Cockburnspath Patrol

Locality

The coastal village of Cockburnspath is situated between Dunbar and Eyemouth.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant A. M. Bell 1941 1944
Private R. Denholm 1941 1944
Private W. Edgar 1941 1944
Private M. Glen 1941 1944
Operational Base (OB)

The Patrol OB was an "Elephant" type shelter built on the hillside above the east coast main railway line, close to the old Penmanshiel Tunnel and the signal box that has now gone.

It is in a large forested area, Penmanshiel Wood. It is now on Forestry Commission land and the site fenced around for safety. It was possible to get into the O.B a few years ago and it was almost complete.

There are some wires that run along the air vents presumably these lead to an Observational Post which has not been found.

Patrol & OB pictures
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath OB escape tunnel now blocked. James Towill
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath OB site fenced off. James Towill
OB Image
Caption & credit
An item found in the OB. It is a Voiding gauge as used on the railway.
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit OB escape tunnel
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit OB - small bottle found in the OB possibly an ink bottle.
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit OB fenced off
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit OB entrance showing rungs
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit OB main chamber
OB Image
Caption & credit
Cockburnspath Auxiliary Unit OB main chamber
OB Status
Largely intact
OB accessibility
The OB site is publicly accessible
Location

Cockburnspath Patrol

Patrol Targets

Local targets would have included the A1 main England to Scotland road which passes near the OB site, the East Coast main railway line and the harbours at St. Abbs and Eyemouth both allowing access from the coast and a way up the large cliffs in the area.

Military targets would have included Cockburnspath Chain Home Radar site, RAF Coldingham which was a large holding area for RAF staff and RAF Drone Hill.

 

Training

Training was done locally, the area is sparsely populated and the Patrol would have had plenty of opportunities to practice with explosives etc. without fear of being discovered.

They also trained at Monksford House stables, the Auxiliary Units H.Q for the area and with the army at Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland.

Some members went to Coleshill House but this stopped during 1942 as it was deemed that the travel south and back took up too much of the Auxiliar's time. It was decided to send out written and practical tests for the members to take under the eye of the Intelligence Officer or Group Commanding Officer.

Also used was Melville House near Cupar in Fife. 

Weapons and Equipment

The usual Auxiliary kit sent out in a crate and issued by the Intelligence Officer. These contained explosives, time pencils and various switches.  Fuse wire and crimper. Grenades and 0.22 Sniper rifle. Pistols and Tommy guns as available the later were replaced with Sten guns.

Other information

An item found in the OB is a Voiding gauge as used on the railway. There would have been a wooden flat base that you slid under the rail and pushed up the short arm of the pointer until it touched the bottom side of the rail. When a train passed over the pointer would move and stay in place showing how much packing of the ballast was required to obtain a smooth ride. Totally non-military.

References

The National Archives in Kew ref WO199/3388

Hancock data held at B.R.A

James T. M. Towill for the original leg work and photos 2013

Captain Peter Forbes