Everyone knows about World War II, Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain, The Battle of The Atlantic, The Desert War and many other landmark moments, but delve deeper into the depths of the war, and you will find stories that have never made it to the history books, or even Hollywood for that matter. When you see an elderly person deep in their nineties walking down the street, imagine what stories they have to tell, you just never know.

Recently, an elderly woman, we will call her Margret, living in a small village in Kent, passed away. Her neighbours said she was a very quiet soul, friendly but always alone. She was often seen walking down to the local shop in the mornings and always stopped at the local pub for her regular gin and tonic. No-one knew much about her except that she had always lived in the area and that her husband had passed away some years ago. Nobody in the village knew her well enough to go to her funeral, they didn’t even know that she had a son, until one day he came to her cottage to clear everything up. And this was when he made an astonishing discovery.

Upstairs in the attic, her son found a dust covered firebox, padlocked and secure with other items piled on top of it. Eventually, after quite a struggle, he managed to get it open. Inside he found a Sten Gun, 200 rounds of ammunition, a kill list and a code book. And no-one knew.

In 1940, after the shambles of Dunkirk, my uncle Peter, who lived in the south east of England, became chief scout master for the entire area. This caused quite a bit of consternation with the neighbours and they gave him a rather tough time as they all though he should be joining the army and do his bit for the war effort. It got so bad that he couldn’t even go to his local pub, and all his friends avoided him. But my uncle stuck to it and continued to run the Boy Scouts to the best of his ability, no matter how much abuse he received from everyone. My uncle lived a solitary life and did not mix with people at all. I stayed with him one weekend, and one morning I accidently set off his burglar alarm I was shocked to see a highly animated uncle pointing a large Webley revolver straight at me.

My uncle Peter, passed away soon after this incident and my mother and I went around to assist my aunt in clearing everything out and to sort out his belongings. In the basement we found a trunk, inside of which were two Sten Guns, one thousand rounds of ammunition, three hand grenades and a pack of explosives. Not even my aunt knew anything about all the armaments immediately below her kitchen floor.

The secret that both Margret and my uncle Peter kept was very incredible. After Dunkirk, the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill initiated something called the Auxiliary Unities early in the summer of 1940, which was to be part, legally, of the Home Guard but only answered to the GHQ Home Forces. This was not to be a British Resistance Force as such, but rather to be independent cells of between four and eight people from all walks of life who would, in case of a German invasion, operate behind enemy lines disrupting, destroying and killing as many Germans as possible. None of the cells were connected or even aware of each other and if captured, were expected to kill themselves or each other. Ultimate security was to be kept at all times. The operatives were not to speak to anyone about their activities and to carry on with their normal lives as much as possible. Each unit was completely self-contained and was to operate autonomously operating in an area of approximately 20 kms from where they lived. Even the Home Guard were unaware of their existence, and in the event of invasion, their disruptive operations would have been extensive. For those in the know, these units became known as The Scallywags and their operations as Scallywagging.

It is quite incredible that both Margret and Uncle Peter had been able to keep their secret for so long, considering the amount of abuse Peter received. Being in charge of the Boy Scouts enabled him to move around the entire area without arousing suspicion and he was the perfect link between GHQ and the rest of the Scallywags.  Margret was obviously instructed to kill anyone on her Kill List who were suspected of collaboration with the Germans. It just goes to show the amount of secrecy and loyalty of all the operatives like Margret and Peter and that the story of theirs and others like them has not yet come out into daylight, which it fully deserves to do. I hope I have shone a little bit of light on these unsung and unappreciated people in World War II, The Scallywags.

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