Churchill's secret army

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London, Jan 11 (ANI): Winston Churchill ordered recruitment of ordinary people from all walks of life, including clergymen, farmers and housewives, with one mission: to sabotage and kill the Nazis if they invaded Britain.

The guards would have been Britain's last line of defence, the Daily Express reported.

The use of Home Guard uniforms was a cover. These were men of a specially trained, highly secret force who would be the first line of resistance when the Germans invaded Britain (as was expected, even by then Prime Minister Winston Churchill).

But to compare these tough resistance fighters to the Home Guard is, in the words of one senior officer at the time, "like comparing the Brigade of Guards to the Salvation Army".

Even today, much remains secret about the activities of these men and women who were trained in the lethal techniques of guerrilla warfare. Now a new book by John Warwicker, a 78-year-old retired Scotland Yard Special Branch officer, tells the fascinating story of the Auxiliary Units using documents only recently declassified.

The units had a single purpose -- to cause as much chaos behind enemy lines as possible in the event of a German invasion.

The defeat of the British Army in 1940 - when the then-invincible Germans drove it back to Dunkirk, where it was rescued by a flotilla of "little ships" - left the country vulnerable and an easy prey.

Had the Germans invaded - and they stood in force on the French coast waiting only for a signal from Hitler - the regular forces in Britain, so depleted in men and equipment after Dunkirk, could not have withstood them, the paper said.

Faced with this situation, Churchill ordered that a force of civilian volunteers be trained to operate from secret underground bases located behind the enemy lines.

The most ideal recruits would be countrymen - farmers, foresters, gamekeepers and even poachers. But this was soon widened to include men and women from all walks of life.

By the time the Auxiliary Units were finally stood down in 1944, their ranks included every section of society: clergymen, schoolmasters, university lecturers, butchers, car salesmen, students and housewives.

Churchill chose Colonel Colin Gubbins as the officer to set up the secret unit in the event of Operation Sea Lion, the Nazis' planned invasion of Britain. He was the perfect choice for the assignment and was described as a "real Highland toughie, bloody brilliant".

Preparation and training for the Auxiliary Units was carried out in total secrecy, much of it at Coleshill House, near Highworth in Wiltshire, in the fine Palladian former home of the Earl of Radnor's family. It was here that ­recruits to the "Auxunits" learned the dark arts of guerrilla warfare. (ANI)

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