Cheddar is a large village in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset. It is situated on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, 9 miles north-west of Wells.
|Sergeant Arthur Herbert Pavey||
Plumber & decorator
|24 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Corporal Reginald Henry Chew||
Fitter motor works
|22 Jul 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Kenneth Percival V. Channon||19 Jun 1940||03 Sep 1942|
|Private Kenneth Frederick Frape||
Wholesale drapery salesman
|09 Nov 1942||03 Dec 1944|
|Private John Douglas Hewlett||
Farm work assisting Uncle
|14 Oct 1941||11 Feb 1943|
|Private Phillip Lionel Leigh||
|16 Aug 1941||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Brian Albert Painter||05 Nov 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Arthur George Parsons||
|10 Jan 1941||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Ronald Thorner||
|31 Jul 1942||03 Dec 1944|
|Private John Tunstall||
|27 Jul 1940||03 Dec 1944|
The Patrol first chose a cave on the hill near Axbridge, but on their first night there they found themselves watched by a group of children, so had to move elsewhere.
The new site was in a limestone cave, Great Oone's Hole. They built up the front entrance with stones and ivy and built a trapdoor, disguised with grass on top. Inside they built bunks with wire mesh and a galvanised cupboard for wet clothes. There was an oil stove and a biscuit tin oven. Arthur Pavey set up a water tank on a frame to catch the dips from the limestone ceiling so they had a supply. A pipe brought the water down to a tap. To access the OB it was necessary to climb down from above.
Arthur Parsons recalled that their OB was linked by field telephone to their Observation Post on the top of the gorge, the cable carefully buried.
Arthur Parsons on the OB: "We decided between ourselves we had to find somewhere. We went up the gorge and started digging, under the rock. And as we were up there, some kids come along. And then we said we aren't going to stay here, we'll have to find somewhere else. And then somebody decided about this cave, Great Oone's, oh, marvellous place it were, just what we wanted. We built the front of the cave up with stones and ivy and a trapdoor with grass for to lift up and go down in. We did it ourselves at nights. We built some bunks in there with wire netting and a place with Jack's galvanised for airing wet clothes. Then they decided what would happen if they got cut off. How would we live. Up on the hill, get some swedes and turnips, catch a few rabbits and have a stew up like. We had an oil stove and an oven like a biscuit tin for to go on top of the stove. Art Pavey would say “We’ve got a delivery tonight” and we’d go there about 7pm and carry it up. The hardest work I think was climbing up over to the cave. The Army brought it up from Taunton. Always at night. All the stuff we buried underneath the rocks, on the side, cause it had a dirt and stone floor in there. We had gelignite and time pencils and pull switches, Molotov cocktails they were brought, like bottles of milk, that were the phosphorus ones, and we had sticky bombs. The Gelignite was moved out and back about once a month to help stop it getting sweaty. We went up every night, Usually two of us to make sure everything was alright and probably stay the night and the next night somebody else would go up. Once a week we would all go and stay. We had a telephone from inside the cave and buried the wire all up onto the top of the gorge and in case of emergency we would send a man up on top. Our orders were when the church bells started ringing we had to disappear. No code word. You didn’t go home, you just went straight to the base".
Jack Chew on the OB: "We had to try and find a place for a base. We tried in Axbridge. There was a cave at the side of the hill at Axbridge and twasn't very successful. We started thinking what we would do and the first night we were there some kids came up and started playing around so that was out. Under Axbridge Hill. Then we got a place up the Gorge, Great Oone's Hole. We camouflaged the front of it with mud and rocks and trees and things. We got told off. It was something to do with temperature in the caves, the air came through there and we had blocked it off. We had to pull it all done and leave it as it was. Anyway it was pretty secret as nobody would climb up there ordinarily. Art Pavey was a plumber and we fixed up a tank, made a tank to put this tank on and he had a pipe coming down with a tap on.
We had an airing cupboard with an oil heater to put our coats on. We had a phone from a look out at the top, looked down across the moors. We had bunks but no cooker because we didn't stay there. We had billy cans and all that ready. You can just imagine us boys taking those ammunition boxes, you now what they were like, on your shoulder. The telephone wire wasn't buried, just run amongst the ivy. There wasn't a trap door on the cave, Art Parsons must be getting mixed up with the airing cupboard".
The Patrol went to the OB once a week to stay for a night, though normally a couple of men would visit each day to check on it.
From a hand written note by Arthur Parsons:
"Training for explosives was located at a disused quarry where many new things were tested for demolition of enemy transport and bridges, should the need arise railways as well."
Jack Chew described the same, giving the location as Winscombe Quarry, with one of the targets being the railway for the stone trucks. They were taught to walk away slowly from the demolition charge, but overestimated the charge needed and found the rail flying over their head.
Arthur Parson also described training to his grandson James - with Sten guns, wire-garotte and the removal of a sentry using the lip of their own steel helmet. On training: “The Cheddar men used to train in Crowcathpole Quarry, Shipham Hill, Cheddar Gorge and Dolebury Warren, all explosives and that. We enjoyed it. We used to get tired mind. A couple of weekends we went up to Cranmore, there was a place up there, a big estate, and while we were there, they just had some chaps come back from Dunkirk and you've never seen nothing like it in your life. They were plastered in mud, dead on their feet and in the finish they were walking about and you'd think they were prisoners of war, you wouldn't think they were our troops. About two days after, you wouldn't know them. At Cranmore it was more or less bookwork, lectures. From officers. We went up there twice. Arthur’s memories of IO Ian Fenwick: “ he was a mad bugger. Used to chuck live explosives around to make you move”.
From a hand written note by Arthur Parsons:
Firearms were .38 Colt revolvers, 1 each
Browning (B.A.R.) machine guns 2
Lee Enfield rifles 4
Pressure and Pull switches for detonation purposes
All ammunition and stores were kept in the OB. Inspected every night by the unit
The Patrol were issued with the standard kit, although it is a little unusual in that this Patrol had two B.A.R.'s (Browning Automatic Rifles - light machine gun).
Kenneth Newcomb who knew Jack Chew in 1942, recalled he had a rifle in the kitchen annexe and a pistol. His son recalled Molotov Cocktails stored under the children's beds, though Jack says this was before the base was built. He had two boxes of phosphorus bombs (likely the "Molotov Cocktails"), hand grenades and a box of .303 bullets for his rifle. He also had a knife and knuckle duster, as well as his revolver and ammunition at home
Jack Chew recalled how Arthur Pavey, Arthur Parsons, Phil Leigh, John Hewlett and a couple of others were asked to a meeting in the Cliff Hotel where they volunteered for a special secret duty. Arthur Parsons recalled Lieutenant Butcher (Home Guard) from Battscombe Quarry asked for volunteers for special duties. Arthur and Jack Chew went along. “We were all transferred to Mr Radford in Axbridge. He was our Captain. The first meeting we had was a Art Pavey’s woodwork place where he used to make his doors and that. Of cause young and stupid we put our hands up”
TNA ref WO199/3390 & WO199/3391
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Hazel & James Gould, daughter and grandson of Auxilier Arthur Parsons: personal communication.
Somerset v Hitler, Donald Brown