Creech Barrow Seven


 In the darkest hours of the war when an invasion from Nazi Germany seemed likely, Prime Minister Winston Churchill conceived the idea of units of ‘stay-behind’ guerrilla fighters who would wage war from behind enemy lines in the event of a German invasion. Fighting patrols of six to eight men, led by a sergeant, were set up throughout the country but especially in coastal areas along the south coast. The ideal recruits, who were mostly found in the ranks of the Home Guard, were men in reserved occupations such as farm workers, who knew the local area and were physically fit.

 These units were trained in guerrilla tactics at Duntish Court , a country house at Buckland Newton. Their mission was to harass the invaders’ lines of communication and supply for as long as possible. They were trained to use explosives for demolition and sabotage purposes, and operated from remote secret bases. There were 40 such units in Dorset, including two in Purbeck and several in the Wareham area.

 While the home guard were struggling to obtain a rifle and five rounds of ammunition  to share between a platoon, the ‘Auxiliary units’, as they were known, were well supplied with small arms, explosives, sniping rifles and fighting knives. Each unit was supplied with a base built by members of the Royal Engineers who were brought in by night from elsewhere in the country so that the site could never be identified. A base was typically in woodland away from public roads. It was built underground from concrete blocks and corrugated sheets and would be heavily camouflaged. Fifty yards away would be a one man bunker equipped with a telephone  that enabled the unit  to receive orders and pass on intelligence. You can still see the remains of Kilwood coppice where the ‘Creech Barrow Seven’ as they became known hid and the site where their secret bunker was located.

 The Creech Barrow Seven were Sergeant Fred Simpson, Corporal Doug Green and Privates Les Green, Eli Kitkatt, Wilf Stockley, Harold Hatchard and John Hatchard.  Absolute secrecy was integral to the Auxiliary Units’ work and the families of the Creech Seven were given no idea where they had gone or what they were doing when they disappeared for days at a time. It was more than thirty years before they spoke of their secret past. Ken Williams, the brother-in-law of Sgt Fred Simpson, uncovered the story of the men of East Creech.

 A ceremony led by Sir Jimmy James to unveil a Purbeck stone memorial was held at the site near the cross roads at East Creech. It was attended by relatives of the seven men and soldiers from Bovington Army Camp. The money for the event was raised by the Royal British Legion and from local donations. The Rev Ian Jackson from Corfe Castle presided over a short ceremony to dedicate the stone

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The memorial stone to the Creech Barrow Seven

References

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/8124391.Purbeck_s__secret_seven__were_war_heros/

http://www.dorsetlife.co.uk/2009/11/staying-behind/

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