Crundale village lies 6 miles north-east of Ashford.
|Private Owen William Graves||
Partner J O Graves Lime Works
|26 Jan 1941||1944|
|Private Leslie Brice||
|26 Jan 1941||1944|
|Private Joseph Alfred Chester||
|18 Mar 1941||1944|
|Second Lieutenant Charles Graves||
Mechanic - motors & motor cycles
|24 Dec 1941||1944|
|Private Thomas Arthur Hubbard||
|26 Jan 1941||27 Dec 1943|
|Private Ellis Bishop Wood Legge||
Carpenter and joiner
|26 Jan 1941||1944|
|Private James White||
The main OB was excavated from a natural hollow at the bottom of a chalk quarry and roofed over with corrugated iron by the Royal Engineers. Trees were felled and laid across the top for camouflage.
Inside were rough bunks and stores of food and water for a fortnight. There was a smaller chamber holding an Elsan closet.
The OB was linked to secondary two man bunker by field telephone. Explosives were stored in two additional
hides some way off. The OB collapsed in 1996 and farm rubbish was thrown on top.
There was another dump for petrol, ammunition and explosives in the lime works, itself. In the area of Winchcombe Farm, Sole Street, there are three holes dug into a chalk bank said to have been for Aux Unit stores.
Auxilier Owen Graves: 'Before the R.E had finished building the hide a load of ammunition and explosives was delivered so we put it in Jim White’s granary until the hide was ready. Then we used Jim’s tractor and trailer to take it up.'
The Patrol’s main target was to blow the railway line at Godmersham but only using enough explosive to buckle the track rather than destroy it. The damage would be less obvious and more likely to cause a derailment.
Main training was conducted at the Garth and also in the fields near Jim White's farm where they would have shooting competitions and would test out and experiment with explosives. In one instance they got hold of a propeller hub from a crashed spitfire and there seeing how high they could blow it into the air.
The Patrol trained alongside Haricot Patrol from Hastingleigh. Patrol Members also went on courses at Coleshill.
Exercises were held against local Home Guard and Regular Army units. The most determined effort was made when they raided Wye College while Winston Churchill was attending a meeting.
Owen Graves: “We went around the outside of the College and there were soldiers guarding all the doors. We dodged around the outside looking for a way in, watching for the sentries who were patrolling. Jack, my brother, saw a window open and got up a drainpipe to get into it. He went down through the College and opened a door for us. We got into the forecourt and one of the guards spotted us. We made it down into the cellar but just as we were shutting the door the guard stuck his rifle in and jammed it so we couldn’t close it right up. He said if we didn’t give ourselves up they’d smoke us out so we thought we might as well call and end to it then. Churchill was really pleased at what we’d managed to do.”
Owen Graves: “I was at Coleshill on one occasion when we were told 5,000 Germans had just left France in barges as an invasion fleet. It was 8pm and we began to get ready to return to our patrols. At 10.30pm we were told that the navy had dispersed them. They poured oil on the Channel and set fire to it. Bodies of some of the Germans were washed up on Romney Marsh but it was all kept very quiet at the time.
The men knew they had no real hope of staying alive if they were called upon to carry out the duties for which they had been trained, and this they accepted. The hardest duty was that they should ‘finish off’ any of their comrades – often longtime personal friends – who were unable to make it back to base."
Each member of the Patrol was issued with a .38 revolver, knuckle dusters and a short dagger which was kept inside a sock. Two rifles were issued to the best shots.
Auxilier Jack Graves: “Two rifles were issued to each unit and given to those who were the best shots. We were stocked with every kind of explosives including P.E, gun cotton, grenades and sticky bombs. We hardly knew how to use the stuff at first. It’s a wonder we didn’t blow ourselves up. They didn’t care; they just wanted somebody to undertake the job.
We were issued with a pass stating that: “This officer will answer no questions,” but not before he experienced an uncomfortable incident.
I went up to Coleshill by train from Ashford and when I was on the way back home I was in London standing on the station when two MPs searched me. They found I was carrying a Smith and Wesson, some electrical wire and a few boobytrap materials. They asked me who I was and I said I was in the Home Guard. Finally, I gave them a special phone number and they were told to let me go.
The group could use a certain amount of the explosives for practice and often found a way of making the best of the situation."
Auxilier Owen Graves: “We made up all sorts of things. I came up with the idea of using a piece of piping to fire hand grenades. We cut down the fuse on the grenade from six seconds to four so after it landed they wouldn’t have time to throw it back. A stick of gelignite was put in the bottom and we could point the tube in any direction we wanted. Bloody thing blew up!
We blew up some trees near Sutton Farm at Pett Street for Miss Hudson who owned the land. She sent us a lovely tea. Exercises were held against local Home Guard and Regular Army units. The most determined effort was made when they raided Wye College while Winston Churchill was attending a meeting."
Owen Graves was a Special Constable checking the fields around Crundale for unexploded bombs after a particularly heavy bombing raid the day before (July 31, 1940).
Owen Graves: “I wanted a souvenir so I went up into the fields and tried to get the detonator off the clock face of one of the bombs. While I was doing that I was approached by three Army blokes and we started chatting. One of them was Peter Fleming and the other was a Captain Johnson (Isle of Sheppey Patrols?). They helped me to load an unexploded bomb into the back of a coal lorry ready for it to be detonated by the bomb disposal unit. One lunch time later I came home and my wife told me three Army officers had called to see him. They were up the Man of Kent pub and asked if I would join them there.
They asked me to help organise a group of guerilla fighters with orders to let the enemy pass if an invasion took place and then to cause as much disruption as possible to supply lines and communications. Fleming asked if I could get four or five more blokes. My brother Jack came in and we had several other chaps at different times in our group.”
Owen Graves: “If I’d got any of my men injured I wasn’t to bring him back but to make off with him. I said: “You can’t do that!” but they told me: “You will, you’ll see. If you bring one back, your life won’t be worth living.”
Rex Lancefields for letting us use images and quotes from Auxiliers from his books “Recolections of rural life” and “Within living memory”.
TNA ref WO199/3391 and WO199/3390
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Auxiliers John and Owen Graves