Auxiliary Unit Timeline

This is a timeline of main events for Churchill's Auxiliary Units

Run British Resistance Archive

1939-09-03 11:15:00

Britain Declares War on Germany

Britain and France are at war with Germany following the invasion of Poland two days ago. At 1115 BST the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, announced the British deadline for the withdrawal of German troops from Poland had expired. He said the British ambassador to Berlin had handed a final note to the German government this morning saying unless it announced plans to withdraw from Poland by 1100, a state of war would exist between the two countries.

1940-05-10 00:05:15

Churchill becomes Prime Minister

Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom upon the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.

1940-05-14 15:37:59

Local Defence Volunteers Are Formed

The creation of the Local Defence Volunteers; (the Home Guard) is announced by the new Secretary of State for War Anthony Eden. It is mostly composed of the elderly and retired.

1940-05-25 15:37:59

Allied Forces Retreat To Dunkirk.

Between 26 May and 4 June 1940 338,226 troops were evacuated from the beaches and town of Dunkirk but without their heavy weapons, vehicles or equipment.

1940-06-25 00:00:00

The Fall of France

The Armistice signed on 22nd between France and Germany came into effect on 25th june..

1940-07-01 11:00:00

First Briefings of Intelligence Officers

The first meeting for the I/Os in Room 365 7, Whitehall Place. Briefings by Wilkinson and Gubbins. I/Os allotted their counties or areas and all given the rank of Captain

1940-07-01 13:50:15

Auxiliary Units Formed

1st Auxiliary commander Colin Gubbins, operating from room 217, 7 Whitehall Place, London, recruits about a dozen regional Captains as Intelligence Officers who would form the backbone of the newly created Auxiliary Units. Their mission was to find 30 or so reliable men and issue them with an assortment of explosives, weapons and vital supplies. These men became known as ‘dump owners’. The IO’s were to help the ‘dump owners’ to form cells of 5 or 6 men, to train them in the use of weapons and to provide the cells with some form of hideout. The high command HQ was located at Coleshill House near Swindon and this is where intensive training was undertaken.

1940-07-02 03:17:37

Captain Beyts Appointed By Gubbins

Captain Beyts is appointed as Gubbins GSO2. He collected staff and appointed IO's in the rank of Captain and then allowcated them to costal areas. Source: Nigel Oxenden

1940-07-02 13:00:29

Hitler Prepares Operation Sealion

Hitler orders preparation of plans for invasion of Britain, code-named Operation Sea Lion.

1940-07-10 04:45:29

Battle of Britain Begins

The Battle of Britain begins with Luftwaffe raids on channel shipping.

1940-07-16 00:00:00

Hitler Issues Directive 16

"As England, in spite of her hopeless military situation, still shows no signs of willingness to come to terms, I have decided to prepare, and if necessary to carry out, a landing operation against her. The aim of this operation is to eliminate the English Motherland as a base from which the war against Germany can be continued, and, if necessary, to occupy the country completely." The Operation will be called "Sealion"

1940-07-23 18:37:59

Home Guard" is officially established

The British "Home Guard" is officially established.

1940-08-01 17:30:29

Hitler Sets Date For Start Of Operation Sea Lion

Hitler sets 15 September as the date for Operation Sea Lion, the invasion of Britain.

1940-08-09 00:00:00

Temporary HQ

The GHQ moved some officers out of London and into Northgate House, Faringdon, Berkshire. Meetings held at the nearby Crown Inn GHQ moved to Coleshill House at the end of the month

1940-08-19 00:05:15

Captain Eustace Maxwell Sets Up Scottish Training HQ

On or just after the 19th of august 1940 Captain Eustace Maxwell set up the Scottish training HQ at Melville House. Training was intense at Melville House during the latter part of 1940 and into 1942, units from most of Scotland travelled there by rail or military transport, its rail link, was nearby at Ladybank.

1940-08-22 00:00:00


First load of stores & equipment on order by 9th August. Delivered to a nearby unit by 19th and received at Coleshill on the 20th, just in time for the first training course which began on Thursday 22nd and was run by Officers who travelled down from London.

1940-09-01 00:00:00

GHQ Moves into Coleshill house

Aux Units began using Coleshill House a 17th centuary Country House as GHQ and the Estate used for training. The move from London and Faringdon had began on about 20 August 1940. Auxiliers had to report to Mable Stranks at Highworth Post Office who reported their arrival'

1940-09-17 00:00:00

The End of Operation Sealion

Hitler became convinced the operation was not viable. Control of the skies was lacking, and coordination among three branches of the armed forces was out of the question. Later that day, Hitler ordered the postponement of the operation. He ordered the dispersal of the invasion fleet in order to avert further damage by British air and naval attacks.

1940-09-17 13:50:15

Hitler Postpones Future UK Invasion Plans

The Luftwaffe is defeated in the Battle of Britain and Hitler is forced to postpone the invasion on 17 September 1940 and then on 12 October 1940 postpone it until the following year.

1940-10-20 00:00:00


Lt Col Major takes over Command when Lt Col Gubbins leaves to become Director of Operations and Training at S.O.E.

1940-11-01 17:42:45

Lt Norman Field Starts At The Garth

Lt Colonel Norman Field starts at The Garth.

1941-03-01 12:34:46

Group Commander Courses Start At Coleshill

The first courses for group commanders start at Coleshill. Source: Nigel Oxenden

1941-11-01 12:34:46

First Aux Patrol Competition Started

The inter patrol competitions are set up for Aux Patrols

1942-02-20 00:00:00


The Hon Lord Glanusk arrived in his Rolls Royce to take over Command of Aux Units

1942-07-02 09:00:00

Lt. Col. Beyts

Lt. Col. G.H.B Beyts left the Aux. and Coleshill

1942-12-02 00:00:00

Northumberland OB's Complete

All O.B.s built by 184th Tunnelling Co complete in Northumberland

1943-02-01 00:00:00

Aux Call Up Exemption Ends

Auiliary Unit members are now no longer exempt from call up to the colours. This leads to problems within the organisation and conflict with the Home Guard who lost many of their best men.

1943-02-01 19:26:12

Patrol Leader Courses Start At Coleshill

25 courses are held over the next fifteen months attended by over 400 NCOs. Source: Nigel Oxenden

1943-08-01 00:00:00


Lt-Colonel Douglas takes over when Lord Glanusk relinquishes Command due to ill health. He remains in post until Coleshill is shut down on 16 January 1945.

1944-05-26 09:00:00

Patrol Leaders

The last ever Patrol Leaders course held at Coleshill House

1944-06-06 00:05:15

D Day

The biggest Amphibious Assault in the History of Warfare which ultimately ended the 2nd World War

1944-10-01 15:51:54

Nigel Oxenden Retires

Nigel Oxenden retires due to ill health. Later that year he was asked to write the official history of the AUx Units.

1944-11-01 21:43:20

Home Guard Are Stood Down

The Home Guard are stood down by the MOD

1944-11-18 14:51:54

Col Douglas Writes To Auxiliers

Col Douglas writes to Aux Unit members standing them down. From:- Colonel F.W.R. Douglas To:- The Members of Auxiliary Units – Operational Branch The War Office has ordered that the Operational side of Auxiliary Units shall stand down: This is due to the greatly improved War situation and the strategic requirements of the moment. I realise what joining Auxiliary Units has meant to you: so do the Officers under my command. You were invited to do a job which would require more skill and coolness, more hard work and greater danger, than was demanded of any other voluntary organisation. In the event of ‘Action Stations’ being ordered you knew well the kind of life you were in for. But that was in order: you were picked men, and otheres, including myself, knew that you would continue to fight whatever the conditions, with, or if necessary without, orders. It now falls to me to tell you that your work has been appreciated and well carried out: and that your contract, for the moment, is at an end. I am grateful to you for the way you have trained in the last four years. So is the Regular Army. It was due to you that more divisions left this country to fight the battle of France: and it was due to your reputation for skill and determination that extra risk was taken – successfully as it turned out – in the defence arrangements of this country during that vital period. I congratulate you on this reputation and thank you for this voluntary effort. In view of the fact that your lives depended on secrecy – no public recognition will be possible. But those in the most responsible positions at General Headquarters, Home Forces, know what was done: and what would have been done had you been called upon. They know it well, as is emphasized in the attached letter from the Commander –in-Chief. It will not be forgotten. 30 NOV 44 Colonel C/O G.P.O HIGHWORTH, Commander, Nr Swindon (Wilts) Auxiliary Units See bottom of page on link to read the letter.

1944-11-23 08:15:00

Victor Albert Gough

Former Nothumberland I/O V.A.Gough posted as "Missing in Action" Vosges, France. Part of Jedburgh Team-"Jacob" his alias was "Arran" S.O.E.

1945-01-20 00:00:00

IOW Aux Reunion

Approx 20 members of the Isle of Wight Aux patrols met for a Dinner at the Masonic Hall in Rdyde, including the leaders of about 10 patrols. The Aux Units national CO, Nigel Oxenden, was present and signed the dinner menu belonging to Jack Riddell (auxilier), along with other patrol members.

1946-02-27 19:00:00

Old Comrades Reunion

202 G.H.Q. Reserve Battalion, Home Guard to hold a Reunion dinner at the Beverley Arms Hotel. The first reunion of the East Riding of Yorkshire Auxiliers

1946-05-01 00:05:15

Coleshill House Bought by Mr E Cook

Shortly after the end of the Second World War. Coleshill House was purchased from the Playdell - Bouverie family by a Mr E Cook, a founding partner of the international travel Agency, Thomas Cook & Son. Six years later in the late summer of 1952, disaster struck and Coleshill House was no more.

Auxiliary Unit Timeline

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