WW2 Secret Army Remembered on Kent Footpath

10/03/2023
Tenterden News
WW2 Secret Army Remembered on Kent Footpath
Hole Park Estate, Rolvenden

The work and valour of a secretive WW2 Auxiliary Patrol has been remembered with the erection of a display board at a prominent footpath on the Hole Park Estate in Rolvenden.

In the dark days of the Second World War in 1940, Britain stood alone, with its Empire, against the might of Nazi Germany. The British Army had been defeated in France and withdrawn from the beaches of Dunkirk and France had fallen. Prime Minister Winston Churchill braced the country for the invasion which would surely come. The German Army assembled their invasion barges in northern France and The Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe fought the Battle of Britain. In his famous speeches to Parliament at that time Churchill said: “we shall fight in the fields and in the streets we shall fight in the hills we shall never surrender”. This was to be Britain’s “finest hour”.

To strengthen the defences of the country the Home Guard was formed, local volunteers defending the home territory and from within that force sprang the resistance cells, highly trained and motivated teams who would rise up behind any German invasion which seemed so inevitable, to harass them; Churchill’s Auxiliary Units were born.

A patrol of local men was raised in Rolvenden whose patrol base was an underground bunker located in woodland on the Hole Park Estate built in 1940 by Welsh miners. Few were allowed to know of its existence and everything proceeded in the greatest secrecy. Many members of the patrol never spoke of their involvement for the rest of their lives but Fungus Patrol, based in Rolvenden served from 1940 until it merged with the Tenterden Patrol mid war. Sworn to secrecy their activities went largely unnoticed, with little or no recognition of their role in strengthening Britain. Post war their bases were demolished and the units faded into history.

A QR code allows aviators to link direct to an informative web page for further detail.

The board was the idea of and funded by Hole Park’s owner, Edward Barham.
“I had long been wondering how I could commemorate Fungus Patrol, whose base was in thick woodland on the estate. As the patrol fortunately saw no action and, so far as I am aware, no one was killed or injured, a typical memorial was inappropriate, so with encouragement from others I came up with the idea of linking a simple board to the web site."

“As children in the 1970’s, my brothers and I used to visit the base, prior to its collapse; perhaps we too could be heroes of the hour as we played games. It had been destroyed after the war but they had not done a very good job, so we could easily crawl into it.”

“It makes me shiver to think how brave the members of the patrol were. Had the German army arrived in Britain they almost certainly had just a few days to live as they would have been hunted to extinction.”


Sadly, the existence of the patrol base was little known about until stories began slipping out in the late 20th century, such was the code of honour and silence made by those involved.

The Rolvenden patrol base location remains a secret, but the sign is located at a vantage point called ‘Top of the World’, looking out over the valley in which the base was located on footpath AT59, approximately half a mile north of The Bull public house in Rolvenden, at Grid Refence TQ843323

 

Fungus Patrol, Rolvenden - Hole Park

Edward Barham, owner of Hole Park Estate, by the new Informatino Board

 

Fungus Patrol, Rolvenden - Hole Park

Rolvenden Auxiliary Unit Operational Base prior to its collapse

 

Fungus Patrol, Rolvenden - Hole Park

Reconstructed Auxiliary Unit Operational Base
Photo courtesy of the British Resistance Organisation Museum, Parham

 

Fungus Patrol, Rolvenden - Hole Park

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