel set for the Wednesday but prefer the larger 29" cartwheels for xc riding, not sure what i will do with them yet, but that's another story...

On with today's ride and it was a stunning third day of warm sunshine, crack open the sunblock!...

First off road was around Seacliff and along to Schoughall farm...



Flat calm you could hear boats miles out in the Forth Estuary...




Fields everywhere are being cultivated and sown the last few days as farmers get busy catching up,
Potato's here...









At Willowbrae Point i spied this line over the rocks, previously unridden, Mark had a go, then i, it would take 3 attempts to clean it!, bit tricky riding this clipped in!...


Craig filmed it with my Go Pro, looks flat in the film as always, but it was real tricky...


Surly Wednesday 29  Rock Crawling from coastkid71 on Vimeo.


Along the secret trail, prob be the last ride here with sunlight  through the trees before the tree canopy darkens the wood in the next week or so as everything is starting to open out and blossom...



Tyninghame cafe and sat in the warm sun and refreshing rolls...






Here is film shot of the ride with friends,
Song is `Cello Man` by Nick Drake


+Bike Trailride; April 21st 2018 from coastkid71 on Vimeo.


I split to ride back to NB via the JMW to the van as i was heading up for a flight in the Bi Plane again,
And what a day for it! perfect blue skies with light clouds...




Back in NB and it was now mobbed being a glorious hot day, if you were here an hour later around 5pm and saw a Bi plane fly round the harbour and the Law  then on to Tantallon i was in it!
Totally amazing experience vintage flying, there is nothing quite like it!...


More soon...