From: Evelyn Simak Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 12:29 PM
Dear ValThank you very much for your prompt response, greatly appreciated! I don't think that publishing my enquiry on your website would help much because nobody would have known about Mr Coe's secret activities, if indeed it was him. As you are saying, his pupils would certainly not have known what he was up to. Mr Coe would in all likelihood not have told anybody about his activities (only very few of the people involved ever did - they had to sign the Official Secrets Act and were told never ever to tell anybody, not even close family). But it might help to ask a few general questions, such as was Mr Coe schoolmaster during the war? Confirmation that he was the schoolmaster would confirm that he was the radio operator.
In 1940, Churchill and selected officers decided to set up a secret underground organisation (like the Maquis, but they came later) in the event of an enemy invasion, in all areas where an invasion was most likely to happen - all along the east coast, including Scotland, and all along the south coast. The organisation was divided into two parts, which knew nothing of each other. One was to harass and sabotage, the other was to spy on the enemy. They were given the nondescript name "Auxiliary Units".
The candidates for the sabotage part were mostly recruited from the Home Guard and they operated under the cover of the Home Guard. They consisted of groups of four to eight men (called operational patrols), all civilians, who were trained in guerrilla fighting. They had underground hideouts which were extremely well hidden. In the event of an invasion, they were to leave their homes and retreat to their hideouts. From there, they were to harass the enemy, always at night. They had food and ammunition for about three weeks. If caught they would have been tortured and shot. I have, together with a friend, found most of the hideouts here in Norfolk and also in Suffolk.
At the same time a spy network was set up. These spies were to observe and report any enemy sightings, troop movements etc. The spies were also civilians. They were to hide their reports in secret dead letter drops, where they were collected by other spies, so-called runners. The runners took the messages to other dead letter drops until they reached a wireless operator. Each area had several. The runners did not know who had provided the messages they were carrying and they did not know where these messages ended up. So everybody knew only very little about the whole set-up and, if caught, they could not endanger any others.
The operators had their wireless set hidden somewhere in their house or in an outbuilding. These kinds of stations were called OUT-Stations. The operators were civilians, usually people who had a good excuse to be out and about a lot, such as doctors, or vicars. They used their wireless set to pass on any information they received to a so-called IN-Station, operated by Royal Signals or ATS officers. Each area had an IN-Station which was served by its own network of OUT-Stations.
The IN-Station passed any information received from their OUT-Stations to the Army HQ they were attached to. The operators never met each other and they did not know any of the other locations. This part of the organisation was called the Special Duties Branch.
The IN-Station operators worked from a hut that looked like a meteorological hut, with barometric charts on the walls. Nobody knew what really happened in there. In the event of an invasion, the operators were to hide in a nearby dugout and work from there. Like the operational patrols, they had food and water for three weeks.
Norfolk had one such IN-Station, it was (still is) near Norwich (some of the information in the article below needs updating but it will give you an idea.)
Some of the OUT-Stations serving it have been identified - one was in Aylsham and another in Aldborough (both run by doctors); another was in Southrepps (run by the vicar); and another in the Weybourne area - probably Mr Coe.
|Val Fiddian <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: