The Special Duties Section


A network of Secret Civilian Operators called the Special Duties Section (SDS) which is sometimes referred to in many secret War Office Documents as Special Duties Branch (SDB) was set up at the beginning of the War as a branch of the Auxiliary Units (AU). They were to work alongside the AU but not be known to them and this was achieved by a number of cut-outs. At its height there were 30 In-Stations staffed by the Royal Signal or Women from the ATS, 125 Out-Stations manned by Civilian Operators and 78 Sub-Outstations, the total number of civilians involved in the organisation amounted to at least 3,000.


Top Secret Map of SDS Out & In Stations throughout the UK.

SDS Map-wide

Civilian Operators were chosen from all walks of life but they had no uniform and would of stood no chance if they had fell into the arms of German Intelligence Services and undoubtedly would of been shot as spies if caught. Dead Letter boxes' were set up in birds' nests, chicken houses, in hollows in trees, and drain pipes, Gate Posts, Telegraph Poles in fact anything suitable that wouldn’t cause suspicion and would be for depositing their messages, which, in due course were collected by runners who would collect them and carry them, frequently concealed in split tennis balls, to an OUT-station. The OUT-station operator would code the messages and transmit them to his/her local IN-station at a pre-arranged time, where another operator would then decode and pass on any messages to their Intelligence officer based at the nearest Army HQ.

In 1942, the AU Signals HQ was moved from Hundon to Coleshill, where construction and improvements of the TRD sets (including the TRM and TRF) continued. At the same time the Special Duties Branch established their HQ at Hannington Hall, owned by the Fry cocoa family, five miles from Coleshill. Here, Major Maurice Petherick recruited additional Intelligence officers to continue the expansion of the spy organisation. Beatrice Temple continued to administer the AU ATS.

Here in East Yorkshire we had the following stations : Sigglesthorne Out Station, South Dalton Zero Station, Hickleton Hall In-Station, Rudston Out Station. Research into East Yorkshire has concluded that there was an Out-Station near to or in the Village of Ottringham and this research is on going. It has also been said that the Aldborough Bunker at Bail Wood was an SDS Station but this in our opinion is false due to to the fact that there are two OB's within 200 yards and never would they have been located so close together and there is no evidence whatsoever to support this.