Whitchurch Canonicorum Patrol


Whitchurch Canonicorum is a village in south-west Dorset, situated in the Marshwood Vale, 5 miles north-west of Bridport, 1 mile north of the A35 main road.

Patrol members
Name Occupation Posted from Until
Sergeant Gerald Hedley Glyde

Dairy & arable farmer

13 Jan 1941 03 Dec 1944
Sergeant Charles Knight

Auxiliary Postman

Unknown Unknown
Corporal Wilfred Edgar John Symonds

Jobbing gardener

01 Sep 1940 03 Dec 1944
Private Samuel Barnes

Dairy farmer

15 May 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick John Dare

Foreman on farm

Unknown 04 Mar 1943
Private William Fred Dare

Father Dairy Farmer

07 Jun 1942 03 Dec 1944
Private Frederick William James Sealey


01 Sep 1940 31 Oct 1944
Private Wilf John White

Dairy Farming family

28 Oct 1940 04 Mar 1943
Operational Base (OB)

The OB was sited in Conegar Hill Plantation. It is owned by the Woodland Trust. Over the years the plantation has been worked and reforested, the OB being removed and the vegetation allowed to regrow.

Almost nothing remains of the bunker, except a depression and outline which fits the shape and dimensions described in the book 'Wodetone - A Wooded Place' by Guy Bryan, 2004. There is a drawing of the OB p.91 by Ed Bowditch. It had two vertical shafts and wooden floor.

John Pidgeon interviewed brothers Rex and Ralph Powell who were in the Wootton platoon LDV. They told him they knew all about the OB in WW2, and even helped the Patrol unload all the kit! It is suspected that this was after 1940 since the threat of invasion that year was extremely high and secrecy paramount.

There was a Jack Bowditch in the same LDV platoon. He is possibly the father of Ed Bowditch who made the OB drawing in the book.

Visiting woods, Woodland Trust.

Patrol & OB pictures
OB Image
Caption & credit
Whitchurch Canonicorum OB showing depression shape (M.Allen) 2018
OB Image
Caption & credit
OB remains showing corregation (M.Allen) 2018
OB Image
Caption & credit
Whitchurch Canonicorum OB drawing by Ed Bowditch
OB Image
Caption & credit
Whitchurch Canonicorum O.B. Sketch 2022 (W.Ward)
OB Image
Caption & credit
Whitchurch Canonicorum O.B. sandy backfill from construction (M.Allen) 2022
OB Status
Collapsed with few visible remains
OB accessibility
The OB site is publicly accessible

Whitchurch Canonicorum Patrol

Patrol Targets

This was one of a series of Patrols based either side of the A35, then as now, one of the main roads out of the southwest. Presumably the intention was to ambush and delay any German troops landing either on the Dorset coast or further southwest. There were relatively few military targets otherwise in the area. The closest airfields were some distance away. The nearby town of Bridport might have been a landing site for German troops and a possible target, along with the railway from Bridport to Maiden Newton.

No Observation Post has been found, but the Patrol would have had good views along the A35 east to Hardown Hill above Morcombelake, and south to Charmouth and Lyme Bay.


The Whitchurch Canonicorum OB was used by the Beaminster and Symondsbury Patrol for local training as it was the local HQ for these Patrols according to George Raymond from the Beaminster Patrol in an audio interview. This makes sense as the Group Commander and Assistant Group Commander both lived in the village.

The Patrol apparently practised firing on Hardown Hilll, and they would have attended training sessions at the Dorset headquarters at Duntish Court. The Dorset Scout Section would have provided training to the Patrol as well.

Weapons and Equipment

Fred Dare was issued with a .22 rifle, ,303 rifle, a .38 revolver and a commando knife. He also used a Tommy Gun and Sten Gun. He recalled the latter as it tended to fire off a whole magazine when fired on the single shot setting! It is likely that the Patrol were issued with the standard weapons.

Other information

Sergeant Knight was the first Patrol Leader, being later replaced by Gerald Glyde, who was promoted from Corporal.

Wilf Symonds was then promoted Corporal in his place.

William Fred Dare and Frederick John Dare were next door neighbours and Wilf White a cousin. In 2014 Fred Dare still refused to talk in detail about his service in Auxiliary Units.



Wodetone - A Wooded Place by Guy Bryan, 2004. Drawing of the OB p.91 by Ed Bowditch.

National Archives WO 199/3390, 199/3391

Additional names and dates of death from Ancestry.co.uk

Further Information from John Pidgeon, Lloyd Dare and Martyn Allen

Recorded audio of George Raymond (Beaminster Patrol) held in Beaminster Museum.