Auxiliary Units Timeline


Major Laurence Grand of The Royal Engineers, set up a secret department in the Foreign Office known as ‘D’ Section to investigate the possibilities of guerrilla and resistance warfare.

1939 to 1940

Grand’s men scatter haphazard Ammunition and Supply dumps all over the country to be used by ‘stay behind parties’ in the event of invasion

Spring 1940

General Sir Andrew Thorne. of the Grenadier Guards, was tasked with setting up a defensive force on the South Coast. He formed XII Observation Corp to defend Kent and Sussex from  the threat of Nazi invasion.

Summer 1940

Hitler prepares for the invasion of Britain . Codenamed ‘Operation Sealion’ and Captain Eustace Maxwell was trained in sabotage and demolition and dispatched to Scotland to establish the Scottish resistance

Late 1940

Colonel Gubbins (see above) names the UK Resistance forces ‘The Auxiliary Units’ and set about establishing training and supplies under the guise of the Home Guard. He transformed Coleshill House, Berkshire, into the organisations headquarters. He was later moved from the Resistance to set up the Special Operations Executive and replaced by Colonel CR ‘Bill’ Major


Special Duties Section emerges with the function of spying and passing on by radio troop movements etc using SOE developed one time code pads. Operation Sealion postponed indefinitely as the Luftwaffe could not gain control over the sky of Britain.General Montgomery gains command of the XII Corps on the South Coast and expands the idea of ‘Hideouts’ to other areas.

February 1942

Colonel Major moves on and Colonel The Lord Glanuk takes command of the Auxiliary Units and releases the Countryman’s Diary’ – a clandestine sabotage and resistance ‘instruction’ manual.  Colonel  The Lord Glanuk later during 1932 had a Heart attack and was replaced by Colonel Frank Douglas. During 1942 Commander Ryder attended training at Coleshill House to learn explosives training for his upcoming mission ‘Operation Chariot’

1942 – 1943

Women are recruited into the Special Duties Section as radio operators and spies and the Organisation evolves into to clearly defined ‘sides’ – that of fighting and that of spying.

1943 – 1944

The Auxiliary Units begin to disband as the threat of invasion recedes, many members join the SOE and Commandos, and although they were offered to parachute into France ahead of D-Day and many volunteered for this, none actually did.

14th April 1945

The Times ran an article of official acknowledgement of the Auxiliary Units in its paper but this was over shadowed by other events in the theatres of War.

November 1945

The Auxiliary Units finally completely stood down and the majority of the Hideouts destroyed.

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Modified: 23rd Aug 2012