On 2 July 1940 Winston Churchill and the War Cabinet stated that:-
“The regular defences require supplementing with guerrilla type troops, who will allow themselves to be overrun and who thereafter will be responsible for hitting the enemy in the comparatively soft spots behind zones of concentrated attack”
Winston Churchill to Anthony Eden, 25th September 1940 stated:
“I have been following with much interest the growth and development of the new Guerrilla formations…...known as ‘Auxiliary Units’. From what I hear these units are being organised with thoroughness and imagination and should, in the event of invasion, prove a useful addition to the regular forces”.
Following the evacuation of British Army (BEF) land troops from Dunkirk, it became obvious that Britain had been rendered almost defenceless. This was due to the heavy losses of ammunition, artillery vehicles and equipment seized by the Germans. Given the rapid advances of the Germans through France, it became abundantly clear that Great Britain was under great threat of invasion. Hasty plans were therefore drawn up to resist any such attack.
The British High Command quickly analysed enemy's tactics, appreciating that the only way to overcome them was to deny mobility of the attacker and to disrupt his vital supply lines.
The guerrilla type troops Churchill described became known as the GHQ Auxiliary Units or British Resistance Organisation. Colonel Colin McVean Gubbins (Commanding Officer Royal Artillery), was selected to establish a network of civilian saboteurs to attack invading German forces from behind their lines.
The Auxiliary Units were the first such organisation of its kind in existence in Europe. The formation of the units was executed using utmost secrecy. This secrecy would be fiercely protected during the existence of the Units and after stand down in 1944.
In July 1940 Gubbins recruited about a dozen regional Captains as Intelligence Officers who would form the backbone of the newly created Auxiliary Units. Their mission was to find 30 or so reliable men and issue them with an assortment of explosives, weapons and vital supplies. These men became known as ‘dump owners’. The IO’s were to help the ‘dump owners’ to form cells of 5 or 6 men, to train them in the use of weapons and to provide the cells with some form of hideout. The high command HQ was located at Coleshill House near Swindon and this is where intensive training was undertaken.
The Auxiliary Units were specially trained highly secret units created with the aim of resisting the expected invasion of the British Isles by Nazi Germany during World War II. Having had the advantage of seeing the fall of several continental nations, Britain was the only country during the war that was able to create such a resistance movement in advance of an invasion.
Auxiliary Re-Enactors at a house (Copyright N. Marshall)
The 'combat units' were the Operational Patrols, but these were supported by Special Duty Sections, from the local civilian population. This group acted as the spotters for the action teams. In addition, a signals structure would attempt to link the isolated bands into a national network that could act in concert, on behalf of a British government-in-exile and its representatives still in the British Isles.
Some tales attach to the Auxiliary Units, of varying degrees of credibility. Members were supposedly vetted by a senior local police chief who was allegedly, according to sealed orders given to the Operational Patrols to be opened only in case of invasion, to be assassinated to prevent the membership of the Auxiliary Units being revealed.
The Auxiliary Units were kept in being long after any immediate Nazi threat had passed and were stood down only in 1944. Several of the members of this generation were thus released to join the Special Air Service Regiments, which were recruiting hard, in readiness for their role during the forthcoming invasion. Many men saw action in the vicious campaign in France in late 1944.
The units' existence did not generally become known by the public until the 1990s, though a book on the subject was published in 1968.
Special Duty Sections
The Special Duty Sections were largely recruited from the civilian population, with around 4,000 members. They had been trained to identify vehicles, high-ranking officers and military units, and were to gather intelligence and leave reports in dead letter drops. The reports would be collected by runners and taken to one of over 200 secret radio transmitters operated by trained civilian Signals staff.
Operational Patrols consisted of between 4 and 8 men, often farmers or landowners and usually recruited from the most able members of the Home Guard, who also needed an excellent local knowledge and the ability to live off the land. As cover, the men were allocated to "Home Guard" battalions and provided with Home Guard uniforms, though they were not actually Home Guard units. Around 3,500 such men were trained on weekend courses at Coleshill House near Highworth, Wiltshire, in the arts of guerrilla warfare including assassination, unarmed combat, demolition and sabotage.
Each Patrol was a self-contained cell, expected to be self-sufficient and operationally autonomous in the case of invasion, generally operating within a 15-mile radius. They were provided with a concealed underground Operational Base (OB), usually built by the Royal Engineers in a local woodland, with a camouflaged entrance and emergency escape tunnel; it is thought that 400 to 500 such OBs were constructed. Some Patrols had an additional concealed Observation Post. Patrols were also provided with a selection of the latest weapons including a silenced pistol or Sten and Fairbairn-Sykes "commando" knives, quantities of plastic explosive, incendiary devices, and food to last for two weeks. It was not expected that they would survive for longer. Members anticipated being shot if they were captured, and were expected to shoot themselves first rather than be taken alive.
The mission of the units was to attack invading forces from behind their own lines while conventional forces fell back to the last-ditch GHQ Line. Aircraft, fuel dumps, railway lines, and depots were high on the list of targets, as were senior German officers. Patrols secretly reconnoitred local country houses, which might be used by German officers, in preparation.
In April 1945, when the war in Europe was drawing to a close, the War Office announced to the Press that a Resistance organisation had existed in Britain since 1940, and Sir Harold Franklyn's message of thanks to the men and women who would have been the Auxiliary Units Special Duties Section's spies was published in The Times on Saturday, 14 April 1945:
I realise that every member of the organisation from the first invasion days beginning in 1940 voluntarily undertook a hazardous role which required both skill and courage well knowing that the very nature of their work would allow of no public recognition. This organisation, founded on the keenness and patriotism of selected civilians of all grades, has been in a position, through its constant and thorough training, to furnish accurate information of raids or invasion instantly to military headquarters throughout the country. See the full letter below.
The Times, Saturday, Apr 14, 1945
The Times, Monday, Jul 09, 1945
Both articles are published with full written permission of The Times Newspaper, London.
The Times pointed out that the organisation was so secret that most of the members did not know one another, that it came into being before France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark or Norway had Resistance organisations of their own-and that the whole thing was run by '300 specially picked officers of the Army Special Duties Branch'.
The popular Fleet Street newspapers also carried the story, and their reporters embellished it, among other things claiming that the Resistance was really a skeleton force that was intended to raise little private armies all over the country, and that its weapons even included 3.7-inch anti-aircraft guns.
Stand Down text taken from The Last Ditch by David Lampe, Cassell (1968)
Training the Auxiliary Units
The aim of the guerrilla must be to develop their inherent advantages so as to nullify those of the enemy. The principles of this type of warfare are therefore:-
(a) Surprise first and foremost, by finding out the enemy's plans and concealing your own intentions and movements.
(b) Never undertake an operation unless certain of success owing to careful planning and good information. Break off the action when it becomes too risky to continue.
(c) Ensure that a secure line of retreat is always available.
(d) Choose areas and localities for action where your mobility will be superior to that of the enemy, owing to better knowledge of the country, lighter equipment, etc.
(e) Confine all movements as much as possible to the hours of darkness.
(f) Never engage in a pitched battle unless in overwhelming strength and thus sure of success.
(g) Avoid being pinned down in a battle by the enemy's superior forces or armament; break off the action before such a situation can develop.
(h) Retain the initiative at all costs by redoubling activities when the enemy commences counter-measures,
(i) When the time for action comes, act with the greatest boldness and audacity. The partisan's motto is Valiant but Vigilant
. Coleshill House, near the town of Highworth and less than ten miles from the railway station at Swindon, was in most respects an ideal location, remote from the point of likely enemy invasion and with plenty of space for operational training.
The plan was to develop the estate as a training area for Auxiliers. Dummy tanks and aircraft, damaged beyond repair, and enemy transport - some real, others simulated - were dispersed in the grounds and a massive collection of firearms assembled, a number of which were German, as well as booby traps and explosives. Demonstration OBs were dug - one is still there. Classes were prepared in close combat, map reading, stealth, night cross-country movement, the use of firearms and grenades, and camouflage. In due course, competitions were prepared. At first, officers responsible for training had to commute from London for the weekend - the only time their students, the Auxiliers, could conveniently absent themselves from work. It is generally accepted that Coleshill was a quiet place during the week and seriously noisy at weekends.
Water Pump, Coleshill Estate, Oxfordshire.
This pump has long been disused for its original purpose. However, during the second world war it served as a disguise for a secret entrance to an underground bunker used by the Auxiliary Units that would have acted as a resistance movement against German invaders, had there been any. The buildings beyond were used as offices during the war by the controllers of the national headquarters of the Auxiliary Units.
Auxiliary Units were given high priority in the provision of patrol weapons and explosive devices. Personal weapons were, with some exceptions, intended for defence rather than offence, as in no way was it proposed that they should fight pitched battles with superior forces but rather should avoid direct confrontation, killing only when necessary to achieve surprise or to affect material damage on the enemy's supply lines or stores. Explosives were to be the main offensive weapons of the Auxiliary Units, whose role was to attack the enemy's stores, transport and communications rather than his ground troops. But given the right sort of combustible target, a properly placed incendiary could do as much, if not more, damage to an enemy's stores and supplies as an explosive, and the Auxiliary Units were supplied with a variety of equipment for this purpose, which could be used, either on its own or in conjunction with explosives for greater effect. Every Auxiliary received training in the basic principles of making and using explosive and incendiary devices.
Thus patrols and individual Auxiliaries were sent to Coleshill for training in the use of explosives, sabotage, booby-traps and unarmed combat.
Initial training was given, either at Coleshill House or locally, by the Regular Army support troops, and such knowledge was passed on, largely by word of mouth, and in the interests of security, no written training manuals were prepared.
Unarmed training included: Attacks, Defences and Releases; Frontal Holds; Wrist Releases; Arm Locks and Breaks; The Cross Buttock throw; Waist Holds; Strangleholds; Sentry Stalking; Ground Holds.
The course went into detail on the value of the edge of a steel helmet, heel or toecaps - even just a matchbox - as aids to defence or attack.
The objectives were limb breaks, dislocation and wounds, or complete disablement of an enemy soldier.
THE AUXILIARY UNIT OPERATIONAL BASE
Officially they were known as 'operational bases'. The word 'hideout', the officers who ran the Resistance soon decided, suggested a more passive purpose than that for which these bases had been constructed, and if overheard by the Germans or their friends, would not alert them to their intended use.
Auxiliary Units hideouts were supposed to be merely the places to which Resistance men could withdraw to eat, sleep and lie low. However, some of the first hideouts in Kent appear to have been built with sieges in mind, for they had their own early-warning outposts several hundred yards away, connected to them by hidden telephone wires. And several of the hideouts in Kent were, like the one entered through the sheep trough, built primarily as lookout points.
By the end of 1940 about 300 hideouts were already in use around the country, and another 61 were ready by the spring of 1941. There were some 534 by the end of that year, and although no later figures are available, upwards of a thousand existed at the time that the Auxiliary Units patrols were disbanded. No two were identical, but most were eventually made large enough to house six or seven men in reasonable comfort, although many at first were little more than fox-holes with log roofs, so badly ventilated that candles sputtered from lack of oxygen and the men who tried sleeping in them all night awoke with headaches.
Each hideout was eventually fitted with bunks, cooking stoves, Tilley lamps and other comforts provided by the Army, and each was stocked with food and water-in some cases sufficient to sustain a patrol for as long as a month. Wherever dampness was a problem the tinned foods were frequently replaced so that there was never a chance of besieged Auxiliary Units patrols being finished off by food poisoning. Most hideouts had plenty of room for the patrols' arms, ammunition and sabotage material, but in some areas subsidiary hides were dug near by to hold these and additional stores of food. Many of the hideouts eventually had chemical lavatories, and a few even had running water and some rudimentary form of drainage. The hideouts were so well concealed that anyone walking over them would not notice that the ground beneath their feet had been hollowed out, or that it was unusual in any way. And of course the hideouts had to be made impossible to detect from the air.
Undoubtedly the greatest problem was that of digging the hideouts without anyone noticing-not even the members of neighbouring Resistance patrols. In most of the coastal areas the first hideouts had to be dug by the Resistance men themselves, stumbling around late at night and in total darkness. Incredibly, they usually managed to finish the job unnoticed, but anyone who happened across a half-completed hideout had to be fobbed off with some sort of story that would put an end to questions. The usual cover story was that the hole was being dug for the storage of emergency food supplies for a secret government department'- a story that did not make much sense at the time but did stop people asking questions and usually stopped them talking.
Another major problem which faced the men who built the hideouts was that of disposing of the subsoil which they had brought up. Carting this away in the dark was no easy task, especially when one remembers that a cubic foot of earth weighs just over a hundred pounds, and the average Resistance hideout in Britain was about twenty feet long, at least ten feet wide, and always high enough for its occupants to stand erect in it.
Many of the methods which were worked out for scattering the spoil in Kent was taken up in other counties, but each new hideout presented new problems. Sometimes the men simply scooped away topsoil in a wood, replaced it with the spoil from their hideout, covered this with the original topsoil and laboriously replanted all the undergrowth.
Resistance men for various reasons did not always dig their own hideouts. In several areas they were dug for them by members of Royal Engineer tunnelling companies or simply by ordinary sapper soldiers, and the men in the patrols dug only the entrance tunnels.
In at least one instance civilian labour had to be contracted to produce some hideouts. This happened on the Romney Marsh, where the hideouts were sited below sea-level and only experts could do the sort of concreting that would result in water-tight construction.
Flooding was a problem in other places as well. On the Essex Marshes, just west of the Blackwater, several patrols each dug and provisioned four successive hideouts, each time hoping that they had at last beaten the problem of flooding, and each time finding that they had not.
Not all the hideouts were fresh excavations. One was an enlarged badger sett on the edge of a chalk pit at Challock, seven miles south of Faversham, Kent, and another had been the cellars of Evington Manor, at Hastingleigh, near Wye, long before destroyed by fire. The members of one of Reginald Sennitt’s patrols on the Essex Marshes who suffered repeated floodings finally recalled that an isolated farmhouse on high ground in the area had a cellar which had been scaled off from the house itself for many years. And so instead of digging themselves yet another hideout, the patrol's members tunnelled from a briar bush several hundred yards from the house into the cellar which, as they had hoped, was completely dry. At no time did the two elderly women who lived in the house have any idea of what was going on down below. In Wales abandoned coal mines, forgotten even by most of the miners, were turned into excellent hideouts. Mine workings were also used as hideouts by patrols in other parts of the country-coal mines in the North-cast and, in Cornwall, abandoned tin mines nearly a quarter of a mile deep and in constant danger of caving in because their timbers were rotting, and in which echoed the angry roar of subterranean streams.
In both Cornwall and Scotland, old ice houses and ice pits were taken over and made habitable hideouts, and in the north of Scotland several 2,000-year-old Pictish dwellings were used. Known only to the shepherds, each of these underground dome- shaped rooms had to be entered through a hole in its top which was covered with a weathered stone. All these dwellings needed was a good sweeping, and after the war they were simply abandoned.
One of the most spectacular hideouts built in Kent by Peter Fleming was intended not as a base for a single patrol but was to be a collecting point for stray Resistance men on the run. It contained food, water and sleeping accommodation for about 120 people. Nor was the sheet bulk of this hideout its only unique feature. Fleming had discovered a boat-shaped depression in King's Wood, in a cleft in the hills above The Garth, about sixty feet long, thirty feet wide and thirty deep. Local people told him that this hole had been dug during the First World War as a landing place for an airship. Whether or not this was true, Fleming reasoned that the last place the Germans would look for a secret hole in the earth was underneath a well-known one. He therefore had the bottom scooped out of the airship hole, built a shelter in it, and the earth was replaced.
Any entrance into this hideout through the airship hole itself would have been conspicuous, especially after 120 people on the run had trampled a fresh path down into it. Fortunately an old footpath happened to run alongside the hole, about fifteen yards away from its rim. On the edge of this path thy dug a vertical shaft to the depth of the shelter's floor, and a low tunnel was cut between the two. The trapdoor for this entrance was a tree trunk nearly six feet high and weighing about half a ton. It was fixed into place so that when 'unlocked' it could be swung aside at the touch of a finger.
Another hideout on the North Downs in Kent had an even more ingenious method of approach. Anyone wishing to use it had first to find a marble that was hidden in some leaves near by. This then had to be inserted into what appeared to be a mousehole. The marble would roll down a pipe about twelve feet long and plop into a tin can, a signal to the men inside that they should open the trapdoor. The trap itself was concealed in the gnarled, ivy- covered roots at the base of an ancient tree.
A hideout near Woolton in Kent, just south of the junction of the Dover and Folkestone roads, was built in 1941 by a company of Welsh miners. It was entered through the false bottom of a manger against the side of a hill. Yet another in Kent was under a brickyard at Lydden, about a mile south of Margate, on a site now occupied by an industrialised housing estate. It was entered by moving away a section of what appeared to be a solid wooden wall. But the most common trapdoors on the hideouts were simply oak or elm boxes filled with a foot-thick layer of earth. Most of these trapdoors had to be lifted out, and to make this easier, many of them were mounted on steel springs that, when a hidden catch was pushed, raised the tray enough for a man to get his fingers under its rim. All along the coasts of Britain many hideouts could be entered through what appeared to be cucumber frames, often with the plants actually growing on the trapdoors. One hideout in Scremerston, in Northumberland, just south of Berwick-on-Tweed, was entered through a wood- pile; the right twig had simply to be tweaked and an entire section of the pile would slide away.
Certainly everything possible was done to keep the hideouts inconspicuous. Most were sited in woods, often where the under- growth looked so dense that even animals could not get through it. Frequently the trapdoors of the hideouts were at the edges of footpaths, so that as long as the men who used them were careful, they could remove and replace the trapdoors without ever actually stepping off the paths. To reach a hideout in a cave in Scotland, on the Bowes-Lyons estates in Berwickshire, the Resistance men had to scale a sheer cliff overhanging a river, then leap into the cave through a waterfall. Officers from Coleshill who visited this hideout were given a sumptuous dinner of fresh salmon poached from a stretch of a river where the fishing rights were owned by the King's brother-in-law.
At Manston, not far from Margate, an Auxiliary Units patrol decided to put its hideout in a man-made cave, believed to have been scooped out of the chalk in the seventeenth century by members of a religious order. To make sure that this hideout would not be discovered by the Germans, the Welsh tunnellers who made it went to the trouble of excavating an entirely new branch off one of the old passages. They concealed the room with a huge block of chalk that they mounted on rollers.
The Auxiliary Units hideouts were a major preoccupation of the men, and one by one they solved all the problems of building and maintaining the shelters. Paints were found that would resist condensation, and efficient ventilating systems, often terminating above ground in tree stumps, were devised. When several senior officers from Coleshill went to the Lincolnshire fens to inspect patrols there they were invited to stay for dinner in one of the hideouts. The officers expected a makeshift meal, probably served on packing cases full of stores, but when they slipped down through the trapdoor they were faced with a long dining table covered with a crisp damask cloth. The candles were in candelabra, and the cutlery on the table gleamed.
At the end of the war Royal Engineer demolition teams were sent around the country to destroy all the Auxiliary Units operational bases to keep them from becoming the hideouts of criminals on the run of play places where small children might easily get hurt. However, a number of the hideouts were not destroyed and, although most of them have by now caved in, leaving only rain-washed dents in the ground to mark their positions, a few still survive, mostly on private land where they are unlikely to become a nuisance.
Weapons used by the Aux Units With such a pressing need for weapons of all sorts, it is remarkable that the members of the Auxiliary Units were the first units to be armed with the Thompson sub-machinegun, which was imported from the United States, along with the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).They were also the first to get the PIAT anti-tank weapon, basically a tube with a firing mechanism and a huge spring inside it that would launch an high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) projectile up to 750 yards
When first created, many Auxiliers, particularly those in the countryside, took along their own weapons, including shotguns, and were supplied solid-shot cartridges that could put a hole in a piece of steel up to 100 yards away. Other Auxiliers took along crossbows, which, not only had the advantage of being relatively quiet, could kill just as effectively (at shorter distances) as a firearm.
One sinister weapon which was given to the members of the Auxiliary Unit patrols was a special .22 rifle - usually manufactured by BSA, Winchester or Remington. A report by Duncan Sandys to the Prime Minister in August 1940, confirmed that sniping would be in the Auxiliary Units' remit. This rifle, which was fitted with a powerful telescopic sight and a silencer, could either fire high-velocity bullets for additional lethality at extended ranges or subsonic bullets for virtual silence if the target was relatively close. The Resistance men who received these weapons were told that they were for sniping at German officers and for picking off tracker dogs before they came too near, but several members of the Resistance have admitted that they were also intended to be used on British people in their areas who they thought might collaborate with the Germans. More recently, it is thought that this rifle was to be used for the assassination of Britons that might have proved to be "loose tongued" under interrogation or know too much about who was in each Auxiliary Unit, such as the Chief Constable.
All Auxiliary Unit members were issued with pistols but not, as many of the members of the patrols believed, to use on themselves in a final moment of desperation. This was certainly not what Mr. Churchill had in mind when he pencilled in the margin of one of Colonel Gubbins’ weekly reports, “these men must have revolvers!” As a result of this, the Auxiliary Units received an upgraded status for pistols and were quickly equipped with such weapons
Each patrol was (theoretically) to have received 1 x BAR, 1 x Thompson and 2 x M1917 Enfields. As time went on, the list of small arms allocated to each patrol grew, so that in 1941, during Colonel (later Brigadier) C R Major’s command, each fully manned patrol was expected to have:
• 7 x .38in revolvers (American);
• 2 x .30in rifles (American);
• 7 x fighting knives;
• 3 x knobkerries;
• 48 x No. 36 grenades
• 3 x cases of S.T. grenades ('Sticky Bombs');
• 2 x cases of A.W. bottles (Phosphorous grenades);
• 1 x .22in rifle (silenced)
• 1 x .45in Thompson SMG (American)
• 40 x .38in pistol rounds;
• 200 x .30in rifle rounds;
• 1,000 x .45in ACP rounds for the Thompson
• 200 x .22in rounds
Close combat weapons used by the Auxiliary Unit
It was in relation to close-quarter weaponry that the Auxiliers really came into their own when the Aux Units were first created. They raided their possessions of old Boy Scout knives, over-the-counter kitchen knives and hunting knives, while in various workshops and garages, worked to produce a range of garrottes and thrust / punch weapons.
Rubber truncheons, very nearly forgotten by the War Department, having seen riot control duty in far-off lands, were also handed out to all members of a patrol, and they were issued with thick rubber-soled agricultural workers’ boots, similar to those which were later given to the Commandos. Outwardly, however, the members of the Resistance patrols managed to look to the casual observer like ordinary members of the Home Guard although they sometimes wore their battalion badges, and many of them had their uniforms slightly altered to give them greater freedom of movement.
The Auxiliary Units in Monmouthshire
In all, there were 8 Auxiliary Units or patrols as they were known, in Monmouthshire. Each had biblical names such as Jonah (Llanwern), Moses (Bassaleg), Esau (Usk), Abraham (Chepstow), Lucifer (Raglan), Jeptha (Abergavenny) and Isaac. Each patrol consisted of between 6 and 7 specially selected local men, stationed in secret Operations Bases (OB’s) across costal areas of Monmouthshire. Satellite ammunition storage bunkers were located close by.
Each unit worked in isolation but met up for group training sessions. In the event of invasion, the patrols would not have been in contact and would have worked individually in their own areas.
The Intelligence Officers for Monmouthshire region.
The IO recruited for the Monmouthshire region was Captain John Todd, a city stockbroker by trade. He was most often seen in ‘mufti’ wearing a hat with fishing flies attached. He was described by all who knew him as an eccentric country gentleman. He went under the alias Tommy Atkins and came from Llanvihangel Crucorny near Abergavenny. In Wales, he was nicknamed ‘Sweeney Todd’. We can assume that John Todd came in to set up the organisation, and then appoint a local man as permanent IO as happened in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. It is possible that John Todd was appointed by a Colonel Hughes.
The objectives of the Intelligence Officers were as follows:
• To form Auxiliary Units, selecting localities and personnel,
• To distribute and conceal the special stores (firearms, ammunition and explosives)
• To train personnel in their duties and in the use of the special stores.
• To act as liaison officers between the military Commanders and the Units
What was expected of these brave men?
In the event of a German invasion the members of Auxiliary Patrols had the following objectives:
• To blow up petrol dumps,
• To lay mines and booby traps across roads and paths and to cut railway lines.
• To blow down trees across roads to hinder German advances
• To execute if necessary any isolated German sentries who got in the way of their sabotage efforts.
• To take the life of fellow comrades if capture was inevitable.
• To hasten the death of fellow comrades should they be fatally injured
• To sabotage German water and food supplies.
• To execute collaborators if absolutely necessary.
Colin Gubbins had a nine point guerrilla creed laid down in his top secret training publication ‘The Art of Guerrilla Warfare’ The principles of this type of warfare are as follows:
a) Surprise first and foremost, by finding out the enemy’s plans and concealing your own intentions and movements
b) Never undertake an operation unless certain of success owing to careful planning and good information. Break off the action when it becomes too risky to continue.
c) Ensure that a secure line of retreat is always available
d) Choose areas and localities for action where your mobility will be superior to that of the enemy, owing to better knowledge of the country, lighter equipment, etc.
e) Confine all movements as much as possible to the hours of darkness.
f) Never engage in a pitched battle unless in overwhelming strength and thus sure of success.
g) Avoid being pinned down in a battle by the enemy’s superior forces or armament: break off the action before such a situation can develop.
h) Retain the initiative at all costs by redoubling activities when the enemy commences counter-measures.
i) When the time for action comes, act with the greatest boldness and audacity. The partisan’s motto is - Valiant but Vigilant.
Explosives and Booby Traps
In many Aux Unit areas, a plentiful supply of explosives and the accessories necessary for sabotage and booby-trapping were available from mid-July 1940. It is worth noting that a few pounds of HE in the wrong hands can destroy entire buildings and kill dozens of people – the average Aux Unit having upwards of half-a-ton. For example, Reg Sennet, the CO for the Dengie Group of Aux Patrols, gave up after waiting for twenty years for the Army to come and collect the ordnance his patrols had left behind in his milking shed after stand-down. He eventually put aside his commitments under the Official Secrets Act and told the local Police, who in turn called the Army. They retrieved:
• 14,738 rounds of ammunition;
• 1,205lbs of explosives;
• 3,742 feet of delayed action fusing;
• 930 feet of safety fuse;
• 144 time pencils;
• 1,207 L-Delay switches;
• 1,271 detonators;
• 719 booby-trap switches;
• 314 paraffin bombs;
• 131 fog signals;
• 121 smoke bombs;
• Thirty-six slabs of guncotton;
• Thirty-three time pencils and booby-trap switches attached to made-up charges