FORESTRY and Land Scotland (FLS) has unearthed a secret WWII underground bunker while carrying out felling operations in the Scottish Borders.

It is thought that the small bunker in Craigielands Forest, near Moffat, was used as an operational base for an auxiliary unit, a secret branch of the Home Guard, often known as “Churchill’s secret army”.

These specially trained teams were often made up of local estate workers who knew the land well.

FLS archaeologist Matt Ritchie said: “This discovery gives us an insight into one of the most secretive units that were operating during WWII.

“It’s quite rare to find these bunkers as their locations were always kept secret – most were buried or lost.

“From records, we know that around seven men used this bunker and at the time were armed with revolvers, Sten guns, sub-machine guns, a sniper’s rifle and explosives.”

Auxiliary units had a nickname of ‘scallywags’ and were given orders to fight to the death. When the units were stood down, many joined the SAS or other special forces for D-Day and served with distinction.

This particular bunker was found by FLS survey technician Kit Rodger. He said: “The bunker was missing from our records but as a child I used to play in these woods and visit the bunker so I knew it was there somewhere.

“It was 40 years ago so I only had vague memories of the location, and the vicinity had changed a lot and was overgrown with bracken. However, I stumbled across a shallow trench and this led to the bunker door.”

The bunker was built to a standard design and was accessed via a hatch at the end of a narrow passage.

FLS believe that because of the subterranean location of the bunker, it might be a tempting spot for roosting bats so bat boxes have been installed.

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