Army cadets: special forces... The boy 'stay behind' commandos

#1
A journalist I work with is currently researching various aspects of the wartime SOE's domestic operations including the formation of Churchill's Auxiliary network. Whilst shuffling through papers recently released at Kew he came upon some rather interesting facts regarding the cold war version of these 'stay behind' units... including a group made up of ACF personnel.

From what I can gather the highly contentious decision to form a youth 'resistance' came just after the U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed the first directive for financial assistance to aid opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan in 1979.

Clearly there was little confidence in the SALT 2 agreement as a feasibility study was conducted with the assistance of a Col C**** of the Hants and IOW ACF.

As a result of his study a recommendation was made that a number of detachments would be established consisting of boys between the ages of 13 and 17. They would be selected via a series of ACF Pentathlon competitions and thereafter possible candidates would be interviewed and loaded onto what was described as a Duke of Edinburgh course. The tricky question of parental consent was largely ignored although permission slips were issued to cover the week long 'DoE expedition' .

Details regarding training are vague at this stage but from what he could gather, should the balloon go up, the role of these cadets would primarily be as couriers, however additional Surveillance and Reconnaissance training was provided by DS from Hereford.

There were further references to conduct after capture and SF MATTS although there are no details at this stage.

The operation was given the designation 'Zulu' Force(?) and an office was set up in Duke of York Barracks in Chelsea. The CoC is unclear although it would appear that the three personnel (one civilian) were in regular contact with DSF who was located in the same building.

Stranger than fiction...
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#3
It's no secret, I did my green lid when I was in the ATC and learned how to do aerial bombing from a Vigilant glider.
 
#4
Frankly, I don't believe it.

Sounds far too much like typical "Cadet Dreams", and not enough like "Sensible Idea".

Do you have any proof?
 
#5
Frankly, I don't believe it.

Sounds far too much like typical "Cadet Dreams", and not enough like "Sensible Idea".

Do you have any proof?
Apparently the relevant papers have recently been released into the public domain at kew.
I'll probably get an earful from the journo in question for 'breaking' the story here as I understand that one of the broadsheets is going to feature the story.
 

Subsunk

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#6
I think the idea is mental but charming. There would be no shortage of cadet volunteers, but upon the balloon going up they'd be too busy being vaporised, burnt or fatally irradiated to do the job.
 
#7
Apparently the relevant papers have recently been released into the public domain at kew.
I'll probably get an earful from the journo in question for 'breaking' the story here as I understand that one of the broadsheets is going to feature the story.
I really don't think this is genuine. Too much of it doesn't ring true. I will wait until it hits the broadsheet before further comment. My guess is it will be a long wait.
 
#8
Is it 1 April already?
 
#9
I really don't think this is genuine. Too much of it doesn't ring true. I will wait until it hits the broadsheet before further comment. My guess is it will be a long wait.
Admittedly it does look rather unlikely but on the other hand so did the initial accounts of Churchill's secret assassination squads; the small cells issued with a 'hit list' of key local figures to be liquidated in the event of a German invasion.
 
#10
Well, all I can say is that you naysayers will be extremely embarrassed when this story appears in the Daily Mail.
 
#11
I was in Wingate Company of the Lancs ACF (Kings Own Royal Border Regiment) in my youth.

Because I was tall and lanky I was directly recruited to replace the bomb locking pins on the Vulcan that bombed Stanely Airfield.

Hence me being the only cadet at the time to be wearing a Corporate medal. I can't talk about the parachuting onto HMS conquerer and my under cover paper round in Beunos Aeries for another 18 years or the decorations that went with it.

Lets just say Galtieri didn't get the papers that he paid for!!!
 
#12
Admittedly it does look rather unlikely but on the other hand so did the initial accounts of Churchill's secret assassination squads; the small cells issued with a 'hit list' of key local figures to be liquidated in the event of a German invasion.
You are asking me to believe:

1. That they would release papers about this just 30 years after the event, when they could keep then locked away for 50 years with no problem?

2. A newly elected Thatcher Government was going to sanction the use of "special forces children" in time of war?

3. The same new government was going to use those "special forces children" in 1979, the UNESCO "Year of the Child"?

And thats just a cursory glance at the logic.

The preparations for war back then were far more like Dads Army crossed with Yes Minister than some super secret bunch of super children. Old men sat on weekends in tiny underground bunkers chatting on secure phone lines as they measured pressure changes caused by atomic blasts. Other old men sat drinking tea in KPs as part of the HSF. Civilian contractors polished rows of "ever ready" vehicles ready for the "ballon to go up" as you put it.

True there was some SF stuff going on. But I very much doubt it involved a bunch of school kids playing soldiers.

But lets see what the broadsheet says. Please point me to it as soon as its published.
 
#13
Does anyone actually (admit to) read the Daily Mail?
 
#15
You are asking me to believe:

1. That they would release papers about this just 30 years after the event, when they could keep then locked away for 50 years with no problem?

2. A newly elected Thatcher Government was going to sanction the use of "special forces children" in time of war?

3. The same new government was going to use those "special forces children" in 1979, the UNESCO "Year of the Child"?

And thats just a cursory glance at the logic.

The preparations for war back then were far more like Dads Army crossed with Yes Minister than some super secret bunch of super children. Old men sat on weekends in tiny underground bunkers chatting on secure phone lines as they measured pressure changes caused by atomic blasts. Other old men sat drinking tea in KPs as part of the HSF. Civilian contractors polished rows of "ever ready" vehicles ready for the "ballon to go up" as you put it.

True there was some SF stuff going on. But I very much doubt it involved a bunch of school kids playing soldiers.

But lets see what the broadsheet says. Please point me to it as soon as its published.
Bumhole, I'm not asking you believe anything. Simply reporting what I was told.

1. I suspect that the documents the journo uncovered may well have been de-classified in error.

2. Mrs Thatcher wasn't called the Iron Lady for nothing:

3. The UNESCO 'Year of the child' was a perfect smokescreen: Child 'operatives' would be the last thing the Russians would be expecting
 
#17
I think it's perfectly feasible - working on the same basis as sending female SOE agents to France because they are less likely to attract suspicion then men.

Let us know when the story will be out please big-eye

http://www.coleshillhouse.com/the-auxiliary-units-history.php

from their official website this would suport the idea of younger people joining:

...........The British Resistance, or Auxiliary Units as they were known, were formed of volunteers who were too old or too young to be called up, or in reserved occupations. They were picked because of their intimate knowledge of their local surrounding areas and were often farmers, gamekeepers or poachers - See more at: http://www.coleshillhouse.com/latest-news-and-blog/#sthash.XptmY8Lr.dpuf..........
 
#19
I can easily believe this. In a time when total war was likely, if not probable, it makes sense to consider how you would make best use of all manpower assets following the destruction of the country.
Don't forget that this was written only 34 years after the end of WW2, when the Nazis were sending 13 year old schoolchildren into fight the Allies in a near apocalyptic scenario. I can imagine an older Colonel, possibly with memories of the war, and also the way that youth formed part of the home guard seeing this as some kind of idea.
If you consider that after any attack, the priority survivors for food would have been youth, there is an argument that they would have made a useful last ditch asset. If you are assuming that the world is going to end, then why not plan for the unconventional?
Lets be honest, the idea of the PM using an AA radio car to order a nuclear strike, the existence of a 4000 person bunker under Corsham and the idea that Radio 4 was the signal of last resort could have been seen as similar lunancy, but all were true.
 
#20
... the idea that Radio 4 was the signal of last resort could have been seen as similar lunancy, but all were true.
I think the meaning of the R4 signal has been lost on some. As a Longwave signal, it has properties which lend itself to reception on a sub, and I have never seen an authoritative source which suggested that it should be anything other than a confidence check if normal comms seems to be down.
 

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