Dawlish Patrol

A.K.A. (nickname)
The Haldon Commandos

Dawlish is a town on the South Devon coast that has become a seaside resort.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Theodore John Manning

General haulier

30 Jun 1940 03 Dec 1944
Corporal Herbert George Thorp


10 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Henry John Peter Addison

Motor mechanic

28 Aug 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Henry John Pitts Blackmore

Tractor driver

27 Jun 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Edgar William Charles Wills Goldsworthy

Market gardener

22 Mar 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private H. V. Green 18 Mar 1941 03 Dec 1944
Private Fred Mortimore


25 Jul 1940 14 Jan 1943
Operational Base (OB)

The OB was destroyed when the A38 was widened in the 1970s.

It was dug out by the men, by hand, and is remembered as a Nissen hut structure. Rather than a drop down shaft it had an entrance tunnel that had a dog leg in it. The overall structure was covered with straw (thinking it would insulate it in Winter) before being buried again under soil. It also had running water.

The modern day road cutting of the A38 Devon Expressway gives a false impression of the original contours of the land. Originally 20ft or more above the present road surface the OB would have been on the hillside of the wooded area of Great Haldon.

Jack Addison watched with interest as contractors started to carve their way through the hillside to create that section of the A38 Devon Expressway during the 1970s. As they got closer to the still stocked OB he warned them they may need to stop and call “someone from the army”. The bomb disposal squad were called. It is, at present, unknown what their actions were but various items ended up in the possession of a Cornish Auxilier.

Patrol & OB pictures
OB Image
Caption & credit
OB site above the present A38
OB Image
Caption & credit
Railway and road target
OB Status
OB accessibility
The OB site is publicly accessible

Dawlish Patrol

Patrol Targets

The OB would have over looked the previous line of the “old” A38, the main road between the strategically important port of Plymouth and the county town of Exeter so this must have been an obvious target.

The railway line running through the town would have been a suspected target for all of Group 5. Running right along side the shoreline, even today it often causes rail disruption to the rest of the South West in bad weather.

RNAS Haldon Aerodrome (HMS Heron II) was also close by.


Shooting practice took place at the rifle range at Starcross. Theo Manning would pick up Herb Thorp every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning in his sports car to go off to train.

Suspected training areas for all the Patrols of Group 5 are the many forests and plantations on and around Great Haldon Ridge and Little Haldon.

Weapons and Equipment

Unknown, but it is assumed the had the standard weapons and explosives. Robin Thorp, the son of Herb Thorp recalled being told off for playing with his father's Sten Gun in the family kitchen. 

Other information

The nick name of "The Haldon Commandos" came from the OB location near Haldon Hill.


TNA ref WO199/3390

The Hancock data held at B.R.A.

Dawlish Gazette, & Western Times

Dawlish at War by Tricia Whiteway and Sheila Wain,

On Guard by AR Thompson both published by Dawlish Local History Group.

Robin Thorp, Jean Waldron, Sue White, Tim Mole, Tim Whiteway, Tricia Whiteway,

Forestry Commission at Haldon.

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