A secret World War II bunker at Coed Coesau-Whips Woodland, near Rudry and between Caerphilly and Cardiff, has been opened up to the public.
Forestry Commission Wales called in the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), a national research group of historians and researchers, to piece together the secret history of the concrete bunker.
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, the Forestry Commission 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.
Forestry Commission 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.