Churchill’s Secret Army: Ronald Bunday

Author: Gareth Owen

When Ronald Bunday knew he was dying of cancer aged 58 he felt he had to tell someone of his wartime activities. He knew his brother-in-law had signed the Official Secrets Act and felt that the information would be safe, but now Dave has also come to a time in his life when he felt that others ought to know just what went on during those desperate days of the Second World War. This is Ron’s story.

Ron Bunday took on a very important role as part of the Home Front during the Second World War. Ron a farm worker at Exbury, was a member of ‘Churchill’s’ Secret Army (CSA). The role of the CSA was envisaged months before the war was declared, in case of a German invasion, and was to be staffed by reliable local men who had special skills to offer, such as gamekeepers and farm workers who knew the area where they lived like the backs of their hands.

Should the worst happen and the Germans invade, the members of the patrols were to go to ground and wreak havoc with the occupying forces, destroying railway lines and tunnels to hinder the enemy’s advance.

Just after the start of the war, Ron was approached by a man dressed in a long gabardine raincoat and trilby (Secret Service) hat and was asked if he would join CSA, which he did. He signed the Secrets Act and was told never to tell anyone of his role.

Ron’s main role was to go underground if the Germans invaded, and to blow up the fuel tanks stored across the road from Fawley School. He was trained to do this by the Instructors at Lepe and Inchmery House, and also given arms and explosives to carry out these tasks. One of his instructions was to shoot German Officers; not the men, just the Officers. He hid the explosives etc, and built hide-outs where he could live, one of the main ones being in the Exbury area. These he stocked up with food etc. He was set lots of training tasks such as breaching the security at nearby Lepe House and Inchmery House and ‘blowing up’ the fuel tanks located there. This was very dangerous as both establishments were patrolled by armed guards; after he gained access he would write ‘BANG’ with chalk, to let them know he had succeeded in his task.

During the war, he was still working a 12 hour day doing his day job of ploughing and harvesting, and yet keeping his CSA activities secret from his family and friends. Ron was told by his Secret Service boss, that he was not to get captured or to talk to anyone about what he was doing, so he was never going to be recognised for his brave good works for the war effort. In fact, unlike members of the Home Guard, Civil Defence, Auxiliary Fire Service and Woman’s Land Army, the men recruited into Churchill’s Secret Army did not receive the Defence Medal. Ron never told anyone the whole story, except late in life when he gave bits of information to his son and daughter and Dave his brother-in-law.

Date: 1940

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