A BOY hero from Highworth is being mourned by historians of Churchill’s secret war.
Ted Jefferies, who died recently, was a 13-year-old Scout when he began working as a messenger for the Auxiliary Units in 1940.
Other boys his age carried penknives, but Ted carried an assassin’s blade, and his role was so vital that new wheels for his roller-skates were obtained from the US when the old ones wore out.
The Auxiliary Units, based at nearby Coleshill House, were schooled in sabotage and assassination and planned as Britain’s resistance in the event of Nazi invasion.
Their history is traced and celebrated by the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team, which has paid tribute to Ted.
CART spokesman Andrew Chatterton said: “Such was the secrecy surrounding the units and Coleshill that much of the communication that took place could not be done by the usual methods, and so physical notes had to be passed between HQ and various locations in the local area.
“Ted was recruited as a secret messenger for the Auxiliaries. Too young to sign the Official Secrets Act, he had to give the Scouts’ oath as he was sworn to secrecy.
“As a local Boy Scout it was hoped that in the event of an invasion he was unlikely to attract the unwanted suspicions of the Germans, but his uniform would mean that he was easily identifiable by those who trained at Coleshill.”
There were other things which marked him out to people who knew Coleshill’s secrets. Mr Chatterton added: “One was a knife with a deer antler handle that hung on his Scout belt. The knife itself was not all it seemed, as under the deer antler handle was not a run of the mill knife, but a Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife – the chosen fighting knife of the Auxiliary Units.
“Obviously not yet driving, getting around the countryside quickly was a challenge.
“A bike was out of the question because of war shortages, so Ted’s favourite method of transport was his roller-skates.
“With so much travelling, the wheels soon got worn out. Such was the importance of his role and his method of transport that GHQ even obtained a new set from the US so that he could continue his essential duties.”
Ted with one of his sons in 1951
Ted didn’t speak of his Coleshill exploits until well into old age. A few years after the war he was called up into the RAF and acted as a courier for former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who remained a major figure in world affairs despite of losing the 1945 General Election.
Ted serviced and delivered the primitive wire ‘tape’ recorders used in post-war negotiations.
In civilian life he joined the Railway Works in Swindon. He married Elizabeth Cox in 1949 and they were together until her death last year.
The couple had three sons and eight grandchildren.
A tribute to Ted, including video footage and his own account of a training mission, can be found on the CART website – coleshillhouse.com Ted revealed that there was a fellow messenger in Highworth, a school friend whose name he recalled as Grace Eeies. The CART team hopes to learn more about her.