Rochford Patrol


The town of Rochford is a few miles north of Southend-on-Sea.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Henry Jack Burles


Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Corporal Douglas Charles Cater

Farmer and tractor driver

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick Robert Cain

Market Gardener Lorry Driver

Unknown Unknown
Private Charles Graham Fance

Market Gardener Salesman & Lorry Driver

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private George Francis Sargent

Nurseryman & ARP Warden

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Donald Botwright Willans


Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

The Patrol’s Operational Base is thought to have been located in Potash Wood

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

Rochford Patrol


All the Patrols in the group took part in training exercises together. Some of these are described on the pages for the other Patrols.

The Patrol put on a display together with the Hockley Patrol for 4 visiting officers. This included an attack on a mock up tank and other booby traps. During a display of an advance through a series of lakes, one of the Rochford Patrol (probably Charlie Fance) fell in up to his neck and had to be rested from the remainder of the display to warm up again. The demonstration was on the farm of Doug Cater’s father.

Other information

Bert Cocks recalled that George Sargent was tea total, which explained why he was dozing in a car outside the Plough and Sail in Paglesham late one night, when a policeman tapped on the window. He asked him what he was doing there so late and said that his pals were on Home Guard duty. When the policeman suggested they might be in the pub engaged in an illegal “lock in”, he denied this.

The policeman went to check on the pub, but chose the wrong bar and George sped around the other side of the building to alert the rest of the Patrol who rushed out of the back door. In the pitch dark of the black out, they evaded the policeman but Don Williams fell into a cess pit. His mates hauled him out, but the drive home cannot have been too pleasant!

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)



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

TNA ref WO199/3389, 1939 Register, Hancock data held at B.R.A