St. Columb is approximately seven miles southwest of Wadebridge and six miles east of Newquay.
|Sergeant William Richard Hawkey||
|07 Jun 1940||27 May 1943|
|Sergeant Harry Warne||
|03 Jun 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private John Edyvean||
|03 Jun 1940||02 Dec 1943|
|Private Richard Harold Ellery||08 May 1944||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Arthur Edward Lobb||
|26 Oct 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Archibald Nail||
|30 Sep 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private John O'Shea||
|30 May 1940||03 Dec 1944|
|Private William Edward Roberts||
|23 Apr 1941||03 Dec 1944|
|Private Frederick George Rounsefell||
|30 May 1940||26 Mar 1944|
|Private Charles Warne||
|27 May 1940||03 Dec 1944|
The OB was constructed by the Patrol within the north shaft workings of Castle-an-Dinas Wolfram Mine, North of Castle-an-Dinas iron age hill fort, two miles east of St Columb Major. The Castle is maintained by Cornwall Heritage Trust and welcomes visitors.
A tunnel entrance, a few yards north of the Castle, lead directly into the maze of mine shafts and works. One hundred yards into this tunnel the Patrol dug out a large chamber around 16 foot by 10 foot to use as their OB. The walls were not lined and left as natural rock. Large, heavy wooden doors were fitted at the entrance but no dedicated escape tunnel was formed as the men were experienced miners and knew the shafts and works well. The Patrol built bunks, tables and chairs and generally the chamber was considered very comfortable. The chamber may still remain as part of the mine works.
The buildings of the mine workings in the South would have given a fine view of the strategic roads nearby. The top of the hill fort provides a panoramic view of the area. With the cover of the ramparts the Patrol could have easily seen airplane movements to and from the nearby Newquay Airport which was originally RAF St Trebelzue then RAF St Mawgan.
Opened in 1917 the mine was the largest producer of wolfram in Cornwall between 1934 to its closure in 1958. It remained open and productive during the war years. Some beautiful images of the mine workings as they existed in 1997 can be seen here.
A explosives store was hidden within a mine spoil heap nearby.
St. Columb Patrol
The OB location at Castle-an-Dinas is perfectly placed to disrupt the main roads, the A30 East and A39 towards the North coast, along with the rail line.
A “Q-Type” night bombing decoy was constructed at nearby Tregonetha Down. It displayed a series of lights to simulate an active airfield thus acting as a decoy site for RAF St Eval airfield.
A night exercise was carried out against a group of regular army sent to defend the site. They were easily evaded and the Patrol were able to cause havoc at the site before escaping unseen until their work was discovered in the morning. The Commanding Officer was said to have been livid but hugely impressed. Years later the Patrol were told that the defending force at the site were a group of high ranking officers on a training exercise. The officers were left very red faced.
It is thought that none of the Patrol went to Coleshill for training but official training was carried out at Porthpean House near Charlestown on the South Cornwall coast.
Weapons firing was carried out within the confines of the mine area as there were plenty of waste tips to fire into safely and any explosive training could easily be explained as mine working.
It is assumed they had access to the standard equipment. The Patrol were issued with plastic explosives, gelignite and dynamite. Some of the explosives were stored in the OB and some concealed in a small store constructed within an old mine spoil heap nearby.
Initially the Patrol made their own time fuses with different lengths of fuse. Later in the war they were issued with time pencils.
Weapons issued were restricted to Sten guns, Colt revolvers and hand grenades.
Many of the Auxiliers were miners at the Castle-an-Dinas Wolfram (tungsten) Mine and so were in a reserved occupation.
William Roberts remembered the Patrol consisted of the same six men throughout the war though that does not appear to be the case. He had no memories of training with any other Patrols and was unaware of the existence of any local Patrols until he was interviewed in November 2000 by researcher Alwyn Harvey.
Alwyn Harvey and his work on The Defence of Britain Database who interviewed William Roberts.
TNA reference WO199/3391
Hancock data held at B.R.A
Phil Ellery of St Columb Old Cornwall Society