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They would have been in the front line of the war with Nazi Germany if Hitler’s forces had invaded these shores.
The unobtrusive looking concrete bunkers were built to conceal highly secret groups, known as the Auxiliary Units, who were set up to relay vital information about enemy movements and help mount counter-attacks as Britain braced itself for occupation during World War II.
Now, Forestry Commission Wales has acted to restore one of the bunkers and shed light on the vital role Wales was set to play during a dark chapter in Britain’s history.
The Commission called in the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), a national research group of historians and researchers, to piece together the secret history of one of the wireless hides tucked away in Coed Coesau-Whips Woodland, near Rudry.
The bunker, which is located next to a road in the Assembly Government forest not far from Cardiff, was overgrown with vegetation and had fallen into disrepair over many years.
But, with the help of experts from CART and a local newspaper appeal for information, FC Wales set about lifting the lid on the forest’s hidden past.
Foresters cleaned out decades of accumulated rubbish, created a path leading up to the bunker from the road and provided a fence to prevent people from falling or climbing into the bunker.
FC Wales Forest Ranger Emma Louise Felkin said, “We’ve always said that our forests have an important role to play in providing a whole range of social, environmental and economic benefits, but this bunker reminds us of a time when they were important for a totally different reason!
“It’s right that we remember our past and we were delighted that CART was able to help us preserve this fascinating part of our heritage.”
CART member Will Ward concluded that the bunker had been an Auxiliary Units Special Duties Wireless Hide, as it is on high ground and located near houses.
The Auxiliary Units – also called the Secret Army – were specially trained, highly secret groups created with the aim of resisting the expected invasion of the British Isles by Nazi Germany during World War II.
The bunkers would have been used to provide radio contact between the groups as they spied on the advancing enemy.
The main entrance would have slid off, so that the bunker could have been camouflaged with soil and leaves. The first chamber would have also been camouflaged, probably to look like a poacher’s den, and hidden behind this would have been the main chamber in which the wireless operator would have hidden.
CART founder Tom Sykes said, “Preserving sites like this is really important as they allow the public to see just what life would have been like for members of Churchill's Auxiliary Units.
“If Hitler had invaded, up to eight men would have lived in bases similar to this and they would have survived off the land and their rations. I think it's great that Forestry Commission Wales is encouraging people to learn more about their history.”
To visit the bunker, follow the footpath running through the woodland from the Coed Coesau Whips/Maenllywd Inn car park. You can find out more about the bunker at http://www.coleshillhouse.com/rudry-auxiliary-unit.php
Caption: The secret World War II bunker hidden in Coed Coesau-Whips Woodland.
NOTES TO EDITORS
A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team is run by volunteers and was set up in June 2009 by Tom Sykes after he was informed about Coleshill and its wartime involvement. Many of the group’s members are experts on World War II and most are authors on the subject or have a direct relation to a member of the Auxiliary Units. CART is a non-profit making group and receives no financial support. More info can be seen at www.coleshillhouse.com
For more information about the bunker, contact Emma Louise Felkin on 02920 886863, mobile 07824 857541.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email email@example.com