Wartime resistance tale which must be told

I’m researching a unit formed during the early days of the Second World War.

Using the name Auxiliary Unit, this was actually a cover name for a resistance network which covered the whole of the UK, mainly in east and south coast areas.

Set up by Major Colin McVean Gubbins, suitable candidates were interviewed and recruited locally by Regular Army intelligence officers who appointed civilian group leaders to further recruit men they could trust and who knew their area intimately. Sworn to secrecy by the official secrets act of the time, training consisted of weapon handling, navigation, demolitions, as well as other skills.

Members wore civilian clothes during those months of 1940; but as they grew in number and started to become more organised and provide additional cover, they were issued with battledress uniforms and wore Home Guard shoulder titles. This was only a guise as they never came under Home Guard orders, but it did enable them to blend in with military movements in restricted areas.

Three battalions were formed – 201 GHQ Reserve Battalion covered all of Scotland and into Northumberland. Most members were in a reserved occupation and came from a wide and varied background, but included farmers, estate workers, blacksmiths, to name but a few. Operating from underground hides known as operational bases (OBs), they would work in six or eight-man cells and be tasked with causing as much mayhem as possible to the movement of the German occupation forces.

I’m particularly interested in finding out about patrols in the Selkirk and surrounding area and information on a Lieutenant J. Baird, from Galashiels, and Lieutenant J. Featherstone, from Newtown St Boswells.

HQ for the Border area was only given as care of GPO Melrose, although Hume Castle has been mentioned as a possible HQ location under the command of Captain Peter Forbes. Auxiliary Units all over the UK were stood down in 1944, but many younger members went on to volunteer and work with special forces units.

I would like to ask readers if they have any information, including photographs and memories from family members – no matter how trivial it may be to you, it could be the missing piece of the jigsaw that will help give deserved recognition for the work done by those individuals.

I know time has taken its toll and many are sadly no longer with us, but my book would give them the recognition deserved.

David Blair

54 Younger Gardens

St Andrews

Fife KY16 8AB

(01334 470599;