Snapper (Barnstaple) Patrol


The Patrol was known by the name Snapper which is a small, scattered hamlet 2 miles from Barnstaple.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Hedley Harris

Forest nurseryman

20 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Corporal Norman Hastings Grey

Drapery salesman

10 Jul 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick George Ewens

Bread maker

12 Sep 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Claude Gould

Cabinet maker.

08 Jun 1942 16 Apr 1943
Private Frederick Harding


31 Jul 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick Michael Harding

Farm worker

23 May 1943 03 Dec 1944
Private William Joseph Lerwill


14 May 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private William Richard Shapter Libbey

Foreman - Pastry cook and confectioner

10 Aug 1942 26 May 1943
Private Arthur Ambrose Seymour

Motor engineer

01 Jun 1940 21 Jan 1943
Operational Base (OB)

It is thought the OB was in a hedge at Sherwell built in a hollowed out hedge, somewhere on the high ground behind Sherwell Mill. It also had a phone line from it to the farmhouse at Sherwell Mill. After the war they dumped the remains from the OB down a old mine shaft nearby.

OB Status
Location not known

Snapper (Barnstaple) Patrol

Patrol Targets

Many Auxiliers from Group 1 have recounted the story of a practice raid on RAF Chivenor.

Road and rail targets around the Barnstaple area including the A39, A361 and the A377 would have disrupted all supply routes from the town and the River Taw.

Two (possibly three) bridges on the previously-closed Lynton & Barnstaple Railway near Snapper were blown up during World War Two, as well as a similar number further along the line near Bratton Fleming. The war diary of the 3rd Chemical Warfare Group of the Royal Engineers, which was billeted on Exmoor for a while, records cryptically: "9-12 January 1941 - Company night shoots on Exmoor and Bridge demolition on Lynton Barnstaple railway." Frustratingly it doesn't say which bridges or why. Locals remember hearing explosions and being told that the military were "practising" but it is wondered whether some of the bridges might have been demolished by Auxiliary Units.


In his memoirs Bert Verney (Tawstock) recalled he trained with 4 Patrols in Group 1.

Weapons and Equipment

It is assumed they had access to the standard kit, arms and explosives.


TNA ref WO199/3391

Hancock data held at B.R.A

1939 Register

The late Auxilier Bert Verney from his book “Reflections – A trilogy of memories” ISBN 1 874448 20 5

The memories of the late Auxilier Geoff Bradford

Preston Isaac