Mistley Patrol

A.K.A. (nickname)
Horsley Cross
Locality

Mistley is a large coastal village almost merging with Manningtree 11 miles north-east of Colchester.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Ernest William Spencer

Pedigree poultry breeder

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Sergeant William Strang

Farmer

1940 1942
Corporal Charles William Frostick

Pedigree Poultry Breeder

1940 1942
Private George Henry Greenwood

Poultry farmer

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private George Howard Kent

Master blacksmith

1940 1944
Private John Wotherspoon McNair

Horseman on farm

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Donald James McNair

Cowman

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Alexander McKinnon McNair

Head Cowman

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

The Operational Base is thought to be between Dickley Hall and Nether Hall, though the exact location is unknown.

OB Status
Location not known
Location

Mistley Patrol

Patrol Targets

The Patrols in this group appear to have been sited across the Tendring peninsula, presumably with the aim of disrupting the exit and supply of any troops landing at the coastal towns of Harwich, Clacton, Frinton and Walton, all of which had piers or port facilities. Brightlingsea itself was a significant port and the River Colne was navigable by coastal freighters as far a Colchester, with Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea having shipyards. Harwich was the main port on this part of the east coast and a major naval base with all round defences.

To this end the road bridges and railway lines between the coast and inland would have been prime targets. Great Bromley was also the site of the fifth radar station to be built in the UK in 1937. It would likely also be a target after invasion, if only to deny the equipment to the Germans whose own radar was less advanced early in the war.

Training

The Essex Patrols were trained at River House, Earls Colne. Patrol members would almost certainly have attended training courses at Coleshill House.

Weapons and Equipment

The Patrol would have been issued with the standard equipment.

Other information

Martin Frostick recalls his father telling him, on a drive to Manningtree in the 60s, how he and some friends did secret war work - he said they used to meet at Stacey's Farm. A weapons and explosives store was mentioned. He can only vaguely remember the conversation now.

At Stacey's Farm, after Bill Strang's death, earthworks to lay a tennis court uncovered a cache of munitions.

It is not known exactly when the patrol was formed. The Patrol first formed part of the group that covered Colchester and the surrounding area. This was commanded by Lieutenant G H Smith with 2nd Lieutenant H G Denniss as Assistant Group Commander. Later in the war, this group was split into two, with the Mistley unit joining the Colchester East Group, with the same Group Commander, but now with Lieutenant J Harper as his assistant.

References

TNA ref WO 199/3389

Personal correspondence with Hugh Frostick, son of Charles, who also interviewed Don McNair’s son Jimmy, John McNair’s daughter Jane Lennox and George Greenwood’s son John.
Article in Poultry Industry 8th October 1943
Essex Newsman 28th January 1944.

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