In a month that has seen the passing of two Auxiliary Units veterans (Bob Millard and Ron Martin), the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) is sad to announce the passing of Ted Jefferies, writes Andrew Chatterton.
Ted was a Boy Scout during WWII, and too young to enlist, his war was spent in the market town of Highworth in Wiltshire. However, his war was not as mundane as it immediately appears, as Highworth and the nearby Coleshill House, were at the centre of one of the most secret organisations of the Second World War, the British Resistance or Auxiliary Units, as they were known.
The aim for the Auxiliary Units was to have small groups of highly trained, well armed men who in the event of an invasion would disappear to their operational bases hidden beneath the British countryside.
They would wait for the invasion to literally pass over them and then appear at night to disrupt the enemy supply chain, destroy transport and supplies, ‘deal’ with collaborators and generally make a nuisance of themselves to allow the regular army to counter-attack.
In order to get the level of skill needed a training camp was required and Coleshill House, less than three miles from Highworth, was selected as the perfect location. All of those that volunteered signed the Official Secrets Act and told no one of their activities, not even their closest family and friends.
Such was the secrecy surrounding the units and Coleshill that much of the communication that took place could not be done by the usual methods, and so physical notes had to be passed between HQ and various locations in the local area.
Ted was recruited as a secret messenger for the Auxiliaries. Too young to sign the Official Secrets act (Ted was 13 when he first joined), he had to give the Scouts oath as he was sworn to secrecy.
As a local Boy Scout it was hoped that in the event of an invasion he was unlikely to attract the unwanted suspicions of the Germans, but his uniform would mean that he was easily identifiable by those who trained at Coleshill.
He had other features that would mark him out to those ‘in the know’. One was a knife with the deer antler handle that hung on his Scout belt. The knife itself was not all it seemed as under the deer antler handle was not a run of the mill knife, but a Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife – the chosen fighting knife of the Auxiliary Units.
Ted was allowed one confidant; a school friend and fellow secret messenger called Grace Eeies. Together they delivered messages between Coleshill and various locations in the area.
Obviously not yet driving, getting around the countryside quickly was a challenge. A bike was out of the question because of war shortages, so Ted’s favourite method of transport was his roller-skates.
With so much travelling the wheels soon got worn out. Such was the importance of his role and his method of transport that GHQ even obtained a new set from the US so that he could continue his essential duties.
After the war Ted’s clandestine duties continued as he was called up into the RAF and acted as a courier for Winston Churchill. Guarding, servicing and delivering wire recorders, an early version of the tape recorder, being used during Churchill’s post war negotiations.
Ted kept his Boy Scout promise to keep absolutely silent about his role never letting on anything until his later years when he was asked.
A full review of his life can be found here (http://www.coleshillhouse.com/ted-jefferies-the-boy-scout-with-a-secret.php).
Ted passed away on Friday 21 March 2014, and along with Bob and Ron will be sadly missed by all in the Auxiliary Unit community.