The coastal village of Amroth on the Carmarthenshire border is at one end of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The village is divided into three parts, one at either end of the sand-and-pebble beach and one around the Norman church of St Elidyr in the wooded valley behind.
The Norman fortification called Earwere Castle was probably on the site of the present, privately-owned Amroth Castle, a 19th century mansion. Amroth developed in the 19th century as a result of small-scale coal and iron mining, traces of which are still visible. The community also includes the village of Llanteg which has a highly active local history society.
The community’s major contribution to the war effort was the hosting of Operation Jantzen in the summer of 1943. This exercise was a rehearsal for the Allied invasion of Normandy, the Amroth – Wiseman’s Bridge area being chosen for its similarity to the terrain which the British forces would encounter on D-Day at Gold Beach. Estimates of the number of troops involved in the exercise have been put as high as 100,000 and Winston Churchill is said to have personally overseen part of the operations. The military exercise involved a great number of ships and landing craft, and as well as practicing landing on the beaches, troops and military vehicles penetrated several miles inland in order to ‘capture’ designated targets. Operation Jantzen was also an exercise in civilian control. A large area from Laugharne to Tenby and as far north as St Clears and Canaston Bridge came under Regulated Area Restrictions, with control posts set up on main and secondary roads and at railway stations to monitor people’s movements; only those with special passes were able to travel any distance. Snap checks were also carried out, including a raid on a dance hall and cinema in Tenby which discovered that no-one present had entered the Restricted Area illicitly.
The public was kept well away from the actual beaches where the exercise was taking place and Military Police (Red Caps) enforced a strict curfew between July 12th and August 9th, with fines ranging from 10 shillings to £2.00 for those who infringed. Letters and telephone calls – military and civilian – were monitored and censored to prevent information about the nature of the exercise leaking out. A few traces of Operation Jantzen remained after the exercise was over, including a landing craft which was wrecked and abandoned on Amroth beach, eventually rusting away and sinking into the sands where it still lies. During the operation, the ridge of pebbles which runs behind Amroth beach was greatly disturbed by the bulldozing through of several roadways to allow military vehicles access to and from the beach. This disturbance of the storm bank of pebbles had the effect of exacerbating the problem of the pebbles being gradually swept to the east, allowing the sea to batter its way through the gaps in this natural defence. Under pressure, the War Department eventually contributed cash towards the alleviation of this problem; sea walls and groins have since been built as part of the village’s constant battle with the sea.
The Amroth, Llanteg and Tavernspite Home Guard had its headquarters in a former hen house at Llanteglos. The Amroth Watch was based in Crayes Billiard Room above a shop (now ‘Toad Hall’), and six or eight men would patrol the beach every night.
Amroth – A brief history by Roscoe Howells Llanteg – The days before yesterday – published by Llanteg Historical Society
Llanteg Historical Society, c/o Ruth Roberts, Sandy Grove, Llanteg