North Essex Answer
to a Nazi Invasion.
Published in the Essex County Standard Fri March 29 1968
One of the second world
war's best kept secrets is uncovered this week in a book which reveals
that scores of north Essex men, believed at the time to be Home Guards,
were in fact secretly recruited into a nationwide British resistance
organisation sworn to go underground if the Germans invaded
In "The Last Ditch," book by author, David Lampe gives a full
account of the preparation on both sides for a Nazi occupation of Britain.
He makes it clear that for the men of 203 Battalion, the Home Guard
uniform was merely a cover for cloak-and-dagger activity. It would have
afforded them no protection if they had ever been caught by occupying
||Bures butcher Mr Gordon
Drake, who would have been one of the leading resistance workers
in the Colchester area, said, this week that he and his colleagues
fully realised that they were "suicide boys."
"If this country had been invaded," he said, "the
seven people and myself picked for resistance work in the Bures
area, knew that we were just literally suicide boys"
"Our activities were a very closely-kept secret. My wife
knew about them because meetings were held in my house, but nobody
apart from ourselves knew that we had an underground hideout half
a mile outside the village.
We dug this at night, with three of our number acting as guards.
The hideout was five feet under the earth, and access was through
a long tunnel from a concealed trapdoor. My colleagues and I were
from all walks of life, and included a builder, a farmer and a slaughterman"
'Our brief was to carry out and to work at night. We would have
destroyed vehicles by planting high explosives on them, and were
instructed to avoid pitched battles."
The OB was then built in
the wooded grounds of Little Bevills on the edge of the village. It
was described as being five feet underground and was built by the patrol.
The entrance was through a trapdoor and along a tunnel. The trapdoor
had 12 inches of padding to prevent it sounding hollow if stepped on.
The ventilation shaft ran up inside a hollow oak tree. It was equipped
with bunks, oil lamps and a Primus stove. It is reported to have contained
a quarter ton of explosives and a couple of hundred hand grenades
Mr Drake added that he and
his colleagues would have disappeared from Bures immediately an invasion
occurred. Asked if they realised that this would almost certainly have
led to-Gestapo action against their m families, he replied: "We
knew full well that we would have become very unpopular with our fellow-villagers,
for reprisals would have been taken"
"Our greatest test was when we stayed down in our underground
base for 60 hours. It was furnished with bunks and other things, we
has a quarter of a ton of high explosives and a couple of hundred hand
"For civilians", said Mr Drake, "we were a
highly trained unit. We were trained in Wiltshire, but nobody was forced
into the work. Everybody who was approached had to sign the Official
Secrets Act, so that they would keep quiet about the whole business
if they decided not to take part."
Mr Drake was the Bures Commanding Officer and held the rank of Lieut.
Information courtesy of
Nigel and Evonne Drake (grandson)