Remains of wartime minefield, near Marros

button_lang_welshRemains of wartime minefield, near Marros

marros_former_minefieldHere the Wales Coast Path runs through a Second World War minefield, with craters from exploded mines clearly visible. There’s no need to worry about treading on an unexploded mine – the whole site was made safe once the threat of invasion had passed. You may be able to see the wreck of a sailing ship on the beach.

The aerial view on the right was taken by the RAF soon after the war, and is shown here thanks to the Welsh Government and Dyfed Archaeological Trust. The mine craters are clearly visible in the centre. They have become more overgrown in the decades since.

Carmarthenshire seems an unlikely place for Hitler’s forces to launch an invasion of Britain – and that’s why this whole section of coastline was defended in the early part of the war. The British government appreciated how an element of surprise could assist any seaborne invasion. (The successful D-Day landings of 1944 were focused on the beaches of rural Normandy rather than established French ports.)

The broad sweep of Marros Sands would have provided an ideal landing place for German troops. The coast south of here would have been their natural route off the beach, avoiding steep slopes or cliffs and a narrow access point which could easily be defended. From here, the troops would have attempted to follow a track which leads northwards to Garness Farm. This probably explains why so many mines were clustered into a strip c.300 to 400 metres long here.

Had the invaders gained a foothold in West Wales, they would have faced another challenge. Britain would have cut off the occupied area to the west of a “stop line” between Carmarthen and Cardigan. Natural geography and constructed defences along the line would have helped Allied troops to contain the German army.

About the shipwreck:

If you’ve just scanned the QR codes and it’s low tide, look south to see the timbers of the schooner Rover of Wexford, which was blown ashore by a gale in December 1886 while trying to return to its home town with coal from Saundersfoot (further west). The Tenby lifeboat tried to rescue the crew but couldn’t get near enough, so the men spent all night in the rigging. They were helped ashore in the morning.

With thanks to Jason Lawday

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