Cold war Home Defense Questions

Yokel

LE
It depends. Remember, it was only in the mid 1980s onwards were concrete efforts made to harden RAF airfields against direct attack and some airfields, such as RAF Leeming, only had NATO funded work completed in the early 1990s. Public infrastructure built between 1960s - 1990s often had defensive/protective measures designed into them; others less so. A lot of CNI - eg water reticulation and the railway network which often dates from the Victorian era - would require effort during TTW to harden them from attack and spares would be dispersed from central stores - firstly to put them closer to the area of need but also to provide a measure of redundancy. British Rail had a network of hardened network control centres across the UK; some of the rather ugly trackside architecture of the 1970s looked that way as it was designed to protect critical switchgear and control facilities. The National Grid had air-gap high speed breaker gear to protect transformers which would survive EMP; not today.

Similarly, quite a few LAs only paid lip-service to preparedness - the rise of Nuclear Free Zones (thanks KGB!) in the 1970s and 1980s saw (Labour) councils dis-invest in passive and civilian defensive measure on the basis that it was 'pointless', but I bet a few bottoms would clench if Naval and Frontal Aviation unit started clashing with NATO forces....

As you know I am interested in national resilience and started a thread in the Current Affairs forum. Surely current anti EMP measures are secret? When you say civil infrastructure was hardened against bomb attack, do you mean nuclear blasts, conventional bombings, or IEDs and attacks by Spetsnaz?

The RAF Support Command Alert Measure saw training helicopters at Shawbury and Valley (Wessex and Gazelles) committed to Home Defence - either in direct support of the forces or to the Civil Authority. IIRC, some Gazelles were to go to RAFG. Dominies were to be used for communications, postal and courier duties. The UAS and AEF aircraft - Chipmunks and Bulldogs - were organised into regional liaison squadrons and flights for communications and surveillance purposes. The Chippies were allocated fall-out monitoring and 'public control' ie monitoring refugee movements.

During the Falklands War, some naval ASW Wessex crews were not needed in an ASW role, so they stripped down the cabs and operated in the commsndo support role.
 
As you know I am interested in national resilience and started a thread in the Current Affairs forum. Surely current anti EMP measures are secret? When you say civil infrastructure was hardened against bomb attack, do you mean nuclear blasts, conventional bombings, or IEDs and attacks by Spetsnaz?
A lot of CNI (eg water reticulation and the rail network) were hardened in the late 1930s. Some of these features can be seen today - such as blast walls around exchanges, switch gear and pumping stations; ground floor windows bricked up in continuously manned buildings to serve as refuges; concrete roof slabs etc. These measures, of course, were to mitigate the effects of conventional bombing. From the late 1960s onwards architectural guidance was given by MPWB (later PSA) about blast protection from nuclear weapons, and PF from radiation and this coincided with the extensive and Brutalist use of ferro-concrete which has a high PF and blast and shockwave resistance. The BT tower is an example, as is the very large microwave tower in Harpenden, which you can see from the M40 near High Wycombe. This was part of a protected LOS comms network. In the 1970s (qv 'Defence of the Realm' by Chris Andrews) it as realised that Spetznaz would be positioned or landed in the UK to forment unrest, take out key leaders and to disrupt public life by attacking CNI. During TTW, TA and Home Defence Forces, supplemented by RAF Personnel, inter alia, would be deployed as Key Point Guards - to protect CNI from sabotage by Spetznaz, loopy 5th Columnists and 'Peaceniks'. Very early in my career during a TACEVAL, I was deployed with a section to guard some very elderly GWR rolling stock in a siding in Much Wenlock (I think) which contained a mobile 'post ERT' telephone exchange, which would lay cables trackside across the country and restore a telephone network for the railways and LA.

Post Cold War, there has been little official encouragement to protect CNI against EMP; partly because of the sense it isn't needed and partly because public utilities in the UK have been privatised and largely deregulated, so they are unlikely to spend large sums of money protecting against an infinitesimal risk. The sad thing is that 30 years on, we may have lost many of these skills to protect CNI.
 
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Does anyone (@Archimedes or @Solo Dave) know what the plan was for RAF and RN SAR squadrons and flights? Provide SAR for wartime sorties, or be rerolled as support helicopters for home defence?

Am I right in thinking that 72 Sqn at Aldergrove did SAR as well as SHFNI duties, so could the reverse be done?
iirc the plan was to disperce the SAR up and down coast away from the airfields that would no doubt get zapped.
In the best MOD way of these things someone wrote in air clues that the cunning plan had a flaw, no one had taken into account the amount of support needed eng wise let alone fire and force protection even
 

Yokel

LE
A lot of CNI (eg water reticulation and the rail network) were hardened in the late 1930s. Some of these features can be seen today - such as blast walls around exchanges, switch gear and pumping stations; ground floor windows bricked up in continuously manned buildings to serve as refuges; concrete roof slabs etc. These measures, of course, were to mitigate the effects of conventional bombing. From the late 1960s onwards architectural guidance was given by MPWB (later PSA) about blast protection from nuclear weapons, and PF from radiation and this coincided with the extensive and Brutalist use of ferro-concrete which has a high PF and blast and shockwave resistance. The BT tower is an example, as is the very large microwave tower in Harpenden, which you can see from the M40 near High Wycombe. This was part of a protected LOS comms network. In the 1970s (qv 'Defence of the Realm' by Chris Andrews) it as realised that Spetznaz would be positioned or landed in the UK to forment unrest, take out key leaders and to disrupt public life by attacking CNI. During TTW, TA and Home Defence Forces, supplemented by RAF Personnel, inter alia, would be deployed as Key Point Guards - to protect CNI from sabotage by Spetznaz, loopy 5th Columnists and 'Peaceniks'. Very early in my career during a TACEVAL, I was deployed with a section to guard some very elderly GWR rolling stock in a siding in Much Wenlock (I think) which contained a mobile 'post ERT' telephone exchange, which would lay cables trackside across the country and restore a telephone network for the railways and LA.

Post Cold War, there has been little official encouragement to protect CNI against EMP; partly because of the sense it isn't needed and partly because public utilities in the UK have been privatised and largely deregulated, so they are unlikely to spend large sums of money protecting against an infinitesimal risk. The sad thing is that 30 years on, we may have lost many of these skills to protect CNI.

Am I alright to cross post that on the CA thread about national resilience? The Cold War ended, and the USSR was dissolved, when I was at school. However some security measures taken in 1990/91 got my interest, as did a planned plot by the IRA to attack the electrical supply to London.

Later studying and working in electronic/Communications engineering has increased my interest. In the town that is the administrative and economic centre for my part of the world, there is a telephone exchange that I think was completed in the early nineties. It is a brick building - with no windows. The window spaces are bricked.

Hardening? Or just security? This a comparatively small town with no great strategic targets nearby.
 
Am I alright to cross post that on the CA thread about national resilience? The Cold War ended, and the USSR was dissolved, when I was at school. However some security measures taken in 1990/91 got my interest, as did a planned plot by the IRA to attack the electrical supply to London.

Later studying and working in electronic/Communications engineering has increased my interest. In the town that is the administrative and economic centre for my part of the world, there is a telephone exchange that I think was completed in the early nineties. It is a brick building - with no windows. The window spaces are bricked.

Hardening? Or just security? This a comparatively small town with no great strategic targets nearby.
Post away! Some of the security measures in the mid 1990s was blocking off parking under motorway bridges, for example, and better anti-intruder measures at sub-stations etc, along with a near-exponential growth in the use of CCTV.

Your local telephone exchange could have been an important node in a network; moreover they are targeted by vandals and metal thieves.
 
A lot of CNI (eg water reticulation and the rail network) were hardened in the late 1930s. Some of these features can be seen today - such as blast walls around exchanges, switch gear and pumping stations; ground floor windows bricked up in continuously manned buildings to serve as refuges; concrete roof slabs etc. These measures, of course, were to mitigate the effects of conventional bombing. From the late 1960s onwards architectural guidance was given by MPWB (later PSA) about blast protection from nuclear weapons, and PF from radiation and this coincided with the extensive and Brutalist use of ferro-concrete which has a high PF and blast and shockwave resistance. The BT tower is an example, as is the very large microwave tower in Harpenden, which you can see from the M40 near High Wycombe. This was part of a protected LOS comms network. In the 1970s (qv 'Defence of the Realm' by Chris Andrews) it as realised that Spetznaz would be positioned or landed in the UK to forment unrest, take out key leaders and to disrupt public life by attacking CNI. During TTW, TA and Home Defence Forces, supplemented by RAF Personnel, inter alia, would be deployed as Key Point Guards - to protect CNI from sabotage by Spetznaz, loopy 5th Columnists and 'Peaceniks'. Very early in my career during a TACEVAL, I was deployed with a section to guard some very elderly GWR rolling stock in a siding in Much Wenlock (I think) which contained a mobile 'post ERT' telephone exchange, which would lay cables trackside across the country and restore a telephone network for the railways and LA.

Post Cold War, there has been little official encouragement to protect CNI against EMP; partly because of the sense it isn't needed and partly because public utilities in the UK have been privatised and largely deregulated, so they are unlikely to spend large sums of money protecting against an infinitesimal risk. The sad thing is that 30 years on, we may have lost many of these skills to protect CNI.

Interesting, I had never heard of railway-borne mobile telephone exchanges. I am aware of some major exchanges that were constructed underground (Kingsway, Anchor, Guardian etc), but never mobile. It is of course possible, that being part of what R SIGNALS does, but with wheeled/tracked vehicles.

I did a bit of Googling to dig into it, and came up with this:


That describes some very limited capability to temporarily lay cables around major cities for the railways’ use with mobile control centers. Seems to be dedicated to regional railway control though, and was very short lived (60s only).

The whole subject is somewhat doomed to failure because thre’s no way to accurately predict the damage inflicted. If the whole thing had gone all-out nuclear, there’d be no trains to run on the track that had been destroyed, so no need to control them. At a lesser level of engagement, say a single bomb on, oh I don’t know, Oxford say, as a “make peace or you get another 500 of these“ message, then indeed, they would have been useful. But what if it’s Crewe? Or Newcastle? Or Exeter? Or it’s four bombs, and it’s Norwich, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn? All roughly in the same patch, and there’s one mobile train for that part of the world.

It must have been very difficult to do that kind of work in the early Cold War, because you don’t really know the enemy’s capability, will, or strategy. As well as weapons becoming more accurate, more powerful (and then less powerful but more of them) all the time, making your plans obsolete.
 

Slime

LE
Interesting, I had never heard of railway-borne mobile telephone exchanges. I am aware of some major exchanges that were constructed underground (Kingsway, Anchor, Guardian etc), but never mobile. It is of course possible, that being part of what R SIGNALS does, but with wheeled/tracked vehicles.

I did a bit of Googling to dig into it, and came up with this:


That describes some very limited capability to temporarily lay cables around major cities for the railways’ use with mobile control centers. Seems to be dedicated to regional railway control though, and was very short lived (60s only).

The whole subject is somewhat doomed to failure because thre’s no way to accurately predict the damage inflicted. If the whole thing had gone all-out nuclear, there’d be no trains to run on the track that had been destroyed, so no need to control them. At a lesser level of engagement, say a single bomb on, oh I don’t know, Oxford say, as a “make peace or you get another 500 of these“ message, then indeed, they would have been useful. But what if it’s Crewe? Or Newcastle? Or Exeter? Or it’s four bombs, and it’s Norwich, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn? All roughly in the same patch, and there’s one mobile train for that part of the world.

It must have been very difficult to do that kind of work in the early Cold War, because you don’t really know the enemy’s capability, will, or strategy. As well as weapons becoming more accurate, more powerful (and then less powerful but more of them) all the time, making your plans obsolete.

There were also some special rail carriages for use in nuclear war.
I can’t remember the exact number, but 6 springs to mind.
They were painted all black. Apologies for forgetting, but there was another ARRSE poster who knew about them, and posted some photos.
 
Interesting, I had never heard of railway-borne mobile telephone exchanges. I am aware of some major exchanges that were constructed underground (Kingsway, Anchor, Guardian etc), but never mobile. It is of course possible, that being part of what R SIGNALS does, but with wheeled/tracked vehicles.

I did a bit of Googling to dig into it, and came up with this:


That describes some very limited capability to temporarily lay cables around major cities for the railways’ use with mobile control centers. Seems to be dedicated to regional railway control though, and was very short lived (60s only).

The whole subject is somewhat doomed to failure because thre’s no way to accurately predict the damage inflicted. If the whole thing had gone all-out nuclear, there’d be no trains to run on the track that had been destroyed, so no need to control them. At a lesser level of engagement, say a single bomb on, oh I don’t know, Oxford say, as a “make peace or you get another 500 of these“ message, then indeed, they would have been useful. But what if it’s Crewe? Or Newcastle? Or Exeter? Or it’s four bombs, and it’s Norwich, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn? All roughly in the same patch, and there’s one mobile train for that part of the world.

It must have been very difficult to do that kind of work in the early Cold War, because you don’t really know the enemy’s capability, will, or strategy. As well as weapons becoming more accurate, more powerful (and then less powerful but more of them) all the time, making your plans obsolete.
Thanks for that link. Another interesting document to read. The Railway operating Companies were effectively nationalised during WWII and control was centralised, and it would be interesting to see how lessons learned were applied to the Cold War challenges. I recall reading that even though the LMS Emergency Control Centre had been bombed, the Railway Executive were able to restore services with minimum delay. When you see the damage inflicted on major stations for example, it is incredible that any service could be maintained. There's a very poignant memorial at York Station where a member of staff, who was a keen first aider, rescued a number off people during one of the Baedeker Raids, and died as he returned to render assistance to those still trapped. According to one website, all mainline overground termini in London, 23 other railway stations, 12 trolleybus and tram stations and 15 bus stations were hit during 1940-1945. London Transport reported 181 staff deaths in the Blitz and over 9,000 separate damage incidents.

St Pancras:

1611757615723.png



Victoria Station - damage from one raid in the blitz:

1611757767908.png


Manchester Victoria:
1611757871114.png
 
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Thanks for that link. Another interesting document to read. The Railway operating Companies were effectively nationalised during WWII and control was centralised, and it would be interesting to see how lessons learned were applied to the Cold War challenges. I recall reading that even though the LMS Emergency Control Centre had been bombed, the Railway Executive were able to restore services with minimum delay. When you see the damage inflicted on major stations for example, it is incredible that any service could be maintained. There's a very poignant memorial at York Station where a member of staff, who was a keen first aider, rescued a number off people during one of the Baedeker Raids, and died as he returned to render assistance to those still trapped.

St Pancras:

View attachment 543538


Victoria Station - damage from one raid in the blitz:

View attachment 543542

Manchester Victoria:
View attachment 543544
Thinking about this, in spite of 24/7 Combined Bomber Offensive ('Transport Plan') on the German-run railway network across Europe, trains ran through to the end of the war.
 

4(T)

LE
It must have been very difficult to do that kind of work in the early Cold War, because you don’t really know the enemy’s capability, will, or strategy. As well as weapons becoming more accurate, more powerful (and then less powerful but more of them) all the time, making your plans obsolete.


At least until the 60s, there was a lot of hard experience in coping with severe conventional bombing damage. Thus the railways and other organisations did have a baseline upon which to plan - not least they still employed many of the chaps who'd done the work in WW2.

I've mentioned in other threads that my paternal grandfather spent WW2 repairing damaged rail and utility infrastructure. They were on the job 24/7 - just a few days at home each month, otherwise living in field conditions wherever required on the network. (My grandfather died young, his health broken from overwork during this period).
 

LD17

MIA
Didn't the Junior Leader units have a role as well.?I remember reading about them involved in EX Brave Defender in 1988. I suppose they would have been like a British version of the 12 SS Division HJ.

I wonder if there was a plan to take over civilian helicopters to use in a home defence role for use by QRF's in the way that the RN took up 'Ships taken up from Trade' (STUFT) ? as used in the Falklands in 1982?
@par avion
Digging around and found this.......
1611760637203.png


from the UKLF ORBAT Review Action Plan
 
Thinking about this, in spite of 24/7 Combined Bomber Offensive ('Transport Plan') on the German-run railway network across Europe, trains ran through to the end of the war.

I wonder what the thinking was behind the target selection?

From a layman's perspective, I would have thought that if the Allied bombers targeted say every railway bridge over the Rhein, such that there were none left at all, it would cause the enemy major disruption. Or bomb every coal mine, and power station. Things that can't be rebuilt quickly. Mine winding gear and turbines aren't something that can be restored quickly.

I find it interesting that in GW2, the power stations and comms facilities were initial targets. Comms facilities may have been a more difficult proposition in WW2 as there were fewer of them and, and relatively easy to put in hardened buildings and/or underground, but power stations are a blindingly obvious target. Total destruction of those would have banjaxed industrial capability and civilian morale. I suppose it would have to have been later in the war to achieve the accuracy and tonnage required to assure destruction, and at lesser cost to own forces through attrition of enemy defences. But it doesn't seem to have been done in a deliberate manner, like the targeting of ball bearing factories was.
 
I wonder what the thinking was behind the target selection?

From a layman's perspective, I would have thought that if the Allied bombers targeted say every railway bridge over the Rhein, such that there were none left at all, it would cause the enemy major disruption. Or bomb every coal mine, and power station. Things that can't be rebuilt quickly. Mine winding gear and turbines aren't something that can be restored quickly.

I find it interesting that in GW2, the power stations and comms facilities were initial targets. Comms facilities may have been a more difficult proposition in WW2 as there were fewer of them and, and relatively easy to put in hardened buildings and/or underground, but power stations are a blindingly obvious target. Total destruction of those would have banjaxed industrial capability and civilian morale. I suppose it would have to have been later in the war to achieve the accuracy and tonnage required to assure destruction, and at lesser cost to own forces through attrition of enemy defences. But it doesn't seem to have been done in a deliberate manner, like the targeting of ball bearing faofctories was.
I wrote a staff paper on the Transport Plan; the challenge in France prior to DDay was to damage the network to the point of failure but without killing too many Frenchmen. The problem with blowing up critical bridges is that these would be needed to invade Germany. Moreover, bombing accuracy made hitting point targets challenging but not impossible; there were some superb examples of pinpoint bombing. I'll write more idc; have a Teams call now.

ETA: here's quite a good review: The War on the Rails - Air Force Magazine
 
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....................Similarly, quite a few LAs only paid lip-service to preparedness - the rise of Nuclear Free Zones (thanks KGB!) in the 1970s and 1980s saw (Labour) councils dis-invest in passive and civilian defensive measure on the basis that it was 'pointless', but I bet a few bottoms would clench if Naval and Frontal Aviation unit started clashing with NATO forces....

As I said in post #108 "thank f**k things never turned hot".
 

LD17

MIA
Hopefully by the Spring I can get my hands on this:
Conceptual and Analytical Studies: Operational Sub-Concept for Land Defence of the UK 1998-2013

1987 Dec 14 - 1988 Sept 30

 
wonder what the thinking was behind the target selection?
At the very least, it was optimistic, given what we know now about the dispersion of dumb bombs (dropped 'by hand' as it were) with the navigation and target marking techniques of the day, and in the face of severe concentrations defensive fire from air and ground assets.
 

Yokel

LE
Like they did with PPE? Colour me sceptical.

Cynic! I know where you are coming from, so hopefully keeping an eye on potential sources of these sorts of things would have been a constant task for civil servants, diplomats, and the intelligence services.

Foreseeing the demand and knowing where to look helps.
 
Cynic! I know where you are coming from, so hopefully keeping an eye on potential sources of these sorts of things would have been a constant task for civil servants, diplomats, and the intelligence services.

Foreseeing the demand and knowing where to look helps.
If they had left it to that point to start procuring supplies then, I suspect, it would have been far too late.
 

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