Memorial benches to ‘secret army’

MEMORIAL benches honouring members of a secret wartime defence unit have been unveiled in Wareham.
A ceremony took place on November 14, when Councillor Barry Quinn officially unveiled the Binnegar Operational Base (OB) Memorial Benches, in Binnegar Lane.
The seats are a tribute to members of what is believed to have been an auxiliary unit based in the town during the Second World War.

Auxillary units were made up of volunteers and were trained to prepare for any potential Nazi invasion of the UK. Top-secret organisations, with members prohibited from speaking about their roles, little is known about the units.
However, it is known ‘patrols’ were set up in towns and villages across the country, featuring seven or eight people, each trained to avoid conflict during the early stages of an invasion before mounting a resistance and ultimate counter attack. Each patrol also built an operational base (OB) to house munitions and men in an attack.
In 2017, the remains of an OB was discovered during quarry excavation by Raymond Brown Quarry Products.
Experts were called in from Historic England, the county archaeologist and Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) to excavate the site.

This OB is now believed to be that of the Wareham Patrol, as local knowledge and research has not found any link to the East Stoke Platoon of the Home Guard. Research and investigations conducted by CART volunteers have shown there were a number of auxiliary unit OBs in Purbeck, with at least four patrols.
Now, two memorial benches have been constructed from blocks and ventilation pipes salvaged from the OB, with wood from a nearby oak tree.
They commemorate the men of the auxiliary unit who manned the OB but received no real recognition after the war.

Cllr Quinn said: “It has been a team effort involving volunteers from East Stoke and CART working with our sponsors Raymond Brown, Bindon Engineering and Holme Sawmill to deliver a community asset which both tells the historical narrative and provides a place of rest for users of the bridleway to take in the view.”
He said a special thanks to Raymond Brown Quarry Products, Holme Sawmill, British Resistance Archive, East Stoke Parish Council and Bindon Engineering.
Rob Westell, from Raymond Brown, added: “We hope the benches and interpretation board serve as a reminder of those prepared to lay down their lives for our country.”

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