Wilfred Ensum - SDS

Wilfred Ensum may have been in the Auxiliary Units Special Duties Section. As there are no records available to the public, it's hard to prove this conclusively. However, his great-nephew has some pretty interesting evidence...

William Ensum LDV enrollment

I inherited a lot of military stuff from my Great Uncle who was captured in the first world war and then served in the Home Guard in the second. Amongst those documents were two letters which intrigued me but until I saw a television documentary I did not understand what they really meant. The letters relate to the disbandment of the Auxiliary Units Special Duties and are addressed to him. He was a farmer in Sussex and it seems he was a member of this unit.

My Great Uncle's name was Wilfred Walter Ensum and he was a farmer at the time of WWII in a small village called Hurst Green, near Etchingham in East Sussex.

He was called up during the First World War and joined the East Surrey Regiment. He was captured shortly after arriving in France towards the end of the war and spent the rest of WWI in a prisoner of war camp.

When I was younger I spoke to him often about his war days however he never mentioned this at all and after speaking to my Grandfather it seems he never mentioned it to anyone. If these letters had not been kept no one would have known. 


I have spoken to my Grandfather and he cannot remember Wilfred being in the Home Guard yet I have his armband and these documents which seem to indicate that he was.

I was speaking to my mother who grew up on the farm that Wilfred farmed (London Barn Farm) which is located between the villages of Hurst Green and Ticehurst in East Sussex. She told me that she discovered a hiding place when she was playing as a kid near the farm. It sounded like it was too small for an OB as it would have only accommodated one person but it was brick lined and really well hidden and in the middle of nowhere with no useful purpose other than for hiding in.

Stand-down letter - Douglas, click for full size image


Stand-down letter - Franklyn, click for full size image I made enquiries through the Auxunit News website but it looks like Wilfred's wartime service will remain a secret. This is John Warwicker's advice:

"As for Wilfred Ensum, it is safe to conclude that he (or someone very close to him from whom he may have received the SDS corres) was indeed in the SDS. The long term quality of secrecy imposed on him would have precluded any talk to anyone about it, ever, under normal circumstances. 

There is no point at all in trying to trace records, or a Department that will acknowledge his Service. The SDS was not subject to a twenty five year rule but secrecy would have been demanded for ever. It was understood that, a breach of that embargo might call down draconian retaliation. His was probably uniquely patriotic service, now best left alone, as he would have wished." 



Mike Jones

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