LATER STAGES 1941-44
Once the German plans for an early invasion of Britain had been deferred, the immediate need for Auxunits had passed, and they were able to concentrate on the construction of their permanent bases, training and the acquisition of their weapons and explosives.
Local training largely took place at night, the patrols moving silently about their area, learning its characteristics and byeways and practising the arts of demolition on tree trunks, abandoned railway tracks and derelict vehicles. Any 'nasty sounds of banging' were attributed by the local population to stray enemy aircraft discharging their bomb load before returning home.
Patrols also participated in group training and frequently assisted the Military in 'their areas with exercises or 'schemes', often playing their intended roles of saboteurs or guerrillas.
The Auxunit poet celebrated one such exercise in verse, declaiming how his patrol embarked in boats on the River Taw to attack the nearby RAF Station at Chivenor. Having placed their small charges on the runways, they departed unobserved. Later, during a feint attack on the main entrance, they were taken 'prisoner' and subjected to RAF hospitality in the Mess. Their captors were commiserating with them on their failed raid, when the delayed action charges exploded.
As 1944 approached the threat of invasion receded, although the patrols were maintained in a state of readiness. Gradually, some of their stores, particularly PHE (Plastic High Explosive) and delay mechanisms were called in for use by the invasion troops or by the European Resistance. Meanwhile, the Intelligence Officers and their teams had been disbanded and posted to other units, many joining the SOE or SAS Regiment, where they applied their skills in clandestine operations in occupied Europe.
It was considered, however, that there was a possibility, albeit remote, that the Germans could mount a counter-invasion against southern England, and Auxunits were alerted prior to D-Day. Some North Country patrols were moved to the Isle of Wight, which could have become a prime target, to increase the Auxunit presence there, and they carried out some preparatory work which, in the event, was not needed. Patrols in the south-west were also put on stand-by against a possible enemy air landing.
By November 1944, the fighting on the Continent was sufficiently advanced for the Auxiliary Units to be stood down. Their weapons and explosives (some, not all) were collected, any doubtful explosives being carefully destroyed.
In that month, most County battalions held a standing down parade in their County town, where they were they were addressed by their Colonel-Commandant and individually presented with 'Home Guard' certificates (although they were still not members). Of greater personal value to them were the letters sent to each Auxiliary which confirmed and emphasised the secret nature of their duties. What had begun in secrecy ended in secrecy, and it was not until April 1945 that the existence of the British Resistance Movement was released to the Press.
When Defence Medals were issued to members of the Home Forces, Auxiliaries were overlooked, as they still had no official standing.
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