Cosham Patrol

A.K.A. (nickname)
Purbrook Patrol
County Group

Cosham is an area in the north of Portsmouth.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Donald Arthur Beaven

Dockyard apprentice 

04 Apr 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Richard Derek Akehurst 31 May 1940 05 Sep 1942
Private Peter Desmond Aylett

Dockyard apprentice

27 Sep 1941 03 Dec 1944
Private Richard Calvin Booker 15 Apr 1942 15 Mar 1944
Private Maurice Herbert Clasby

Shipwright Apprentice H M Dockyard

20 Feb 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Albert Newnham- Smith

Shoe Salesman

16 Sep 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private James Bengree Thomas 01 Jul 1944 03 Dec 1944
Private Victor James Underwood

Cost Clerk Local Authority

29 Mar 1941 03 Dec 1944
Private Alan James Williams

Evacuated Schoolboy from Portsmouth

04 Apr 1942 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

Remembered by Sergeant Bevan as being in The Downs, just inland from Portsmouth.

OB Status
Location not known

Cosham Patrol

Patrol Targets

Likely targets would have included; the railway triangle at Cosham; an intersection/hub for all rail-lines heading east-west and north-south. It cannot be stressed enough how vital this feature is for rail access along the south coast and to and from the essential deep-water port of Portsmouth Dock.

Hilsea bridges (west bridge – road; east bridge – rail), both highly likely for demolition by the Patrol. This would castrate any enemy advance into or out of Portsmouth.

Portsea Island airfield in the Hilsea area, may well have been a target, should the Germans take the island.

Other information

Don Bevan recalled; "I was Sergeant leader of the Purbrook Patrol whose OB was located in the Downs just inland from Portland.

On Saturday June 3rd 1944, one Major Clive, our liaison officer with Intelligence Corps, visited us on exercise to ask for volunteers for a special assignment. Incidentally the exercise was a debriefing on what we had observed in regular army movements which would have allowed a German spy to predict the date of D-Day. To summarise his words; 'The army is on the move. Every regular soldier is committed. There is an installation on the Isle of Wight which needs guarding. There is a small number of soldiers from the Welsh Regiment which needs supplementing. We have just heard of a possible pre-emptive strike by German paratroopers from the Brandenburg Air-bourne Division'.

The next morning I sought leave from H.M Dockyard where I was an engineering apprentice and that afternoon mustered at the car ferry port at Portsmouth. With me were two other apprentices, one from my Patrol and one from a neighbouring Patrol. The other Auxiliers came from many parts of the UK. and were drawn from over 30 trades and professions. There were quite a number from Northumberland who did not know that they were destined for the Isle of Wight. When the saw the shipping and landing craft in the harbour Spithead, they feared the worst. They had not reckoned on going to France. We duly sailed through the invasion fleet, bobbing up and down at anchor in the harbour and Spithead, waiting for the signal to sail - delayed by 24 hours as we now know. 

On arrival we were taken to the South-West coast of the Island and billeted in various empty houses waiting for us. We quickly marked out our own territory on the floor with our straw mattresses, tipped the cook and waited. 

When news broke of the Normandy landings we put ourselves in readiness for 'we knew not what'. We were not even sure of the exact location of the pumping installation. All we knew was that the most likely area of attack was the coastal strip running about 5 miles east of the Needles. Neither the Welsh Regiment or ourselves had been given any information  regarding mutual recognition. We were lucky we did not shoot each other in mistake for Germans on our nightly patrol of the cliffs. Liaison took place in the pub. 

During the day we practiced Tommy gun shooting at oil drums in the sea or for some of us revisiting our forthcoming engineering exams on which our future depended. As the week proceeded the army consolidated its position in France  and our presence in the Isle of Wight became less and less necessary and we were stood down. We lamented the lack of action but we enjoyed a flutter of excitement, took pride in being involved. We made some new friends and the food was good. 

On the fifteenth anniversary of D-Day the three of us from Portsmouth had a quiet reunion lunch." (Don Bevan, Peter Aylett and Jim Bouch)


TNA ref WO199/3391

Hancock data held at B.R.A

1939 Register

Steve Mason

The late Don Bevan