Bishopstone Patrol

A.K.A. (nickname)
Badger 1
County Group

Bishopstone is a village located along a dead-end road west of Seaford, East Sussex.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Lionel Harry Mawe Willett B.E.M


09 Aug 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Reginald Jonathan Clark

Farm carter

07 Mar 1941 03 Dec 1944
Private Daniel Leslie Paul


24 May 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Frank Percival Turner

Farm labourer

09 Aug 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick White

Farm worker and stockman

09 Aug 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Cyril Edward Woolmer

Farm worker and tractor driver

14 Nov 1941 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

The Patrol had two OBs. One on Sergeant Willett's Farm, at Bishopstone Manor Farm, was built out of railway sleepers and corrugated iron sheeting inside the end of the New Barn. The whole structure was covered with coal. Coal was needed for steam powered machinery so a pile of coal in the barn did not look out of place. There were bunk beds inside and an emergency exit was a tunnel, dug under the barn wall to the surface the other side.

The other OB was inside a large disused water storage tank that adjoined a ruined barn on Hobb's Heath near to Rathfinny Farm. When the lid of the tank was lifted it revealed a secondary trough that made the tank look like it was full of rubble. This could be slid to one side to reveal a thin but 50ft long tank, accessed by a ladder, which contained bunks, ammunition and explosives.

An OP was 200 yards to the west of the tank. It was only big enough for one person. Dug into the side of a hill it was a concealed entrance down into a crawl tunnel an up into a old oil drum. There was a commanding view of the valley down to Alfriston.

It was recalled that telephone lines joined the two OBs together with the OP and to Manor Farm house. It is also recalled all were booby trapped with a pressure switch.

Due to the discovery and ransacking of the Firle Patrol OB by Canadian soldiers on several occasions in 1942 their OB was abandoned. The Firle Patrol then shared the Bishopstone OBs from August 1942.

Patrol & OB pictures
OB Image
Caption & credit
Bridleway heading down to the Comp
OB Status
Location not known
OB accessibility
This OB is on private land. Please do not be tempted to trespass to see it

Bishopstone Patrol


Bill Webber, the Firle Patrol Leader, kept a diary of his Patrol's movements during their operational years. Although the entries are brief it gives a detailed account of their training, visits to Coleshill House and Tottington Manor, inter-Patrol competitions and interactions with neighbouring Patrols.

The evening of 22 October 1941 saw the Patrol practicing in the FirIe area. An attack was also made on the Firle OB by neighbouring Bishopstone Patrol. This exercise lasted five hours between 1800 and 2300 hours.

A combined Patrol operation was held on 29 October 1941 with both Firle and Bishopstone Patrols at full strength. This involved an attack on a Canadian guard hut at Bishopstone. It lasted six hours between 1900 and 0130 hours. At this point it is worth remembering that all the Patrol members had to do their daytime jobs as well as these night training sessions which lasted for many hours at a time.

On 29 November 1941 an inter-Patrol competition was held at Bishopstone. Competing were members of the Bishopstone, Cooksbridge, Ringmer and Abbots Wood Patrols. The events included Mills bomb throwing, pistol, rifle and Thompson sub-machine gun target shooting; and a night patrol efficiency test. Cooksbridge Patrol came first with 84 points, Bishopstone second with 81 points, Abbots Wood third with 55 points, and Ringmer last with 43 points.

On 10 December 1941 FirIe and Bishopstone Patrols started practising map reading.

Captain Bond gave a lecture at Bishopstone on 15 April 1942 about using and concealing knives. By 23 April this was being put into practice. The Patrol attacked a sentry with the object of killing him silently with a knife. This operation lasted from 2000 to 2200 hours.

On the days 28 June, 2 July and 5 July, 1942, the Patrol trained for the forthcoming competition. The competition was held on the 12 July at Mary's Farm, Falmer. The Cooksbridge Patrol won. Bishopstone and FirIe finished third after leading. They lost valuable points on the last event called a 'relay'. This involved each man running at a target, while firing a Sten gun at the same time. Out of a possible 40 points they only gained 10. This put them into third place. After the competition they were introduced to Captain Bond's replacement Captain Benson.

On 30 September 1942 Captain Benson visited the Bishopstone Patrol. He was very impressed with the OP  and OB. While Sergeant Lionel Willett showed the Captain around, Firle Patrol, led by Bill Webber, stalked and waylaid them.

12 October 1942 saw both the Bishopstone and Firle Patrols completing an explosives practical. Both used a standard charge (80z of gelignite) and both charges went off successfully.

Bishopstone Patrol was visited on 29 October 1942 by the Commander, Colonel F W R Douglas from Coleshill House. The Commander later gave an address to Patrol Leaders at Hailsham.

On 22 November 1942 a meeting of Patrol Leaders from all over Sussex was held at Tottington Manor. Captain Benson laid down a training programme for greater efficiency and to forestall any staleness that might be affecting the Patrols.

On 1 December 1942 the Firle and Bishopstone Patrols had a lecture on the prismatic compass at Bishopstone. After this lecture much more map and compass work was undertaken.

On 29 December 1942 Bill Webber (Firle) and John Willett (Sergeant Lionel Willet's son) attempted to cross the River Ouse in a rubber dinghy. Both men were thrown into the water when the craft suddenly turned over. They were both in full kit and the water was very cold! The exercise took place between 1830 and 2100 hours.

A weekend training course took place at Coleshill House from 8 January to 10 January 1943. This was the second time Bill Webber had been to Coleshill.  He was accompanied by Bishopstone Auxiliers Jack Clark and Charlie Woolmer.


TNA reference WO199/3391

Hancock data held at B.R.A

1939 Register

'The Secret Sussex Resistance' by Stewart Angell

Sergeant Bill Webber's diary