Ex-policeman pin points war-time resistance dug out

Sgt Tom Catto, Peterhead, has been revealed as part of the secretive British Resistance.
Sgt Tom Catto, Peterhead, has been revealed as part of the secretive British Resistance.

The son of a top secret resistance soldier and ex-Angus police officer has come forward in response to a plea for help from an Aberdeenshire Research team.

Mr William Catto formerly Peterhead, now Arbroath, responded to the request for more information about World War Two resistance units.

Son of Sergeant Thomas (Tommy) Catto, a draper who joined one of the volunteer units after being found medically unfit to fight on the front line, spoke about the history.

During World War Two the British Government set up a top secret resistance organisation to conduct guerilla warfare, were the Germans to successfully invade.

Local patrols were formed across the UK and ‘dug outs’ or operational bases were built to allow shelter for the soldiers until, under the blanket of darkness, they would undertake sabotage to disrupt key targets identified in sealed orders.

Designed as a last line of defence there were approximately 3,000 members recruited into patrols.

“My father, Tommy Catto, Norman Tait, a storeman; Tom Alexander, a doorman;Ian Watson, David Gordon, an apprentice butcher; Charles (Charlie) Clay, the assistant grocers; and David Wilson formed the Peterhead unit,” Mr Catto said. “They were all volunteers but didn’t originally know what they were volunteering for.

“We didn’t know much about it at the time but after the war, father was handing back his bits and bobs and began telling us more about it.

“Some bits I was aware of because he disappeared for a week at a time, going down to Coleshill, Birmingham for training. My mother wasn’t happy because she had to look after the shop all day and the house was being neglected!”

Mr Catto’s immaculate memory and attention to detail has pinpointed exactly where the Peterhead contingent’s secret shelter was located.

“It was situated in Inverugie, more a collection of houses than a town. I don’t know if the dug outs are still in existence, a lot of them were broken up. But the tower in the Old Kirkyard is still there.”

The unit, under secret orders would train on Tuesdays, Thursdays and in uniform on Sundays but remained tight lipped on the nature of their training.

“It was assumed they were part of the Home Guard. But one day I was in mother and father’s bedroom, there was a locked drawer and in it was a revolver. I desperately wanted it to play with!”

Mr Catto also remembers discovering new books on topics such as explosives.

The patrols were well armed and well trained and in signing the Official Secrets Act agreed to reveal to nobody their secret role in fear of endangering their families.

“I was amazed and am still proud today that he was involved in the resistance and in a very well kept secret.”

The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) is a network of researchers intent on finding and publishing information focusing on the British Resistance, such as previously unknown locations of many of these operational bases.