01 September 2017
Who goes there.....friend or foe?


Martyn Griffiths


“An enemy force ... landed on the Cardiganshire coast and was advancing rapidly, had been instructed to seize all bridge-heads in the area.  Only short notice was given to the troops in charge of the defence and the Civil Defence units similarly were turned out with little warning”.

This event actually happened and it got worse:

“Determined attacks were made on the Glynneath defences…..  “which held until, a fast moving enemy mobile column charged down the hill from the direction of Hirwaun and enabled the defences to eventually be overcome.”

The Resolven Platoons of the Home Guard were put under pressure whilst further down the valley, “a fierce onslaught had been launched on the Aberdulais defences….. following a protracted struggle numbers eventually prevailed but only after considerable casualties had been incurred.”

“Meanwhile the Neath defences were also being severely tested on their remaining flanks, and with the aid of a naval column, a small force crossed the river at Briton Ferry and attempted to join up with an enemy force from Port Talbot, which was presumed to have landed on Aberavon sands and was rapidly advancing upon Briton Ferry defences from the east.”

They were joined by a force from Clydach and “after suffering heavy casualties in Skewen, succeeded in advancing but were eventually held up by the Neath Works Companies on the outskirts of the town.  The Bryncoch Home Guards also greatly aided the defence by their strong opposition to large columns of enemy arriving from Gwaun-cae-gurwen and Pontardawe.”

The battle for Neath was in some doubt, especially when an enemy force from Cymmer seriously threatened the Cimla area “but the timely arrival of a friendly mobile column of well-trained and cheery Tommies eventually carried the day for the defence.”

The Battle of Neath lasted six hours and was reported in Neath Guardian on 10th October 1941.  It ended with a scrimmage at the Gnoll when enemy and friendly mobile columns collided.  The newspaper reported a few realistic bombs and explosives were used.  Prior to the battle “bombing and several fires, gas and H.E. incidents were reported” and all dealt with by the various authorities.

Captain Mainwaring would have been delighted.

Neath Home Guard at the Drill Hall

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