Braunton Patrol

A.K.A. (nickname)
Seymour
Locality

Braunton is a village 5 miles west of Barnstaple in North Devon.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant George Edward Martin

Tractor driver

12 Aug 1941 03 Dec 1944
Private Francis James Bradbeer

Gardener

01 Nov 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Geoffrey Ernest Bradford

Student

01 Jul 1944 03 Dec 1944
Private Bertie Henry Hooper

Electrical engineer

10 Jul 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick Gordon Joslin

Shoe maker

20 Jan 1943 03 Dec 1944
Private William V. Martin

Groundsman on a golf course.

22 Nov 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Thomas J. Yeo

Student

17 Sep 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Albert Reginald Yeo

Lorry driver

11 Jun 1940 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

Geoff Bradford recalled that the Operational Base at Spreacombe, north of Braunton had been compromised when American troops occupied the area for D-Day training. The metal ladder leading down had been acquired from a railway signal. The Patrol were, half-heartedly, constructing another by utilising a derelict underground farm structure where the stone walls were in good condition and which only required roofing. The project was abandoned shortly before stand down.

Bertie Hooper took some friends to show them where their Operational Base was. It was off the Ilfracombe Road towards Spreacombe in a field on the left hand side. The farmer had ploughed over the entrance although there was a visible mound there.

OB Status
Location not known
OB accessibility
This OB is on private land. Please do not be tempted to trespass to see it
Location

Braunton Patrol

Patrol Targets

Many Auxiliers from Group 1 have recounted the story of a practice raid on RAF Chivenor. Braunton Patrol took boats up the River Taw and landed on the coastal side. Time delay switches were placed and primed and some of the men went to the front gate and demanded to be taken prisoner. They were being ridiculed by the defending forces when the devices blew up.

Local targets would have included the Southern Railway and the A361.

Training

In his memoirs Bert Verney (Tawstock) recalled he trained with 4 Patrols in Group 1.

Weapons and Equipment

Unknown but it is assumed they had access to the standard kit, arms and explosives.

Geoff Bradford recalled he kept some explosives under bed his bed. He was issued with a Smith & Wesson.38. He recalled the Patrol had a single, silenced high-velocity rifle while he was in the Patrol. It wasn't very popular as the telescopic sight that soon went out of adjustment. The regular rifles were fitted with a "cup-discharger" for firing Mills grenades. Again this wasn't popular. All the Patrol had and wore their Fairburn Sykes fighting knives buttoned just above the knee.

He was told to use time pencils in pairs as were often unreliable. One Auxilier threw a sticky bomb which stuck to his trousers causing him to undress rather quickly.

Many Auxiliers retained what they could in respect of equipment. When Victory in Europe day came, Geoff Bradford's "souvenirs" were becoming an embarrassment. A large bonfire had been constructed in the town to celebrate. This was guarded by Council workmen to prevent vandals setting far to it before celebrations could commence. Bradford and an unknown comrade decided on a final act of sabotage. An incendiary device, hidden in a newspaper was surreptitiously inserted in the heart of the bonfire with the hope it would go off in the middle of the Mayor's speech. Such devices were notoriously unreliable but it did produce a brilliant white fire !

Other information

The Patrol had the code name "Seymour".

References

TNA ref WO199/3391

Hancock data held at B.R.A

1939 register

The late Auxilier Bert Verney from his book “Reflections – A trilogy of memories” ISBN 1 874448 20 5

The late Auxilier Geoff Bradford.

Angie Squeira, daughter of the late Auxilier Bertie Hooper

John Bradbeer, nephew of Auxilier Francis Bradbeer

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