TRACES of Churchill’s secret World War Two guerilla army have been uncovered in an archaeological dig at Coleshill.

They include what may be the remains of a bunker used to train ordinary British people, selected by covert recruiters, in the arts of sabotage, disruption and assassination.

If the Nazis had invaded, the guerillas’ brief was to hide in bunkers throughout the country, coming out at night to wreak havoc until they died in battle or at the hands of the Gestapo.

The recently completed dig was followed with interest by North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson. His constituency includes nearby Highworth, where new recruits had to give a password to the postmistress, and secret government agent, Mabel Stranks.

“This is amazing,” the MP said. “It has really caught not just my imagination but also that of local residents. To think that something like this is on our doorsteps is truly fascinating.

“My dad and grandad were both history teachers, so I grew up being told countless stories from throughout the ages, but particularly of the Second World War.

“It’s amazing to see the sort of conditions these brave people would have been working in.”

Between 1940 and 1944, about 2,000 people are thought to have trained at Coleshill before dispersing throughout the country to live ordinary lives until a crisis which, mercifully, never came.

Many went on to serve in the regular armed forces in theatres of war throughout the world, although others remained in civilian occupations.

Some of those civilians were scorned by neighbours for not ‘doing their bit’, but could never reveal their secret. It was a secret many of these heroes took to their graves.

Prior to the archaeological dig at Coleshill, investigators found traces of living quarters in the stable block, the foundations of the old house, a guard house on an approach road, the remains of weapons and other equipment and an underground training base in the nearby woods.

The latest investigation was organised by Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), managed by the Great War Archaeology Group and aided by site owner the National Trust, the University of Bristol and exploration group Subterranea Britannica.

Major finds include what is either the entrance to another bunker nearby or a demonstration model of a counterweighted trapdoor entrance to one, and also the concrete bases of long gone buildings used by trainers and trainees.

CART founder Tom Sykes said: “It’s nice that after 70 years, and with the help of the National Trust, we’re able to uncover more of the secrets that Churchill probably wouldn’t have wanted us to know about.

“What we have uncovered is evidence that there is plenty more to be uncovered.

“The biggest thing is that by finding the shaft near the existing operational base, we have confirmed that there are probably more.

“We suspected this all along, and it needs further investigation. This is probably merely the beginning.”

Further information can be found at www.coleshill