Sheep farmer reveals WWII top secret guerrilla mission to “blow Port Talbot to smithereens” in the event of Nazi invasion



He was then part of a top secret army unit, also known as the Auxiliary Unit, established by Winston Churchill for the purpose. The units composed of local groups organized all over the country in a coordinated network that could launch resistance movements against Nazi aggressors. Dillwyn was then 18 years old working as a sheep farmer when he volunteered to become one of the Auxiliary Unit. The pensioner was given instructions to blow the town’s steelworks “sky high”.

A local of Margam, near Port Talbot, Mr. Dillwyn revealed their confidential mission which was ordered during the war more than 70 years ago. “We were told to blow-up the steelworks – we were told to blow Port Talbot to smithereens. “We had access to every weapon you could imagine – daggers for prodding the enemy, guns for shooting the enemy, explosives for blowing up the enemy.

Secret mission: This is the Margam bunker where the Auxilliary Unit's ammunition was stashed during World War II
The secret bunker of the Auxiliary unit in Margam was used to stash ammunition which could be used by the members to lauch guerrilla warfare in the event of a Nazi invasion.

“They were kept in a secret underground bunker that only we knew about – ready for us in case of invasion. “If the Germans had landed and it looked as though they were making inroads we were to blow the steel works, oil refinery, train line, and anything else which could have been of any use to them – then lay low in the countryside. “We weren’t meant to fight the Germans head-on – there were nowhere near enough of us to make a difference and we weren’t sufficiently armed.

“But if we could slow up their progress, then the hope was that we could tie them up with ambushes and booby traps. “Of course I’m delighted that it never came to that but I must admit that there’s a tiny part of me which is disappointed that I never got to test my training in battle.” The Margam Auxiliary Unit was among the units composed of a network of locals strategically placed and highly trained groups tasked to resist the Nazi invasion across the country.

The mission of Dillwyn and his fellow members of the auxiliary unit was to blow the Margam Castle in Port Talbot which was identified as a potential headquarters for the Nazis. Each auxiliary unit was composed of between four and eight men. The men were mostly recruited from the most able members of the Home Guard. They were usually locals who knew their terrain well and who had the ability to live off the land.

The Daily Mail reports that the members of the unit, totaling to around 3,500, were trained at Coleshill House near Highworth, Wiltshire, during the weekends. The courses were about the arts of guerrilla warfare including assassination, unarmed combat, demolition and sabotage.

Dillwyn still farms in the area to this day. He said, “The next thing I knew I was signing the Official Secrets Act, alongside five other local lads, who all worked on the Margam estate. “We had no day-to-day tasks, we simply carried on as normal, but on a Sunday we would be taken under cover of darkness to a secret location and briefed.”

War effort: Mr Thomas was told to destroy the steel mill in Port Talbot and anything else that would be useful to the Germans as part of a guerrilla insurgency
One of the task of Mr. Thomas was to destroy the steel mill and other crucial infrastructure in Port Talbot which could be used by the Nazis if they invade.

The secret mission remained as that for many decades. Dillwyn didn’t whisper to any ear, including his family, of his role in the second world war. He said, “Nobody ever asked questions, not even my parents at the time. “After the war was over we were never officially stepped down or told that our roles were over – we just sort of assumed they were and got on with life.

Secret mission: Dillwyn Thomas, 88, was given instructions 'to blow Port Talbot to smithereens' during World War II if the Germans ever invaded
Dillwyn Thomas, now 88, is the only surviving member of the Margam Auxiliary Unit of Port Talbot.

“I was friendly with the five others lads in the unit for years afterwards but we never spoke about our role during the war. “Unfortunately, I am the only one of us still alive.” Dillwyn said he never got around talking about the secret and got used to keeping his role a personal private affair. He didn’t tell his family of his involvement for about three decades.

Finally, after many years of silence, he writes away his experience in a book, “A View From the Main Ring”. “Looking back now, the job we were given was one of huge responsibility, but as a young dimwit I never understood or appreciated the magnitude of what we were asked to do. “I am just thankful that it never came to that, and can only pray to God that we are never forced into such a position again,” he finally said.


Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE