Grange Patrol Log-Book
William Ingram kept a rare log of Auxunit training. His niece, Alison Smith has kindly donated the log to the Museum of the British Resistance Organisation at Parham and transcribed the hand-written notes. The full log can be viewed in Word format Grangelogbook.doc.
Grange Patrol Log Book - Alison Smith
Despite the formal policy of secrecy with regard to the Auxiliary Units, detailed unofficial information was discovered in 2003, in the form of a log book recording the activities of the Grange patrol from November 1941 until August 1944. Each entry in the log book relates to a meeting of the Patrol, recording its date and time, as well as a summary of the activities undertaken and a list of those present, identified by surname alone, perhaps as a concession to concerns over security.
George Fisher, schoolmaster at the Crossroads and a veteran of WW1, took charge as Lieutenant. The other members were:
Willie Ingram of Greenbog (Sergeant)
Sandy Pirie of Little Clerkseat (Corporal)
Donald Cruickshank (Farmer at Starhill)
Jock Henderson (Farm worker at Berrylees)
John Irvine (Farm worker at Stripeside)
Jimmy Munro (From Fortrie Croft, fee’d at Gordonston)
Jock Reid (Farm worker at Floors)
John Robertson (Farmer at Myrieton)
It’s impossible to be certain who was responsible for this unauthorised record: the prime suspect is George Fisher, who commanded the patrol. Although the log book was found amongst paperwork in Willie Ingram’s desk at Greenbog, there is a little doubt as to whether it’s definitely his handwriting.
Since the original log book is a unique historical document, it was sent for safe keeping to the Museum of the British Resistance Organisation at Parham in Suffolk, where it’s accessible to anyone interested in the history of the Auxiliary Units.
Lecture on patrol. Lt. Cochrane.
Sgt Morrison 19.30 – 21.30
19.30 – 22.45
Map reading. Message sending
19.30 – 22.00
The first entry is dated 4th November 1941 (a Tuesday), when George Fisher, Willie Ingram, Sandy Pirie, Jock Reid and Donald Cruickshank met at 7.30pm for training on the Browning machine gun mechanism. The entry for the following week records that a lecture on patrol was delivered by Lt. Cochrane (commander of the Spey Bay patrol), who was accompanied by Sgt. Morrison. By 18th November there were two additional members: John Robertson and Jimmy Munro, and the evening was devoted to patrol exercises from 7.30pm until 10.45pm. A couple of weeks later the unit had their first training in “demolitions – method, practice” and on 16th December were introduced to “thuggery practice” – otherwise known as unarmed combat, silent killing and similar activities not normally expected of country gentlemen. Their first experience of “grenade throwing” came just a week later, and on 22nd February 1942 they had progressed to using live grenades. The final members, Jimmy Irvine and Jock Henderson joined the patrol on 10th March and 7th April respectively.
The log book indicates that it was rare for any of the members to miss training sessions, but on 24th March 1942 there were three absentees: Willie Ingram, Donald Cruickshank and John Robertson. Both Willie and John later spoke about having made a journey together to the Auxiliary Units training centre at Coleshill and although John had forgotten exactly when this took place, he did remember the exceptionally cold weather. It seems by far the most likely explanation for their absence on 24th March.
From the spring of 1942 the Grange patrol met twice each week, usually on Tuesday evenings and Sundays, and in different locations depending on the training activity. The Gallowhill quarry was a favoured place for “demolitions” and “booby traps”, with Burnend quarry also being used occasionally. Mill of Paithnick seems to have been the most popular location for “grenade throwing”. Indoor meetings, usually for training in map-reading, were held either at Crossroads School or at the West Church Hall at Gallowhill. Their first “away” exercise was recorded on Saturday 28th March 1942 at Strathmill in Keith. There is no detail given as to the nature of the exercise, which lasted from 9pm until 1.30am the next morning.
As the months went by the members of the Grange patrol gradually increased the range of their specialist skills. In addition to those already mentioned, their activities included “message sending & decoding”, “pistol practice” “stripping & reassembling grenades”, “tree felling”, “rifle firing” “target practice”, “telephone wire sabotage” “fitting booby traps”, “daylight movement” “ambushes and camouflage”, “switch setting”.
Although it was intended that each unit should operate in isolation, there were many occasions when neighbouring patrols took part in joint exercises. One of these took place late at night on 21st November 1942 when members of Grange and Deskford units defended an OB at Muldearie against attackers from Clochan. In fact, there are quite a number of unofficial reports of the Grange patrol operating not only in conjunction with Deskford and Clochan, but in areas covered by other patrols, so it’s quite clear that there was good communication between units in this part of the country.
Some log book entries are frustratingly vague, such as the one for Monday 25th May 1942, which simply states “Scheme at Kinloss”, beginning at 8pm and lasting until 6 the next morning. The outcome isn’t reported in the log book, but years after the war, Grange patrol members spoke with pride of their success in penetrating airfield defences at Kinloss and chalking swastika marks on aircraft tyres as evidence of their achievement! A “Scheme at Cullen” on 28th May 1942 almost certainly involved the Deskford patrol and probably others from the area.
Although they were largely confined to the immediate locality during the winter, their activities could take them much further afield in the warmer months. On April 3rd 1943 they made a foray north to Deskford, where they carried out an attack on parked vehicles. The Deskford patrol usually seemed to come off worse in encounters against Grange, as on 20th May 1944 when the Grange patrol reported 100% success on their part, and again on 9th June when they successfully resisted an attack by their Deskford counterparts.
During the summer weekend camps were arranged and the usual meetings were suspended on these occasions, as most patrol members were at camp, e.g. on 19th July 1942 and again on 2nd August. A series of exercises in daylight movement in the spring of 1942 took them to Darnaway, Spey Bay and Banff and two field days were held in June of the same year at Marnoch – which suggests the existence of another patrol with its base there. A further field day is recorded at Rothiemay in April 1944.
It’s not clear from the log book when their first Operational Base was constructed at the Gallowhill. There’s certainly no record of patrol members being involved in building it, so this may well have been done by army engineers. The first time it’s mentioned in the log book is in the entry for 5th May 1942, when the patrol were engaged in “stripping wood in O.B.” During the second half of August that year there were several sessions of “drying and painting O.B.”, after which no further maintenance is recorded that year. A number of exercises involved attacks on the OB, so perhaps these contributed to its deterioration. There were 2 instances of “work on OB” recorded in August 1943, which may refer to the original Gallowhill hideout, but the log book entry for 3rd October is the first of many indicating a long period of “OB construction” which was almost certainly at the new Roehill site. Work continued regularly throughout the winter, almost to the exclusion of other activities. On 27th December the patrol took advantage of John Robertson’s tractor to help with shifting materials for the new OB, which seems to have been more or less complete by 16th May 1944, when the tractor again proved useful for “transport of operational stores to OB”. Nevertheless, the log book entries indicate that construction work at Roehill continued almost until the end of July.
The dedication of this hardy little bunch is something that stands out from reading the log book. They met for training in all seasons and all weathers, with very few exceptions. However, the entry for 21st September 1943 reveals that the Grange patrol members occasionally had higher priorities than resisting the Nazis: “no parade owing to harvest”. Snow prevented them meeting on 27th February and 5th March 1944, and may also have been the “bad weather” which prevented work on the OB on the 12th December 1943. Unspecified “weather conditions” were responsible for the usual meeting being abandoned on 8th August 1944. The second Tuesday in August was the customary date for Keith Agricultural Show, by far the most important social event for all Banffshire farmers, even during the war years. Perhaps the Grange patrol members had concluded that, with D-day some 2 months past, there would be no risk to national security if they were to interrupt their routine for a day at Keith Show.
The final entry in the log book is for 17th August 1944, when all members of the patrol were present at the West Church for “revolver firing”.
The lack of official documentation relating to the Auxiliary Units them is a serious obstacle to students of history. Whoever was responsible for the existence of the Grange Patrol log book has made an immeasurably valuable contribution to preserving their memory.
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