THE ROYAL FAMILY had a secret plan to evacuate the UK in the event of a German invasion of Britain during World War 2 and the locations have been mapped by Express.co.uk.
Today marks Remembrance Sunday, a day dedicated to “commemorating the contribution of British and Commonwealth military servicemen and women during the two World Wars and later conflict”. However, there are some stories that remain a secret, even after the Allies defeated fascist Adolf Hitler to emerge victoriously and crush the Nazi regime. What many people do not know is the story of the Coldstream Guards – a special British Army unit established in 1940 with the sole purpose of evacuating King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their immediate family.
The operation, which came to be known as the Coats Mission, was led by Major Coats and later Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Coats.
Four county houses in remote locations around the UK would be used to smuggle the Royal Family to the north, before reaching the docks of Liverpool, where they would board a boat set for Canada.
Major Malcolm Ernest Hancock, company commander of the Coldstream Company, was one of the lucky few tasked with protecting Her Majesty.
Major Hancock, who passed away in 1989, told his captivating story in tapes passed on to his son Richard.
Revealed by the British Resistance Archive in 2009, he said: “Some time in the spring of 1941 I was asked if would like to join the Coats Mission.
“Well now, the Coats Mission was an organisation which was formed for the personal protection of the Royal Family, that is King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and the two Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.
“The intention was that if by any chance a parachute landing or such eventuality should take place and the Royal Family had to be evacuated from London for any particular reason, they would be whisked away to one of four country houses which had been selected for them to go to and we, the Coats Mission, would go with them and take up the defence of that particular house and we would remain there in their defence, according to whatever the dangers were, up to the last man and the last round.
“We, the Coldstream Company, and also a detachment of despatch riders were stationed at Bushy, where we undertook, again, very strenuous, very mobile operations.
“The one thing that we had to do was to be able to up and move at any moment, take up the defence of this, whatever house had been chosen and to be absolutely armed to the teeth of course and fully capable of going to any part of the country as required.
“In the event, thank goodness, we never were put to the real test of having to defend the Royal Family in any particular house because no invasion took place and no parachute landing took place.”
Major Hancock went on to detail the four secret locations.
He added: “Whenever the Royal Family left London if they went to Sandringham, the Coats Mission would accompany them.
“There were four houses, I can only remember three, unfortunately.
“One was Madresfield Court which was near Malvern, which was where Lord and Lady Beauchamp lived.
“Another was Pitchford Hall which I think was on the borders of Shropshire, occupied by Lady Grant, a sister of Lord Rosebury.
“The third one was Castle Howard, I think it’s Yorkshire, I’m not quite sure is it Yorkshire?
“The fourth one I can’t remember but I think it must have been somewhere in Cambridgeshire. Anyway, we occasionally used to have to go round to these various houses.”
Major Hancock explained the lengths he and his comrades would have gone to in order to protect the Royal Family.
He continued: “Each of those four houses had to be made into, as it were, a local fortress and it had to be done with the greatest secrecy.
“It was absolutely vital that as few people as possible knew where they were and we had to be most careful about everything we did or said.
“Well now each of those houses had to be reconnoitred by mostly Gussy Tatham and myself and we used to go occasionally to see that all was well.
“It consisted of a series of slip trenches placed at strategic points around the perimeter of the house and the grounds so they could not be seen from outside.
“There were barbed wire entanglements of course, I don’t think they were actually in place or would not be put into place until we were actually called upon to defend that particular house in order that nothing untoward should appear to be going on at these places.
“The security was so vital.”
Each of those four houses had to be made into a local fortress