Madron village is positioned north-west of Penzance in Cornwall.
|Sergeant Gordon Bolitho||
|11 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private William John Eddy||
|21 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Richard Charles Matthews||
|21 Mar 1941||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Edward Wilfred Noy||
|14 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Lanyon Thomas||
|10 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Bernard Trewern||
|03 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private John Wilfred Trudgen||
Grocer and general dealer
|28 Oct 1942||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Thomas Morley White||
|18 Jul 1940||03 Dec 1944|
The OB was on moorland close to Lanyon Quoit, a well known landmark on Burnt Down and on land farmed by Lanyon Thomas.
Permission to excavate was given to Stuart Emmett and Gareth Wearne and the area has been thoroughly metal detected and excavated.
Though open mine shafts make the area dangerous to investigate, the area of the OB can be seen from the safety of a nearby public pathway. Set within an area of heathland and open moorland the area has been mined for tin for hundreds of years. The Patrol made use of one of the pits that had been excavated while the nearby Ding Dong Mine was open many years before.
The entrance shaft and block wall has been excavated and is mostly still intact. The main body of the OB can be seen as a large depression. It is suspected the Nissen structure of the main chamber was removed and used around the farm. At the far end of the main chamber, the escape tunnel can be followed as a curved, deep ditch. This opens out into another smaller depression and runs into the top of a tin mine. There is a cement layer on top of the breeze block shaft and the hitches cut for the trap door and hinges can be seen.
The main section was 24 foot long by 12 foot wide. At the far end it then drops down and curves around into a second area by the shaft of approximately 12 foot by 8 foot.
The mine shaft adjacent to the base has been capped with large granite slabs, this is thought to have been done by the Auxiliers as no other shaft has been capped in this entire area. This would make sense as it would have been their second egress and if cornered underground it could have been a better place to try and make a fight for survival. This level is only 16 foot below the surface.
It was thought that the Patrol could have used these underground workings as a network for moving around the area and down the valley for escape but extensive exploration has shown this is unlikely due to blockages and being prone to flooding.
Gordon Bolitho stated; “We found a little bit of a pit out in the moors and dug it down and made a concrete living quarters. Access was by a trapdoor and the men climbed down a ladder.
Every Sunday we would go up near Laynton Quiot and build our operational base at a place where there was already a hole. We built a Nissen hut below the ground strengthened with concrete blocks. The entrance was hidden and you had to climb down a ladder... After the war we told Lanyon Thomas that if he dug it up he could have the Nissen hut. He probably used it as a chicken hut on his farm”.
Their base is several miles from any real targets as the area is surrounded by wild moorland.
Mounts Bay itself would have been a major naval resupply area for the Germans, they could have anchored very large numbers of vessels up in a sheltered area carrying all sorts of stores.
Gordon Bolitho went to Coleshill; “We were walking down a road and we were asked if we had noticed anything. We hadn't. We went back, there were dead leaves on the ground and there was a bootlace with leaves stuck to it. You pulled it and up came a trap hatch. In another place at Highworth there was an area where trees had been felled. One of the stumps it was discovered, could be opened....it was an entrance to another hiding place.
Sometimes we would go over to the old granite quarries near Helston for training."
It is assumed they were issued with the standard kit, arms and explosives.
Bolitho remembered; "Enough explosives to blow up Penzance! Revolvers, Sten-guns, rifles and enough explosives to blow up Penzance... also hand grenades with four-second fuses...knife...time pencils...push and pull switches"
Dick Matthews added; "Plastic explosives, Gelignite, Blasting gelignite, Nobels 808, Gun cotton, Ammonal, Cordex."
Gordon Bolitho stated; “We all came out of the Home Guard and we were frowned on by some local people who did not know about the Auxiliary Unit and thought we were dodging our duties... I also got in trouble with Lord St Levan who was in charge of the local Home Guard and thought I was persuading men to leave the local detachment.... Captain Dingley who was in charge in Cornwall decided it was safe to let Lord St Levan know so we went to see him....we carried passes so if we were stopped by the police they were told not to question us and they were referred to a telephone number".
Stuart Emmett and Gareth Wearne for discovering and documenting the OB.
TNA ref WO199/3391
Alwyn Harvey research for Defence of Britain Project
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Denys Matthews son of Auxilier Dick Matthews.
Memories of Dick Matthews and Gordon Bolitho in an undated article in The Cornishman.
Memories of Gordon Bolitho in Western Morning News 18/8/1998
Research sent by Philip Hadley.