Saturday, March 22, 2014

British resistance leader passes on

Jeff emails to point out a fascinating obituary of Bob Millard, member of the World War II British resistance.  I hadn't even known there was one of those:
Bob Millard, who has died aged 91, was a teenager in the Home Guard in 1940 when he was approached by a friend and asked if he wanted to join “something a bit more interesting”; the “something” was a secret group, the British Resistance Organisation, also known as the Auxiliary Units, composed of civilian saboteurs who would go into hiding and carry out guerrilla operations behind the lines in the event of a German invasion.
It was shortly after British forces had beaten a desperate retreat from Dunkirk that Winston Churchill ordered a battle-hardened colonel called Colin Gubbins to form the new organisation. At the time German forces were only 25 miles across the Channel and invasion seemed imminent. Unlike other, often poorly disciplined, freelance resistance movements that sprang up across Nazi-controlled Europe, Churchill was determined that the British version would be state-sponsored and meticulously planned in advance.
The whole article is well worth your time, and includes a video of Millard speaking about his time in the BRO.  Jeff adds some background which is equally interesting:
As a boy, I went to a military school. Around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I heard reference to a "Book of Rules" which would come into effect if Britain were ever invaded. It had all been worked out in WWII, and one of the Masters would take care of selected senior boys who would be given special training. I was very young and would not be called on, at least at first; and in any case I would first have to learn how to fire my Lee-Enfield without being driven back six inches by recoil every time the thing went off. But in the meantime my rural origins were of interest, and would I carry on creeping up on deer and woodland animals to see how close I could get before I startled them?

(Fifty years on I still, without meaning to, arrive at peoples' side without them suspecting, and have to hold them down before they rise into low earth orbit in fright.)

Now I know what the Book of Rules was about.
 It could not be done now, I fear.
Anyhoo, Bob Millard was one of those who formed the British stay-behind Resistance, though they were never called on. 

I recognise the chaps in the two group photographs as if I knew them personally: competent toughs from my childhood.
It's said that the past is a foreign country.  Fair winds and following seas to Mr. Millard.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

There are a lot of folks that did things we still don't and maybe never will know about... But it was their job and they did it and stayed silent about it... May he RIP, knowing he never had to actually do the deeds required!