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Thread: British guerillas 1940-41

  1. #1
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    Default British guerillas 1940-41

    There are references to post-war Labour leader Michael Foot saying he would have killed the Nazi appeaser Lord Halifax as part of the following program, but not in this article.

    Still, it wasn't a bad idea.


    From The Times

    January 5, 2009

    Secret army of ‘scallywags’ to sabotage German occupation

    Michael Evans, Defence Editor


    By day they were ordinary civilians — from dentists and clergymen to gamekeepers and roadmenders – in a Britain gripped by fear of imminent invasion by Hitler’s blitzkreig troops.

    The only clue to their alter egos might have been the pieces of paper in their pockets – informing any police officer suspicious of their behaviour “to ask no questions of the bearer but phone this number”.

    But new details have now emerged of the highly secretive role played by a “resistance” army of fit young men and women chosen as would-be saboteurs and spies in the event of a German landing.

    In the dark days of 1940, the unit grew to about 6,000 members, who knew little of each other and operated in small guerrilla groups. Recruited to disrupt a German occupation force – including roles such as blowing up tanks, lorry parks and communications – the teams prepared by carrying out covert missions, known as “scallywagging”, at night.

    The Auxiliers, as they were known, formed operational patrols of seven or eight heavily armed men who emerged from hideouts to watch the coastlines of East Anglia for any sign of approaching German commandos.

    Their role was to engage in irregular warfare, which meant that, as civilians, their capture by the Germans would have led to their instant execution as spies. Not everyone in the military hierarchy approved of the concept, believing that only men in uniform should be recruited to fight the enemy.

    Official records of the GHQ Auxiliary Units – whose creation was authorised by the inner War Cabinet, chaired by Winston Churchill – have rarely been released by the National Archives.

    Now John Warwicker, a 78-year-old retired Scotland Yard Special Branch officer, has unlocked some of the secrets and written an account of the resistance organisation-in-waiting, called Churchill’s Underground Army. “There is unnecessary secrecy about these units [but] Britain’s stay-behind army of civilian men and women should not be cast aside or written off as insignificant,” Mr Warwicker said.

    Even those recruited for bombing missions never knew who was really behind the idea. Mr Warwicker said that they had thought they were working for the War Office, but GHQ Auxiliary Units were financed by MI6, and one element of it, the Special Duties Section, became so experienced in covert operations that after the threat of invasion receded, members of the section were snatched up by the SAS for the rest of the war. Some of the Special Duties Section spies were women.

    Many of those who were recruited into the Auxiliary Units had been selected from the ranks of the Home Guard – yet as one senior officer recorded at the time: “To compare them with the Home Guard was to compare the Brigade of Guards with the Salvation Army.”

    “They were a secret guerrilla group – the members were not to know each other. As cover for their activities they were to appear to continue their lives entirely normally,” Mr Warwicker said. The key man in each patrol group had a store of explosives and weaponry hidden away and only he knew where it was.

    When the idea was first mooted in 1940, recruiters were dispatched around the country to find suitable candidates: men and women who had not been sent to war because they were needed on the land or in other vital jobs. The trawl included clergymen, gamekeepers, poachers, dentists and roadmenders. “A minor police record was not necessarily a disadvantage,” Mr Warwicker said.

    Each operational patrol was also issued with one gallon of rum. The jar was to be opened only to relieve pain in the event of injury or in the face of imminent capture, in the belief that “a tot or two might help to extend the time an auxilier could be expected to resist interrogation and torture”. In 1944 an ungrateful War Office demanded the return of every jar of rum, unopened and still with an official seal. It failed to notice that many, while still apparently sealed, were filled with green tea – or something similar.

    ‘I said I would do anything’

    Case study

    Don Handscombe, an early recruit to Churchill’s underground army, recalls the moment when he was arrested by a sharp-eyed police constable who wanted to know why he was scurrying around at night with a revolver in a holster.

    Now 90 and living in Suffolk, Mr Handscombe told The Times: “I said I was with the Home Guard but he didn’t believe me. He didn’t like the look of me — this was after Dunkirk when we expected to be invaded. I had to spend a few hours in a police cell until our intelligence officer arrived to release me.” After that, Auxiliers were given a note to produce in such circumstances.

    Mr Handscombe, who was trained in explosives and marksmanship, had been recruited while he was working as a farm manager: “I was asked what I was prepared to do for my country and I said I would do anything.”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle5446697.ece
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41



    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    In many respects a British version of the Werewolves which the Allies feared would survive the collapse of Nazi Germany, but which never emerged.

    Or something like the IRA in Ireland, which appointed itself as the true government under foreign oppression.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    Or the kernel, genesis of a resistance organization that would be more effective and organized right off the bat; whereas the Maquis started out with mostly renegade French military and police officers

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41


    No doubt some would come together by various means and accidents, but that's a long way short of having a cohesive national organisation.
    I would assume, and haven't looked into this enough and might be making an "*** out of you and me" -- that there were possibly general orders to autonomous action once the central gov't collapsed. How effective this all would have been is another question, but the obvious intent would be sort of holding out hope for a U.S. liberation--or perhaps--for the collapse of Nazism by other means...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 04-11-2010 at 09:14 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I would assume, and haven't looked into this enough and might be making an "*** out of you and me" -- that there were possibly general orders to autonomous action once the central gov't collapsed.
    Very probably, but whether those orders went out would depend upon whether the likes of Churchill or Halifax were running the show when the collapse occurred.

    If there was a Vichy type government after the collapse I'd expect that some or all of the cells would act on their own initiative, without orders.

    Then again, the Brits do tend to queue obediently and be rather polite to each other. Except at soccer games.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Very probably, but whether those orders went out would depend upon whether the likes of Churchill or Halifax were running the show when the collapse occurred.

    If there was a Vichy type government after the collapse I'd expect that some or all of the cells would act on their own initiative, without orders.

    Then again, the Brits do tend to queue obediently and be rather polite to each other. Except at soccer games.
    Oh damn, I think I edited your post me man. Sorry about that, I hate these new VB controls...

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I would assume, and haven't looked into this enough and might be making an "*** out of you and me" -- that there were possibly general orders to autonomous action once the central gov't collapsed. How effective this all would have been is another question, but the obvious intent would be sort of holding out hope for a U.S. liberation--or perhaps--for the collapse of Nazism by other means...
    There were such orders - with the first one on the list being to kill the local Chief Constable (chief of police), who was the only person likely to know their identity and location. The assumption was that the units would only very rarely survive the first winter, but they cold-bloodedly decided that it was worth it.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    British guerillas operated quite widely outside of Britain under the guise of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). They recruited many specialists and one famous example of their operations would be the film The Heroes of Telemark, the operation being carried out by Norwgian SOE volunteers.

    F. Spencer Chapman organised 'stay behind' forces in Malaya after the fall of Singapore and at the end of the war published his adventures in the book The Jungle Is Neutral
    After the fall of Malaysia to the Japanese, the unflappable F. Spencer Chapman survived for years in the jungle as a guerilla fighter. The Jungle is Neutral is his amazing tale of survival and valor against all odds. As he traveled by bicycle, motorcycle, dugout, on foot, or on his belly through the jungle muck, Chapman recruited sympathetic Chinese, Malays, Tamils, and Sakai tribesman into an irregular corps of jungle fighters. Their mission: to harass the Japanese in any way possible. In riveting scenes, Chapman recalls their daring raids as they blew up bridges, cut communication lines, and affixed plasticine to troop-filled trucks idling by the road. They threw grenades and disappeared into the jungle, their faces darkened with carbon, their tommy guns wrapped in tape so as not to reflect the moonlight. When Chapman wasn't battling the Japanese or escaping from their prisons, he found himself fighting the jungle's incessant rain, wild tigers, unfriendly tribesmen, leeches, disease, and malnutrition.

    This classic tale has been compared to Lawrence of Arabia's classic account, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the gritty account of day-to-day operations is so accurate that the French Foreign Legion used the book as a primer on jungle warfare. It is a war story without rival.
    Other examples were in the Balcans where the operations inspired films such as The Guns Of navarone. http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...4763739663289#

    Another true story published after the war and later made into a film was Ill Met By Moonlight.
    This invited some interesting comments from former German Army personnel, one particular soldier stating that any sergeant major worth his salt would have seen through the disguise of the two officers involved as there German uniforms consisted of a mixture of different units.
    The two young SOE operatives in this operations captured a German general. He later commented that he at first had thought that he had been captured by a bunchof Greek bandits and was in fear for his life. Then, one evening, as they sat around a campfire, he began reciting from the Iliad in ancient Greek. When one of the youung British operatives continued the recital, again in ancient Greek, he began to feel safe as he was among civilized men. I'm not sure I would have taken that for sure myself.

    The British education system always liked the classics. Even the title of the book Ill met By Moonlight is a quote from Midsummer Night's Dream.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJx4Bas2dLM
    Last edited by 32Bravo; 04-17-2010 at 04:20 PM.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    A good book that covers this subject.

    The Last Ditch.
    (The secrets of the nationwide British Resistance Organisation and the Nazi Plans for the Occupation of Britain 1940-1944)

    Author: David Lampe.
    Printed: 1968
    SBN: 304 92519 5

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Ditch-B.../dp/1853677302

    Rover
    Last edited by Rover; 10-15-2010 at 02:07 AM.

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    There was a rumour in the family that my father-in-law was one of the "Scallywags" although this is unproven. During the war he was a farmer at Debden Green, Essex and I believe he was just the sort of person/occupation that were recruited by this specialised Home Guard unit.
    I have tried to research into the possibility if he was part of this unit but have drawn a blank.

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    Default Re: British guerillas 1940-41

    I have no idea about the Home Guard Auxiliary's in Essex but I did do some research in Cornwall into them finding not much - recently I found this site though that may help

    http://www.coleshillhouse.com

    More specifically this bit for you

    http://www.coleshillhouse.com/essex-...ts-and-obs.php
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

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