Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch


Langstone Out Station

This page was last updated at 11:38am on 4/3/13

See info about the Langstone Auxiliary Unit here

The info and images below have been supplied by CART's Monmouthshire CIO, Sallie Mogford and Evelyn Simak.

SDS Bunker in wales
SDS Bunker in wales 2
In 1942 Lord Petherick MP was tasked with setting up the Special Duties Section of the Auxiliary Units. Around 3000 civilians, men and women, unknown to each other and from all classes and occupations acted as coast watchers, observers or ‘Agents’. Messages would be relayed to the civilian radio operators who would then transmit intelligence to the control or Zero stations.
They used various types of telephony sets, one was called TRD (transmit, receive, Dabbs) sets. They also used runners and dead letter drops. There were 43 ATS Subalterns and 69 Royal Corps of Signals personnel to back the ‘Agents’ up. They reported to Auxiliary Units Special Duties Section IO’s. Their HQ was based at Hannington Hall until it was relocated to Coleshill in 1942. These civilians were unpaid and sworn to everlasting secrecy. They had a motto – ‘Be like Dad – Keep Mum’. The SDS Auxiliers and their identities were rarely recorded on any WW2 records. There was a large underground radio IN station on the Blorenge Mountain. The task of IN-station operators (either ATS or AU Signals) was to listen for information from their local network of OUT-stations and to pass on this information to their IO.
The structures used were similar to an OB; These were known as 'In or Zero Stations', and out stations.
Apparently, there were five out stations and one zero station in Monmouthshire, approximate locations are:-
Out Stations
1) Penrhiw,Risca
2) Lower Lake, Pye Corner, Newport
3)Ty Fferm, Caerleon
4) Coed Y Careau common, Langstone Zero and Control Station
5) Blorenge, Abergavenny
Decoded messages and intelligence was distributed using dead letter drops via messengers. The civilian spies gathered information which they passed on to runners in the form of messages left in 'dead letter boxes'; the runners then collected and carried these messages to the OUT-stations (see below for more). Runners commonly used split tennis balls for concealing the messages they were carrying.  The tennis ball was dropped in a 'dead letter box' which could be a pipe leading into the OUT-station, but the runner would not have known this.  The OUT-station operator coded and then transmitted the contents of the message to his/her local IN-station where it was decoded and passed on to the IO.
The Special Duties Section and the Auxiliary Units worked in isolation and generally neighbouring units were not in communication with each other.
Welsh units did not communicate with the English units as they were classed as ‘foreigners!’ There is an SDS bunker located some several hundred metres from Jonah Patrols bunker at Coed Y Careau. (photograph above). There were four personnel who occupied this bunker led by Arthur Allsop of Langstone Farm. Jonah Patrol knew of its existence - raiding it as a prank on regular occasions for training practice. Of course the occupants of the SDS bunker were probably not aware who was responsible for the attacks when their bunker was unoccupied!
Evelyn Simak.