HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV120232
Name:Tawstock Auxiliary Operational Base, Big Straypark Plantation,


Site of a Second World War Auxiliary Operational Base which made use of a small hollow or quarry. Exact location unknown.


Grid Reference:SS 562 282
Map Sheet:SS52NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTawstock
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAWSTOCK

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1424118
  • Pastscape: 1424118

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • AUXILIARY UNIT OPERATIONAL BASE (World War II - 1939 AD to 1945 AD (Between))

Full description

Hannaford, N., 2016, Tawstock Auxiliary Unit Patrol (Website). SDV360562.

The Operational Base was in Big Straypark Plantation (also known as “Tawstock Wood”) to the South of Tawstock. This is on PRIVATE LAND and was accessed with the kind permission of the owner.
The patrol made use of a small hollow or quarry to build an OB shaped like a quarter ball.
It is unknown at present the exact location in the wood.
The straight, open side was the front of the base where the entrance shaft was built. The front side was then built up with earth, bushes and dead pieces of trees and a large amount of moss. This was then sloped to match the bank on either side.
The trap door leading to the underground base was impossible to see because of its carpet of leaves and moss glued to the door.
Inside a wooden seat was built around the circular side with 3ft boards nailed to the framework. Around the back and above and behind the seat was panelled. Behind the panelling were different compartments for storing equipment and explosives. Water and food was stored under the seating.
One panel of boards could be removed to reveal the entrance to the escape tunnel. The escape tunnel was 3ft wide and 4ft high and ran 25 yards to another hollow in the ground where at the end was another trap door. This door could only be opened from inside. Outside, like the entrance, it was covered with moss and dead brushwood.
What was hoped to be a safety chamber was built half way down the escape tunnel. The base itself was booby trapped with triggering wires in the safety chamber. It had two doors, one in main base and one in the safety chamber, which could be closed allowing the main blast of the booby trap to go straight down the escape tunnel. Two doors would help to protect the men from blast.
There were 6 booby traps outside the OB, placed just below the ground, which could be set off at a push of a button. Anyone within 30 yards would be lucky to not be killed.
Other physical remains nearby: One of the patrol members recalled there were 3 other hide-holes in the area where one could hide but store only a few supplies. He did not state if these are within the same wood or just in the local area. Something is rumoured to have been at Hollamore Clump but at present this cannot be confirmed.

University of Southampton, 2018, North Devon Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment, FID 3733 (Interpretation). SDV361978.

The National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) records a Second World War auxilary operations base built 1940-41 incorporated into small quarry with an escape tunnel. See NRHE for details.

National Monuments Record, 2019, Pastscape, 1424118 (Website). SDV362732.

Site of a Second World War auxiliary unit operational base recorded at Big Straypark Plantation, Tawstock. The unit was built in 1940-41 and incorporated into small quarry and had an escape tunnel

Sources / Further Reading

SDV360562Website: Hannaford, N.. 2016. Tawstock Auxiliary Unit Patrol. http://coleshillhouse.com. Website.
SDV361978Interpretation: University of Southampton. 2018. North Devon Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment. RCZAS. Digital. FID 3733. [Mapped feature: #4074 ]
SDV362732Website: National Monuments Record. 2019. Pastscape. https://www.pastscape.org.uk/. Website. 1424118.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Mar 5 2019 3:47PM