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09 June 2014

Operation Pluto - and the Llandarcy Connection

A talk was held in Neath Library on Saturday 7th June on Operation Pluto, the wartime pipeline that took fuel to supply the Allied invasion of occupied Europe from the time of the D-Day landings. Viv Griffiths, who is the historian of the BP Llandarcy oil refinery, gave a talk illustrating the contribution that the Llandarcy refinery made to this venture. As part of his research he interviewed staff members at the refinery who had been involved at the time but who had never up until then spoken of their efforts, having signed the Official Secrets Act at the time of their development work on this venture. A trial pipeline was first laid out between Swansea and Minehead to test out the technology involved. A piece of the pipe developed for this purpose can be seen today at Swansea Museum. Those who listened to the talk were impressed by the skill and ingenuity of those involved and better appreciated the contribution that civilians locally made to the winning of the Second World War.

From Wikipedia:  Operation Pluto (Pipe-Lines Under The Ocean) was a Second World War operation by British engineers, oil companies and armed forces to construct undersea oil pipelines under the English Channel betweenEngland and France. The scheme was developed by Arthur Hartley, chief engineer with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Allied forces on the European continent required a tremendous amount of fuel. Pipelines were considered necessary to relieve dependence on oil tankers, which could be slowed by bad weather, were susceptible to German submarines, and were also needed in thePacific WarGeoffrey William Lloyd, the Minister for Petroleum, met Admiral Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, whose area this was, in 1942 and then the Chairman of Anglo-Iranian. Hartley's idea of using adapted submarine telephone cable was adopted.

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