Tracking down members of the Auxiliary Units, 'Churchill's Secret Army', in the Yorkshire Coast area

In 1940 the prospect of a Nazi invasion was a very real one. Britain, having lost most of its military equipment in the Dunkirk evacuation, was to all intents and purposes, on its knees.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 2:13 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 2:14 pm

The Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), later renamed as the Home Guard, had just been formed, famously armed with pitchforks and ancient weapons.

However, a group of civilian volunteers were being gathered together to help resist the initial stages of any invasion.

The Auxiliary Units were patrols of six to eight men in reserved occupations or under or over the age to join the regular forces. They were formed into units the length of the country, from

An Auxiliary Unit in Hampshire
An Auxiliary Unit in Hampshire

The Shetlands to Cornwall, along the east and south coasts, with the full support of Churchill.

When the Germans entered their area, these men would have disappeared to their Operational Base, an underground bunker, and waited for the Germans to pass overhead.

They would come out at night to cause as much chaos as possible, destroying transport and transport routes, blowing up ammunition or food dumps, destroying airfields and causing as much disruption as possible to slow down the advance and give the regular forces time to recover and counter-attack.

Their life expectancy was for just around a fortnight at most – essentially a suicide mission.

Block chamber in Hunstrete, Somerset Picture: CART

They were highly trained in sabotage and silent killing (some patrols had weapons to take out high ranking German officials and even British collaborators).

Each man had to sign the Official Secrets Act and told their nearest relatives and friends nothing of their role, with most going to the grave without ever saying a word.

They were usually men who knew the local countryside intimately, farmers, farm workers, gamekeepers and even poachers.

Now a group of volunteer researchers have found some evidence of such a group of civilian volunteers in the Scarborough area.

The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) have identified patrols in Flixton, Wold Newton and Kilham.

The names associated with the patrols in the Scarborough area are listed below with some of their dates of birth and even occupation:


Sgt William Found

Cpl Eric Barker

Pte Jack Rudd

Pte George Ellis

Pte Jack Stephenson

Pte George William Sellers

Pte John Oxendale Tindall

Wold Newton:

Sgt Louis Chapman (15/08/1892) – Farmer

Cpl Henry Streets (17/07/1914) – Farm Worker

Pte John Topham Elgey (19/05/1914) – Farmer

Pte Fred Sellers (28/09/1926) – Farm Worker

Pte Arthur William Sellers (31/08/1924) – Farm Worker


Sgt Harry Middlewood (03/05/1915) – Agricultural Worker

Cpl Leslie Robert Smith (23/02/1922) – Agricultural Worker

Pte Philip Lamplugh Wilson (15/09/1909) – Agricultural Worker

Pte Arthur H Carr (29/10/1921) – Agricultural Worker

Pte Donald Wilson (05/08/1908) – Agricultural Worker

Pte Douglas William Gray (13/11/1918) – Agricultural Worker

Andrew Chatterton, of CART, said: “If there are any relatives of these men, people who remember playing in underground ‘bunkers or shelters’ as children, or any local rumours of secret wartime activity, we would love to hear from them.

“If you do have any information, memories or knew any of the men listed please contact [email protected]

The volunteers have evidence of other patrols locally, in the Bridlington and Ryedale areas; you can see it HERE