THE ‘last real secret of World War II’ were honoured with the unveiling of a new memorial plaque. 

Eight members of the secret Wrackleford Auxiliary Unit in Dorset were remembered in a ceremony outside Stratton village hall on Saturday. Friends, ancestors and Stratton residents came to honour the unit. 

Volunteer guerilla teams, known as Auxilliary Units, were set up by Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War as the threat grew of a German invasion of Britain.

Their job was to attack invading German forces from behind their lines if the Nazis did invade. They had to keep their role a secret whilst staying under the veil of the Home Guard. The Wrackleford unit comprised patrols in the area surrounding Dorchester.

This unit of 'Churchill's Secret Army' was established in Wrackleford and Stratton in late 1940 or early 1941, made up of agricultural workers. Baroness Kate Rock of Stratton, referred to them as 'the last real secret of World War II'.

Dorset man David Downton discovered his uncle, Lewis Downton, had been part of the unit, after he accidentally came across one of his badges at his home. 

He said: "I found this little badge and it became clear to me that he was part of a secret army. 

"I think it was his way of telling us. He'd never told anyone, not even his wife." 

David, together with his cousin Heather Langdown, contacted history group Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) with a plan to erect a memorial to the secret group.

£3,000 was raised to fund the new memorial by family and relatives, along with donations from the British Legion social fund, Stratton parish council and the Stratton History Group.

In the unveiling ceremony the stone, draped in the Union flag, was unveiled by Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Angus Campbell, and dedicated by the Rev Dr John Travell. Floral wreaths were laid by family members of the men commemorated. 

An exhibition about the patrol and the Auxilliary units around the country was put together by CART in the village hall, where there were information stands, photographs and even some original items used by patrols during the war. 

Jack Northover is the last remaining survivor of the Wrackleford Unit, aged 90. He now lives in Dorchester. 

He said: "I joined the unit when I was 15 years old. I took over the place from my brother George."

George William Northover was shot down in a Lancaster bomber in 1943.

Jack said: "I am honoured that what we have done is being remembered in this way. 

"I appreciate the number of people turned up. It means everything to us to be recognised like this."

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