Wenham Patrol

A.K.A. (nickname)
Capel St Mary
County Group
Locality

Wenham hamlet lies 1 mile north-west of the village of Capel St. Mary, which itself is approximately 6 miles south-west of Ipswich.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Percy John Chaplin

Tractor driver

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Corporal Charles A. Coe Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Thomas William Church

Farmer

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Private Charles Goddard

Garage worker

1942 1943
Private Edgar Walter Haste Pittock

Builder's lorry driver

Unknown Unknown
Private Leonard Charles Wyartt

Tractor driver

Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Operational Base (OB)

According to a report held at the B.R.O Museum at Parham, the OB was situated between Jermyns Farm and Grove Farm.  It is described as having been removed, with “only a hollow in wood and the remains of a tin-sheet lined entrance remaining in situ”. No mention is being made of another structure nearby which in all probability was the Patrol’s ammunition store.

According to Patrol member Charles Goddard (in: The Book of Capel), the structure consisted of two chambers and had a toilet. It was connected to the Patrol’s headquarters at Jermyns Farm via field telephone. The HQ was in a re-enforced cellar under what is now the patio
 
According to the account given to us by George Goodchild - his father owned Grove Farm – the structure served as Wenham Patrol’s OB.  It had a flat roof constructed with corrugated sheeting, and a wooden entrance shaft. Mr Goodchild also remembers that the OB had a chimney. It was situated in a spinney locally known as Sand Pit Wood, across the field, to the north-west of Jermyns Farm.  It was partially destroyed after the war but he dug it out with the help of his brother and made it usable again. Only a depression and a handful of items which might have originated from the OB remain on site: a discarded old pot; the shard of a vent pipe; sections of angle iron; pieces of corrugated sheeting and part of a railway sleeper.

John Ratford (son of Sgt Bill Ratford of Bentley Patrol) accessed the OB just after the war. He can't remember much but what stuck in his memory was the ring near a tree stump that you pulled and the hatch swivelled open. Part came up and part went down, pivoting in the centre. He describes the OB as having been about 8ft square with a flat top roof and walls that were lined with corrugated sheeting. An ammunition dump was about 40 -50 yards further west and was of similar design and proportions. A small crater-like depression is all that remains.

 

Patrol & OB pictures
OB Image
Caption & credit
Wenham OB site
OB Image
Caption & credit
Wenham OB site remains
OB Image
Caption & credit
Wenham ammunition store
OB Image
Caption & credit
Old aluminium tea pot found at Wenham ammunition store site
OB Image
Caption & credit
Jermyn's Farm HQ site
OB Image
Caption & credit
Jermyn's Farm HQ
OB Image
Caption & credit
Jermyn's Farm HQ diagram
OB Image
Caption & credit
L to R: Len Wyartt, Sgt Jack Chaplin, Cpl Charles Coe, Bill Church
OB Status
Location not known
OB accessibility
This OB is on private land. Please do not be tempted to trespass to see it
Location

Wenham Patrol

Patrol Targets

Raydon aerodrome was attacked and many planes targeted. Charlie Goddard recalled the Holton search light was "well and truly blown up - the attackers ending up at the local dance".

Other targets would have included London and North East railway line and bridges in the vicinity.

Other information

A first-hand account, given by Patrol member Charles Goddard, is published in The Book of Capel:

“I joined the Home Guard (the old LDV) in 1941 … after a year or so I joined the 202. This was a squad of younger, fit men, most of whom were in reserved occupations. They were highly trained in the use of explosives, training involving blowing up of tree stumps etc. We were also well armed. I had a revolver and a Tommy gun.The explosives were stored in a very well camouflaged dugout between Grove Farm and Jermyn’s Farm… our headquarters was in a reinforced cellar beneath Jermyn’s Farmhouse. This was linked by landline to the other bunker. The bunker at Jermyn’s Farm still exists, although after large alterations to the house, most of it is now under a patio outside.” Charles Goddard in: The Book of Capel, p 108

Interestingly, Patrol members appear to have been in fairly close contact with neighbouring Bentley Patrol, who reportedly dug their “headquarters”, a safe meeting place for members of all Patrols.

“We knew the Wenham group had their dugout at Jermyn’s Farm and I know Charlie Coe and Charlie Goddard were in it.” Gerald Sporle (member of Bentley Patrol) in: The Book of Capel, p 115

“We were the ones who dug the dugout for Wenham group, [HQ] right under one of the rooms at Jermyn’s Farm.” William “Bill” Ratford (leader of Bentley Patrol before he transferred out) in: The Book of Capel, p 161-163

Seemingly they also helped digging the Patrol’s OB and ammunition store, located in Sand Pit Wood, because John Ratford, son of Bentley Patrol leader Sgt William “Bill” Ratford, who is also related to the Goodchilds of Grove Farm, knew the location well enough and took him to the structure after the war.

The Suffolk group 5 photos.

References

TNA ref WO199/3389

Hancock data held at B.R.A

1939 Register

Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye.

B.R.O.M at Parham, 

Charles Goddard in: Book of Capel, ed. R Pearce (published by Capel Parish Council, 1995);

Duncan Anderson, Capel St Mary; Dr G Clancy (telephone intertiew); George Goodchild, Capel (personal interview); John Ratford (son of Sgt Bill Ratford of Bentley Patrol); A Johnson, Holton St Mary (pers interview); Michael Anderton, Bentley (pers interview);

Will Ward (DoB 1996);