Hockley Patrol

Locality

Hockley is a large village in Essex, located between Chelmsford and Southend-on-Sea.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Captain Cecil George Ford

Headmaster

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Sergeant Arthur John Rodwell

Scales and weight maintenance

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Corporal Herbert Kenneth Baldwin Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Corporal Albert Edward Cocks

Market gardener

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private George Edward Clark

Insurance manager

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private George Munro Drysdale

Cashier

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Michael Thomas William Ford 1943 03 Dec 1944
Private Oscar Fuller Ben Marshall

Bank officer

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Leonard John Nice

Bricklayer

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Albert Blunt Vyse

Labourer Threshing Machine

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

The Operational Base (OB) was in the south-east corner of Trinity Woods. Bert Cocks recalled that it had been built by the Royal Engineers and was a typical elephant shelter roughly 30 feet by 12 feet. The OB had an entrance hatch constructed with a counter balance arrangement similar to that seen in the drawing provided on courses at Coleshill.

As originally built, the OB did not have an escape tunnel. This was later added by the Patrol themselves, who started a three foot square tunnel and lined it with timber as they dug. The soil was loaded into sandbags and taken some distance away to be scattered, rather as seen in many wartime PoW escape movies. The aim was a 60 foot tunnel, but having dug less than 30 feet, the Patrol was stood down.

Bert Cocks tried to locate the OB in the 1990s, but could find no trace of it.

Patrol & OB pictures
OB Image
Caption & credit
Essex Group 8 Patrols
OB Status
Location not known
Location

Hockley Patrol

Training

Each of the Patrol went to Coleshill House for training. Bert Cocks recalled that the staff were all of the really tough sort. He described how the were shown drawings of the high estate walls and ditches, then dropped individually 3 miles away, with instructions to find their way back to the main house. He managed well, until confronted with the high walls around the estate, and already wet and tired he decided to try and sneak through a small arched gateway in the wall, but a member of the staff was waiting for him behind the wall! Michael Ford recalled being taught unarmed combat at Coleshill as well as how to use explosives.

The Patrol also travelled up to Suffolk to train, using gravel or clay pits on the outskirts of Eye. Later they used a disused quarry near Ballard’s Gore in Essex.

Another exercise involved the South Essex Patrols cooperating to lead an Army Patrol (the Scout Section perhaps?) across the district guided by members of each Patrol. Rochford Patrol delivered the lieutenant and 10 men to Bert at the edge of Trinity Wood and he led them through the pitch black woods relying on the gradient of the land and his knowledge alone. The lieutenant was very impressed and said so as he was handed over to the Rayleigh Patrol.

On another occasion, Bert was leading the Patrol in the dark and suddenly came across a newly erected stile. He turned to let the rest of the Patrol know, but in the dark, Jack Rodwell walked straight into him and they clashed head, Jack falling to the ground unconscious. Cold and wet, they covered him with their jackets, until he fortunately recovered a short while later.

The Patrol put on a demonstration for visiting “big-wigs” working with Rochford Patrol. The four visiting officers, guided by Jack Ford, saw a a mock-up tank, which was blocked by a tree being cut down in its path and demolished by a pre-laid mine. Other displays of booby traps were made and an attack across a series of lakes in an old brickfield by Canewdon Hall Farm. This didn’t go too well for one of the Rochford Patrol who fell in up to his neck, swallowing mouthfuls of muddy water. He had to be wrapped and spared the rest of the exercises

Weapons and Equipment

The Patrol were issued with the usual selection of explosives, detonators, detonating cord and various fuses. They had pull & pressure switches, hand grenades, smoke bombs and thunderflashes. They had ordinary and plastic explosive.

Each man had a pistol and a dagger. Michael Ford recalled he was issued with a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver.

Other information

The Hockley Patrol was one of the few Auxiliary Units to make contact with the enemy. They were asked to find a parachutist who had been seen to fall near Fambridge. The Patrol crossed the marshes using their local knowledge and found he had landed in the mud. The formed a human chain to reach him and pull him out. The German aviator was in a bad way and only too happy to be rescued.

Bert Cocks, along with Arthur Gabbitas, former Royal Signals Corporal with Special Duties Section, arranged reunions of Aux Units personnel in East Anglia at the Garrison Officers Club in Colchester between 1995 and 2000.

The group photo shows;

Back Row
Don Williams (Rochford), David Antill (Thundersley), Charlie Fance (Rochford), John Tomlinson (Rayleigh), Michael Ford (Hockley), Eddie Southern (Rayleigh)

Middle Row
Jack Murphy (Rayleigh), Bert Cocks (Hockley), Don Handscombe (Thundersley), Doug Cater (Rochford), George Clarke ( Hockley), George Sargeant ( Rochford)

Front Row
George Billardis (Canvey), Rupert Ives (Canvey), Jack Rodwell (Hockley), Bill Heath (AGC), Jack Ford (GC), Bob Baptie (AGC), Jack Burles (Rochford), Len Downes (Rayleigh), Fred Harris (Thundersley)

References

National Archives file WO199/3389, Hancock data held at B.R.A, 1939 Register

Imperial War Museum Sound Recording 15243/1 (Michael Ford interview)

“Churchill’s Secret Army 1939-45 and other recollections” by Bert Cocks

 

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