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Glyndwr1945 31st December 2011 17:07

The Secret Room
Hello all...I am a new lad to this site having been recommended it. I am researching my family tree and over Christmas my Aunt told me an amazing story about my Grandfathers exploits during WW2. She tells of him being involved with a group of people helping to plan the D Day Landings of June 6 1944 from a place known as “The Secret Room” in Cardiff.
This has come as a bit of a surprise to say the least but she has recalled all sorts of memories from her childhood (she would have been about 15 years old or so at the time). What I know is listed below….please if anyone can throw any light on this it would be great…I do so want it to be true, but………………

My Grandfather is Frank Edward WARD who was with Sir William Reardon Smith and Sons a large shipping company in Cardiff and he had been in San Francisco and Vancouver in the 30s setting up and running offices for Sir William Reardon Smith and Sons. At some point in the war, possibly in 1943 he was seconded to a naval base apparently in the Imperial Buildings in Mount Stuart Square in Cardiff Docks. He attended there every day possibly as a representative of the British Merchant Navy. With him were an American Army Major(name not recalled) and a British Naval Lieutenant named Mr Brock who came from Exeter way. I do not know if there were any others involved in this but I suspect there were.

My aunt recalls that Mr Brock came to her house for Christmas lunch in 1943. The American major gave my grandfather a parcel of sweets for his children once a month which comprised inter-alia O`Henry Bars, Beamon`s Pepsi Chewing Gum and many other goodies which British kids could not get at that time.

It is a really intriguing story but with so little facts I suspect that it will not be easy to get to the bottom of this……unless of course someone knows different!! Any information or clues where to look or contact would be gratefully received.

I hope that I am not infringing any protocols by posting this question...if I have please forgive me

Many thanks in anticipation

Mike Ward

Leighton Buzzard

sparkie2182 31st December 2011 17:09

Interesting stuff Mike.

Welcome to SN

Happy New Year to you.

chadburn 31st December 2011 17:13

Sounds like an "Undergound Reserve" of the Port H/Q, the Domain of the NOIC (Naval Officer In Charge) who was in total control of the Port, there would also be various Rep's from Service's and Civilian Organisation's.

Gulpers 31st December 2011 17:18


On behalf of the SN Moderating Team, a warm welcome aboard from the Isle of Anglesey.
You will thoroughly enjoy the SN experience and, since you share common interests with many of our members, you will also undoubtedly be exchanging messages before long. (Thumb)*

Guernsey 31st December 2011 17:31

There was a deck marine superintendant with Reardon Smiths up to the 60's but he was known as Alfie Ward.

Glyndwr1945 31st December 2011 18:20

Secret Room
The Alfie Ward to whom you refer was my great grandfathers brother....our family havs been a bit incestuous in that shipping firm!!! Albeit in the 60s Alf I believe was a Captain.
good to know that he was remebered

Thanks also for the other responses

RayL 31st December 2011 21:49

Hi Glyndwyr1945, and welcome to the site.

I am inclined to agree with chadburn's remarks above and suspect that any reference to the planning for D-Day would only be referring to the movements of materiel, etc., arriving at Cardiff from the U.S.A. This would also explain the American representative who you mentioned. It would be sensible for all their discussions to take place in a secret room - in Cardiff's case located in the Imperial Hotel.

R58484956 1st January 2012 14:57

Greetings Mike and welcome to SN. Bon voyage.

chadburn 1st January 2012 15:14

Reardon Smiths did do a lot of work for the Admiralty during WW2 mainly shipping the superb Welsh steaming coal to the various bases, their "King City" was savaged (without warning) by the German Q Ship "Atlantis" killing a number of Apprentice's, she was on her way to the Far East Bases. The surviving Crew ended up in Somalia. One of her D.O's was at an R.S. "do" when I met him Post War and his left leg had been mangled in the incident, the M.O. of the "Atlantis" had run out of morphine so they topped Tommy up with drink and whipped his leg off with a hacksaw.
The work that went on in the wartime PHQ's was still the same Post War (for exercise purposes) including one of the biggest and most expensive "Exercise Brave Defender", all the Service's and Civilian Org's were involved along with called up Naval Reservist's like myself. The Exercise was an eyeopener on Government thinking at the time.

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