Cheddon Fitzpaine Instation

Location
Cheddon Fitzpaine, Somerset
Type
Instation
Call sign
Golding 0
Special Duties Personnel
Role Name Posted from until
ATS Staff Second Subaltern Priscilla Mary Badgerow (Miss) 15 Apr 1942 03 Dec 1944
ATS Staff Second Subaltern Brown (Miss) Unknown 03 Dec 1944
ATS Staff Gertrude Russell Graham (Miss) Unknown 29 May 1944
ATS Staff Margaret Relph (Miss) Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Operator Second Subaltern Mary Alexander (Miss) 1942 03 Dec 1944
Operator Second Subaltern Airlie Abinda Campbell (Miss) Nov 1942 Mid 1943
Operator Second Subaltern Ann Lettice Valborg Gunter (Miss) Unknown 03 Dec 1944
Operator Second Subaltern Kathleen Marie Hills (Mrs) 1944 03 Dec 1944
Operator Second Subaltern Wendy Monica Pax Kaines (Miss) 1944 1944
Station description

The Golding Zero station dugout was built on the edge of woods above Hestercombe House, Cheddon Fitzpaine, near Taunton, the house and gardens being open to the public.

The chamber (or chambers) appears to have been filled in and is inaccessible. According to Mr Mead, who farmed the land and recorded the site for the Defence of Britain database, by 1995 the chamber was filled in and the entrance shaft (2 x 2 feet square) was covered by a slab. He also recalled an aerial cable running up a nearby tree.
The ventilation pipes which are visible on the surface (discovered to date) seem to point in towards the central area pictured above. A single (to date) ventilation pipe appears to point in a different direction which may indicate a second chamber but may simply be due to ground movement.

A buried lintel is located where the land starts to drop away so this buried lintel could be the top of some form of escape tunnel.

The Met hut was known to have had a fenced enclosure around it so we assume the photos taken of the ATS women were taken in this area with the fence behind them.

According to Mr Mead, who's family farmed the land and owned Volis Farm and recorded the site for the Defence of Britain database, it was a wooden hut sited on a concrete platform. He recalled that the two sites were linked by an underground cable that ran along the north side of a stone wall.
When he recorded the site in 1995 he described the concrete platform as 33 x 13 feet and 1 foot high, to the south of a high stone bank. The bank can be seen behind Mary Alexander.
The Met Hut and the rectangular enclosure can be seen in this RAF aerial photograph, taken post war, in the corner of the field between the field boundary bank and the road.

The Cheddon Fitzpaine Rector, Reverend Christopher Graham OBE, ME, RN (retired), who's daughter Gertrude R Graham (2nd Subaltern ATS) was a Special Duties operator elsewhere, is recorded as a contact for 'Golding'. It appears the family often entertained the ATS officers.

Mary Alexander and Priscilla Badgerow both visited the Intelligence Officer Douglas Ingrams family home, “Selah", signing the visitor book. Next to one entry in 1943 Ingrams noted 'ATS Signals officer Special Duties Auxiliary Units GHQ Home Forces. Working with my unit at Golding'.

Beatrice Temple (ATS) kept a wartime diary and the first mention of Taunton is on 29th June 1942 where she records a trip to Taunton in her new car. After an overnight stay she checks in with IO Captain Coxwell-Rogers and 'MM'. She visits the HUT and chooses a billet.

The next visit on 12th August 1942 she visited the site and a farm as a possible billet 'only possible if an Orderly is provided'. Meeting Captain B H Tracey and 'Mr' Lloyd.

This sounds like it was quickly organised as by the 15th of August she returned to Taunton 're: orderly to be attached' and after lunch with Coxwell-Rogers she went 'up to Brown'. [The diary of Alf Ellis (Royal Signals) records that Alf took a 'J' (code name) Brown to Taunton for tests in July 1942 so this could imply she was going to see him]

This obviously did not run that smoothly however as only the following day she records 'everything going wrong in Taunton'.

By August 20th 'Capt Buckle (Station Area Quartering Commandant) and assistant inspected whole accommodation – passed stable for Rest Room and mess but not for sleeping. Alma [Hildyard] returned in 3-ton lorry with masses of furniture – curtains etc – distributed to rooms'.

The billet chosen was Volis Farm. This is a five minute walk down Volis Hill to the Met Hut which is a two minute walk across a field to the dugout.
November 13th 1942 'Priscilla + Airlie at Hut, Mary on leave.'

On January 3rd 1943 Temple records she 'Went to Taunton (Capt Coxwell-Rogers) – supper with Capt Fenwick + Capt Strangman.' Captain Ian Fenwick was the Somerset Operational Branch Intelligence Officer. This meeting proves, in Somerset at least, that the Operational Branch IO and Special Duties Branch IO had knowledge of each other.

By March 18th 1943 her visit records 'All 3 at Hut'.

April 14th 1943 'Taunton – visited both places of duty with Hazel'. This seems to be the first mention of two sites.

November 21st 1943 'Major Forbes called and drove BT [Temple] to Taunton through fog and rain. Lunched with the Fingland’s (he goes to Norfolk on Thursday 25th) then visited AB in zero hut for an exercise'. This is the first time she calls it a ZERO station.

January 30th 1944 “To Taunton….Met new IO Captain Ingrams – very ineffectual.”

Map Location

Cheddon Fitzpaine Instation

References

Arthur Gabbitas
Alf Ellis
Beatrice Temple’s diary
Defence of Britain database recorded by R W Mead
James Campbell Gascoyne
“Churchill’s most secret Special Duties Branch” by Evelyn Simak and Adrian Pye
“Chirnside 1” by Hugh May, A. Blackmore, D.Hunt and T.Walford
Chris Perry
Information supplied to CART by Donald Brown author of “Somerset V Hitler"
Somerset Heritage Centre