Leweston Patrol

Locality

Leweston lies 0.5 east of the village of Longburton in North Dorset.

Ted Spackman and Bob Mills were good friends and both were under-cowmen to Ted’s father on the Leweston estate. During the war this was owned by the Rose family, famous for their lime cordial and marmalade. Both joined the Home Guard on the same day and obviously when Aux Units were formed they joined this together. Tony Goodchild also worked on the estate. It is possible that they knew the others through the Home Guard as they all lived rather further from the Operational Base. Bob Mills was the youngest of seven brothers, two of whom had died in the First World War.

The Rose family used an advert during the war in the form of an “airgraph” to the owner serving overseas from the estate butler, as a Sergeant of the Home Guard named Albert Hawkins, commenting on the difficulty in obtaining Lime Cordial.

Albert Hole doesn’t appear in the May 1942 list of Patrol members, and is not recorded as joining the Home Guard until September. It is possible that he joined even later, perhaps when Rob Mills moved to a farm near Redhill, Surrey to work in the Spring of 1944.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Edward Spackman

Cowman

02 Jun 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Philip Hylton Brunt

Father dairy farmer

16 Sep 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private William Edward Foot

General Farm work

04 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Colin Anthony Goodchild

Foreman Gardener

04 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private George Wilfred Montague Hansford

Dairy Farmers son

27 Apr 1942 04 Apr 1943
Private Albert John Hole

Dairy Farmer

26 Sep 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private John Frederick Lawes 17 Sep 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Robert Mills

Cowman

02 Jun 1940 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

The OB was in woods behind Leweston House, now a private girls school. It was in woodland well within the grounds of the estate. The site has not been positively identified but is unlikely to have survived intact.

Many years after the war, the Army were contacted about the OB with concerns that there might still be explosives within. They asked the Police to investigate and they made contact with Philip Brunt and visited the estate. He was unable to locate the OB, which supports it having being subsequently destroyed.

OB Status
Destroyed
OB accessibility
This OB is on private land. Please do not be tempted to trespass to see it
Location

Leweston Patrol

Patrol Targets

It is likely that Leweston Manor was a target as it would likely have been occupied had the Germans invaded. The Patrol is also known to have practised attacking Yeovilton airfield, where the guards were armed with live ammunition.

Training

Bob Mills complained in later life that his severe arthritis was the result of a bad throw during unarmed combat practice during the war. He ended up needing to walk with a stick or two in later life as a result. He also trained at Charborough Park, famous for tits “5 legged stag” (the statue of a stag raised on a plinth high above the road is support by an iron post that makes it look as if there are five legs!). There were three other Auxiliary Units Patrols based on this estate.

Bob Mills also recalled practising abseiling on Swanage cliffs. These same cliffs were where the US 2nd Rangers trained with British Commandos for their assault on the Pointe du Hoc Gun Battery in Normandy on D Day. In the run up to D Day, the roads near the estate were packed with US troops, their trucks and ammunition, all kept under trees at the roadside to avoid observation. The Patrol ensured that those guarding these stores were “kept on their toes”!

Philip Brunt recalled that he had attended Coleshill for training.

Weapons and Equipment

The Patrol was issued with Fairbairn Sykes commando daggers. Bob Mills kept his.

Other information

At the end of the war, the Patrol all received the normal Stand Down letter, though none survives intact.

Philip Brunt’s wartime identity card in the photo. Unusually this is marked with the 203 Battalion number, with the words Battalion, Home Guard embossed onto the card. There are official records that give the instruction to do this, allowing Auxiliers to prove their identity if required, but dos not appear to have been done very frequently. 

Bob Mill's wife Myrtle received posthumously his Defence Medal in around 1992 after his daughter Joan applied for it.

References

The National Archives WO 199/3390, 199/3391
Information from Rob Mills, son of Bob Mills, born in 1944 whilst his father was serving with the patrol.
Information from Mrs Philip Brunt, widow of Philip, who provided the photo of Holnest Home Guard.
Additional research by John Pidgeon from the 1911 census
http://www.keepmilitarymuseum.org/homefront/ta_training.php