A digitised image of the remains of the bunker. It was used by an Auxiliary Unit during World War II.
A digitised image of the remains of the bunker. It was used by an Auxiliary Unit during the war. Image: AOC Archaeology/Forestry and Land Scotland.

Most wartime bunkers have been buried or lost, especially those in remote places.

But a secret Second World War dugout has now been unearthed in the Scottish borders.

The discovery was made by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) in Craigielands Forest, near Moffat, while FLS was carrying out felling operations.

Formed by an arch of corrugated iron sheets over a cement floor, the bunker measures only 7m in length by 3m in depth. It contains an access hatch at either end.

It is believed that the small bunker was used as an operational base for an Auxiliary Unit, a secret branch of the Home Guard.

Sometimes referred to as ‘Churchill’s secret army’, these teams were made up of determined and knowledgeable fighters who were well armed.

This laser-scan shows the bunker’s location just below ground-level in Craigielands Forest.
This laser-scan shows the bunker’s location just below ground-level in Craigielands Forest. Image: AOC Archaeology/Forestry and Land Scotland.

FLS archaeologist Matt Ritchie said: ‘From records, we know that around seven men used this bunker, and at the time were armed with revolvers, Sten submachine-guns, a sniper’s rifle, and explosives.’

Remarkably, the bunker was located thanks to the knowledge of a FLS survey technician. Kit Rodger recalled playing in the woods as a child and visiting the dugout many times.

‘It was 40 years ago, so I only had vague memories of the location. The vicinity had changed a lot and was overgrown with bracken,’ he said. ‘However, I stumbled across a shallow trenchand this led to the bunker door.’

In the many decades since Rodger last set foot inside, the materials within, such as beds and tables, had rotted away, although remnants of timber were found on the floor.

And while the bunker’s location was once a secret for security reasons, health and safety is now a greater concern. As such, it will not open to the public and its precise location will remain a secret.


This is a news story from Military History Matters. To find out more about the magazine and how to subscribe, click here.



One Comment

  1. Martin Charlesworth
    April 24, 2020 @ 2:47 pm

    These bases will be scattered all over the UK & turn up from time to time.

    The AU were to be ‘stay behind units’ once the Nazis had conquered mainland UK in 1940 & were to fight the enemy (and collaborators) in guerilla warfare, causing terror amongst the occupational forces, as a form of Resistance Movement as in the rest of occupied Europe.

    Let us be thankful they were never activated.

    Reply

Leave a Reply