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Very little is known about the British Resistance movement during WWII and even less is known about the people who would lead this group of brave fighters if the Germans took over the country and the government of the day went into exile.
“What did you do in the war granddad?”
An innocent question from his 6 year old grandson but did John Fintch unburden himself and tell someone what his roll during the war really was?
To everyone else he had been a farm worker and his contribution to the war effort was to be a Firewatcher in the local town of Eastbourne, but that was far from the truth.
John decided he would tell Simon the truth, that he was ‘The Pheasant’ the Top Secret leader of No 203 Battalion of the Home Guard, the cover name for the resistance units in the south of England.
Some of what he told Simon was from his own encounters and some from what he had been told by his closest friend Lieutenant Jonathan Williams. Jonathan was at meetings in London which set up the Resistance movements as an assistant to a General attending this meeting. Once John had been recruited Jonathan had told him of his role in his recruitment.
The first major change in John’s life was that he was introduced to Wendy, someone he had met many years ago at his brothers wedding. She had been trained as a covert radio operator and she was to be his wife. Before he knew it he was sacked from his current job but at the same time offered a job at a farm in Jevington, together with a house for him and his wife.
Once his he had started work at this new farm he also started his training in secret signals hut hidden among trees and gorse bushes at the top of the hill overlooking Eastbourne.
It was during this training that he received a Top Secret message to meet the Prime Minister when he visited a tank trials unit on the hill above Jevington. Here he was handed a sealed letter that gave him total command of all military and civil forces in the country if the government was forced into exile.
It was after he received this letter that the incident, told in the authors book ‘Three Days’ occurred, John took it upon himself to use this as a training exercise for the local Auxiliary units.
Even though this was a success, the top brass at the War Office were not happy and cut him off from contact with both them and the units but, as told in the authors book ‘Chilver Bridge’, they were to regret this action.
A few days after John had told of his contribution to the war, to Simon, he passed away.
It was at his funeral that Simon was to find out that the story his granddad had told him was the truth.
If anyone doubted him, Simon held ‘The Pheasant’s’ Victoria Cross in his hands.

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