Martock Patrol

A.K.A. (nickname)
Bower Hinton

Bower Hinton is a village in the parish of Martock in Somerset, situated on the edge of the Somerset Levels 7 miles north west of Yeovil.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Nigel Leonard Palmer

Farm manager & tractor driver

06 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Thomas Harry Farthing

Dairy farmer

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Alfred Cecil Keech

Stonemason and bricklayer

22 Oct 1942 14 Apr 1943
Private Eric Kensington

Millwright apprentice (Aircraft) Westlands

22 Aug 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick Reginald Read

Aircraft fitter

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Emmanuel Aubrey Giles Reid

Bandmill timber sawyer

07 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Walter James Richards

Labourer at camp - heavy worker

09 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private John Hebditch Vaux


07 Jun 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Donald John White

Poultry appliance maker

22 Oct 1942 14 Apr 1943
Operational Base (OB)

The OB was in Drayton Covert near South Petherton.

The wood has changed since the war as it was originally a square shaped wood in the centre of a field. In 1985 part of the original wood was destroyed but the remaining part was incorporated into a new wood which is now a long strip in shape. The OB was sited in the area of the old wood, which is now incorporated into the new wood. A small ridge runs across the width of the wood and this is the remains of the dividing bank that surrounded the original wood site. You can also tell that you are in the old wood because there is older, mature trees in this part which are not in the rest of the wood.

Today Drayton Covert is a mixture of trees with average ground cover of young trees, plants and brambles with a narrow private path running along it.

The OB was destroyed around 1999 because of the risk of children being injured while playing in it and the danger to livestock as several sheep were lost in it. They had a difficult job destroying the structure, even with a bulldozer, because of the thick steel corrugated sheeting. Today there are no remains or signs of the OB but there is a wide, shallow, slight depression that seems to go the width of the wood in this area which could be the outline of where the structure was.

The OB was originally dug out by hand and with wheelbarrows and the structure buried underground.

Various people's memories describe the OB as possibly having steps leading down into a corrugated steel half round structure. The OB consisted of two Nissen hut rooms that were around 10 feet apart but joined together with an 18 or 24 inch pipe which the Auxiliers would have crawled through to get into the second chamber. Another tunnel is remembered as coming away from the chamber at right angles so this is assumed to be the escape tunnel.

During the war Chris Willy found the entrance and went into the OB as a child. He found the wooden trap door under leaves and woodland debris. Investigating further he noticed that it was hollow underneath and he climbed down into the chamber. He was stunned to find it contained Sten guns, ammunition and grenades but as far as he can remember there were no rifles present. He got out quickly and covered the trap door back up as it was and he never spoke about his discovery during the war to anyone.

Shore's Wood near Bower Hinton, which is less than a mile away, contained a bomb store for the Patrol on the north east edge. The land owner and brother of Nigel Palmer called it a ‘store’ This structure was possibly built by the Royal Engineers. Constructed of corrugated steel sheeting, it was well built and a well supported structure. It was full of ammunition when it was in use.

This structure was built or dug into the top of the slope and just inside the edge of Shore’s Wood which is on a slope were the ground level changes between two fields. It could go possible slightly into the field outside the wood but this is unknown for sure. The door was on the south west side on the downward slope side of the structure. It has been suggested that this was not hidden or disguised apart from it being in the wood.

Just a hollow remains in the slope of the ground as it has now collapsed.  All that can be seen is a depression in the slope with bits of corrugated sheeting lying around amongst the overgrowth.

Patrol & OB pictures
OB Image
Caption & credit
Drayton Covert 1940 OS map
OB Image
Caption & credit
Drayton Covert is in the back ground, and Flax Drayton Farm is on the right. The original Wood was in front of the Modern 'Drayton Covert' in the field with the yellow crop
OB Image
Caption & credit
Bower Hinton Shores Wood store
OB Image
Caption & credit
Bower Hinton Shores Wood store
OB Image
Caption & credit
Bower Hinton Shores Wood store
OB Image
Caption & credit
Bower Hinton Shores Wood store
OB Image
Caption & credit
Bower Hinton Shores Wood store. A303 behind. Store to the left of the track.
OB Image
Caption & credit
Bower Hinton Shores Wood store. Store to the right. A303 in the dip. South Petherton behind.
OB Status
OB accessibility
This OB is on private land. Please do not be tempted to trespass to see it

Martock Patrol

Patrol Targets

Likely targets include the nearby A303, a main road leading out of the South West peninsular. Damage or blocking of Petherton Bridge (A303) and Carey's Mill Bridge (¾ of a mile to the west of Bower Hinton) would hinder supply routes. Hurst Bow Bridge on the B3165 at Martock is built on a right angle bend in the road so it would be difficult to bridge over if destroyed.

Important road junctions on the A303 such as the A356 coming up from the South and Crewkerne. The B3165 that goes north though Bower Hinton and Martock to Somerton.

The railway line and station at Martock that went from Yeovil on to Langport could also have been a target.

Weapons and Equipment

Sergeant Nigel Palmer and Lieutenant William B. Martin cleared out the explosives store after the war and put the contents in a nearby pond. They then blew the lot up with the contents of the pond going everywhere. They damaged a nearby tree which later died because of this damage.


Chris Perry

The kindness of the landowners in allowing access.

TNA ref WO199/3391 and WO199/ 3390

Hancock data held at B.R.A

Donald Brown and his research for Defence of Britain Project

The Somerset Home Guard, a Pictorial Roll call, by Jeffrey Wilson.

Mr Rob Vaux, Mr Patrick Palmer, Mr John Blake, Mr Chris Willey and Mr T Monaghan.

Martock Memories by Roy Maber