Cold war Home Defense Questions

Queen's Order No 1 permitted large sections of the Government War Book to be brought in to play. Civilian Air Traffic Control came under military control, for example, which is why RAF West Drayton was collocated with London ATC. The M4 became the Nuclear Corridor and the A1 a military controlled road and closed to non-essential traffic. Government Departments would implement their own War Books; British Rail would begin to disperse locomotives and critical rolling stock, and allocate resources to critical RES duties (eg cable laying and carriage mounted mobile telephone exchanges). The NHS would stop all elective operations and clear out care homes in anticipation of receiving casualties (this processed commenced during the build up to GRANBY). An appeal for blood donors would be made. Utility companies - then in public ownership - started to physically reinforce facilities against both sabotage and bomb damage, and staff their offsite control centres. Bore holes would be readied for use. Electrical Boards and the National Grid would ensure key switch gear spares were protected against EMP.

Local authorities would staff emergency war headquarters and commence post strike welfare planning - feeding, housing, debris clearance and body disposal. Working with the NHS and volunteer organisations, they would plan 'Special Rest Centres' for fallout victims who were unlikely to survive. Police Forces would provide staff officers to RSGs and to LA war HQ; they would also ensure the air attack alert system (sirens) worked. They would also round up 'aliens' and register them. Police stations would be scaled for rifles and pistols. Detention without charge was also permitted.

BT would ensure the CLBS was not only functioning, but networked to survive strikes. BBC would move essential staff to regional and hardened broadcast facilities (Corsham and Bristol, to name two locations). Backup radio broadcast transmitters would be readied across the country.

Trinity House would come under Admiralty control and consideration to extinguishing navigation lights would be made. RNXS would be mobilised; some of there activities included having small ships in the north sea and the channel acting as raid picquets, reporting inbound low level raids. C&W cable layers would revert to their typical wartime duties of locating and severing hostile sea cables. The Crown Agents would immediately scour the world to secure supplies of iodine tablets, antibiotics and strategic materials. Government departments would begin to disperse staff around the country and key staff would man government and regional war HQs.

All in all a 'whole of government' approach.
Thank you. Just out of interest any idea on the other 2?
 
Thank you. Just out of interest any idea on the other 2?

QO2 mobilised the TA.

It was a blunt instrument as it mobilised ALL of the TA. Hence it couldn’t be used in GW1 for calling up people for roles in which there was a shortfall.

I had become a STAB by this point and I was asked if I would volunteer to be a BCR. No problem (my university gave me time off) but they took ages to work out what paperwork needed to be done.
 
If they had left it to that point to start procuring supplies then, I suspect, it would have been far too late.
Queen's Order No 1 also activated shadow contracts for the provision of all types of services, from taking ships up from trade to mass provision of pharmaceuticals and compulsory release of stockpiles. Some of these would have been activated during the Alert period
 
I've been doing some digging, but there is no evidence that Queen's Orders have been rescinded; the contents of the order were (are?) secret, as were the contents of the Government War Book.
 
Longish but interesting read:

Despite this negative reception, the Home Office was convinced that it should create a successor to Protect and Survive, which would deal with the perceived inadequacies in the early publication and be politically expedient. Protect and Survive had failed in its objective of convincing the general public that civil defence was viable. Alongside the development of a communal shelter policy, the UK government considered a ‘rewrite’ of the much lambasted Protect and Survive. This booklet was to be larger than the original:

Unlike ‘Protect and Survive’, the new booklet will be for peacetime sale only, and its size increased to 70 pages. For crisis information we will rely on material drawn from the new booklet, prepared for newspaper copy and for TV and radio broadcast.25


The revised version of Protect and Survive would consist of 19 ‘sequences’ (probably short public information films, or announcements) for TV and radio covering methods of attack/warning sounds, conventional weapons, chemical weapons, nuclear attack, planning a survival kit, wartime broadcasting and regional government, caring for the sick and injured and disposal of the dead.26

 

Yokel

LE
Here is a (not very) cheerful documentary presented by Duncan Campbell:



Some of the questions asked and put to interviewees seem very odd - such as would US forces under attack be allowed to defend themselves. Given that a general war in Europe during this period would been the worst crisis ever, why was anyone surprised that extra legal powers would be needed? Given that Thatcher and Reagan were frequently portrayed as nuclear warmongers, surely the news that thousands of hospital beds were sought was an indication that they wanted to avoid a nuclear exchange at all costs?
 
1 min in

"one of the major wartime tasks of the United Kingdom is to receive massive amounts of materiel and personnel and move the efficiently into the combat zone"

I, obviously, haven't watched beyond that yet but it suggests already that the UK is one big target and my guess is that it won't, for long at least, be with conventional weapons.
 

Yokel

LE
He also wrote War Plan UK - well written but disturbing. Someone on here commented that HM Government viewed him as distracting attention from real plans. The book starts with a look of the leaked plans of the cancelled Home Defence exercise Hard Rock.

As I remember the official scenario involved East/West relations souring over a period of months, increased Warsaw Pact military activity, and eventually what we would now consider grey zone activities - harassing shipping and aviation, stopping diving operations in the North Sea by Soviet warships using active sonar, industrial sabotage, and terrorism.
 
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.
Reading that extensively-research document, I think what were we meant to protect was a mobile operations centre, which was effectively a telephone exchange and an ops room, housed in very elderly, and if I recall correctly, wooden-sided rolling stock.
 
Surfing the net yesterday for some reason led me to Exercise Square Leg, a 1980 exercise covering TTW and attack phases of a Soviet nuclear strike on the the UK.


To my mind, it shows the utter futility of it all. The exercise scenario had 205MT dropped on the UK in about 130 strikes. That caused 53% mortality, a further 12% seriously injured. Hiroshima had about the same number of dead as injured, so either the exercise scenario had overlapping strikes where if one bomb didn’t kill you, the next one would, or it was woefully inadequate in estimating numbers of injured.

The exercise had only MT-range weapons, and apparently London was spared. With the advent of MIRVs, it could be reasonably expected that London would receive dozens of warheads, each in the hundreds of KT range. Just like Moscow.

In the TTW phase, they have fuel rationing imposed on 16 August. Limited panic buying in shops not reported until nearly a month later. Coronovirus-triggered panic buying was pretty much universal all over the world in early 2020. Seems very unrealistic to think that the public would not stock up once a pretty clear combat indicator of “trouble at t’mill” had surfaced. You’d have serious public order problems well before the actual kick-off.

Post strike, there’s an example of Gloucestershire’s response to exercise serials. 8,000 people involved in a disturbance in Gloucester. 25 armed troops sent. WTAF? Even with SLRs, 25 blokes are not going to deal with 8000 people, who want their food, weapons and vehicles.

I save the most damning part of the article for last. The post exercise report apparently recognised that although the scenario called for 205MT of weapons, in actuality, it was likely to be over 1000MT.

Perhaps the MT-only scenario was borne of some senior CS and officers’ 1960s thinking? MIRVs had been around since the mid-70s, but that was only 5ish years before the exercise.

The whole thing just doesn’t bear thinking about. A very modest attack scenario results in only 19 million left. Before the radiation, starvation and homelessness gets them.
 

Yokel

LE
Surfing the net yesterday for some reason led me to Exercise Square Leg, a 1980 exercise covering TTW and attack phases of a Soviet nuclear strike on the the UK.


To my mind, it shows the utter futility of it all. The exercise scenario had 205MT dropped on the UK in about 130 strikes. That caused 53% mortality, a further 12% seriously injured. Hiroshima had about the same number of dead as injured, so either the exercise scenario had overlapping strikes where if one bomb didn’t kill you, the next one would, or it was woefully inadequate in estimating numbers of injured.

The exercise had only MT-range weapons, and apparently London was spared. With the advent of MIRVs, it could be reasonably expected that London would receive dozens of warheads, each in the hundreds of KT range. Just like Moscow.

In the TTW phase, they have fuel rationing imposed on 16 August. Limited panic buying in shops not reported until nearly a month later. Coronovirus-triggered panic buying was pretty much universal all over the world in early 2020. Seems very unrealistic to think that the public would not stock up once a pretty clear combat indicator of “trouble at t’mill” had surfaced. You’d have serious public order problems well before the actual kick-off.

Post strike, there’s an example of Gloucestershire’s response to exercise serials. 8,000 people involved in a disturbance in Gloucester. 25 armed troops sent. WTAF? Even with SLRs, 25 blokes are not going to deal with 8000 people, who want their food, weapons and vehicles.

I save the most damning part of the article for last. The post exercise report apparently recognised that although the scenario called for 205MT of weapons, in actuality, it was likely to be over 1000MT.

Perhaps the MT-only scenario was borne of some senior CS and officers’ 1960s thinking? MIRVs had been around since the mid-70s, but that was only 5ish years before the exercise.

The whole thing just doesn’t bear thinking about. A very modest attack scenario results in only 19 million left. Before the radiation, starvation and homelessness gets them.

Which is why it came down to diplomacy and deterrence - both nuclear and conventional. Major exercises in Germany, amphibious exercise in Norway, or rehearsing defending reinforcements coming across the Atlantic were all part of that. I think that Home Defence was part of that.
 
Surfing the net yesterday for some reason led me to Exercise Square Leg, a 1980 exercise covering TTW and attack phases of a Soviet nuclear strike on the the UK.


To my mind, it shows the utter futility of it all. The exercise scenario had 205MT dropped on the UK in about 130 strikes. That caused 53% mortality, a further 12% seriously injured. Hiroshima had about the same number of dead as injured, so either the exercise scenario had overlapping strikes where if one bomb didn’t kill you, the next one would, or it was woefully inadequate in estimating numbers of injured.

The exercise had only MT-range weapons, and apparently London was spared. With the advent of MIRVs, it could be reasonably expected that London would receive dozens of warheads, each in the hundreds of KT range. Just like Moscow.

In the TTW phase, they have fuel rationing imposed on 16 August. Limited panic buying in shops not reported until nearly a month later. Coronovirus-triggered panic buying was pretty much universal all over the world in early 2020. Seems very unrealistic to think that the public would not stock up once a pretty clear combat indicator of “trouble at t’mill” had surfaced. You’d have serious public order problems well before the actual kick-off.

Post strike, there’s an example of Gloucestershire’s response to exercise serials. 8,000 people involved in a disturbance in Gloucester. 25 armed troops sent. WTAF? Even with SLRs, 25 blokes are not going to deal with 8000 people, who want their food, weapons and vehicles.

I save the most damning part of the article for last. The post exercise report apparently recognised that although the scenario called for 205MT of weapons, in actuality, it was likely to be over 1000MT.

Perhaps the MT-only scenario was borne of some senior CS and officers’ 1960s thinking? MIRVs had been around since the mid-70s, but that was only 5ish years before the exercise.

The whole thing just doesn’t bear thinking about. A very modest attack scenario results in only 19 million left. Before the radiation, starvation and homelessness gets them.
I recall a TACEVAL at Leeming in 1991 and arbitrary decision made about loss of personnel and equipment when the station was bombed by conventional attack (Jaguars, if I recall). When ERT was reached (Middlesborough being nuked) it was decided by the Exercise controllers that all equipment not in HAS or HES was U/S, along with all personnel outside, including those in Sangars.

Another thing that I recall was the canary test/sniff test. Before we unmasked after an attack in a hardened (and air-filtered facility), the most junior or most expendable member of staff had to gradually lift off their mask and sniff, whilst everyone watched them for spasms, narrowing pupils, breathing problems etc.


But my abiding memory was the bombing of Middlesborough. A cheer rose in the Hardened Ops Facility!
 
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Which is why it came down to diplomacy and deterrence - both nuclear and conventional. Major exercises in Germany, amphibious exercise in Norway, or rehearsing defending reinforcements coming across the Atlantic were all part of that. I think that Home Defence was part of that.

"To win, you are going to have to go to lengths that will legitimately allow us to try and kill you all."
 

Yokel

LE
"To win, you are going to have to go to lengths that will legitimately allow us to try and kill you all."

I was not thinking in those terms. I was thinking thinking in terms of all NATO plans relied on transatlantic reinforcement. A large part of home defence was securing lines of communication, so that things like armoured forces based in the US could move to Europe in good time.

It worked!
 
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I was not thinking in those terms. I was thinking thinking in terms of all NATO plans relied on transatlantic reinforcement. A large part of home defence was securing lines of communication, so that things like armoured forces based in the US could move to Europe in good time.

It worked!

I think you might be overestimating the reliance on reinforcement from CONUS. NATO had something like 30 divisions available to it in the 80s in Germany. To avoid the obvious escalation that sea lifting thousands of Armoured Vehicles to West Germany would inevitably have become, they were prepositioned.

Places like Zutendaal, Herongen, Mönchengladbach, Burtonwood etc were huge materiel parks with no soldiers. I was just a STAB at the time, but my unit had a NATO role, rather than a 1(BR) Corps role, and we used these locations. Thousands upon thousands of vehicles just waiting for the troops to fly in.

But to put it in context, there were only three divisions' worth, which would represent around 10% of NATO strength in West Germany. Even in my time (80s-90s, late Cold War), Germany was just jam-packed full of soldiers. There were barracks in just about every town and city. Huge garrisons, such as Osnabrück, Fallingbostel, Hohne; they had 3-5 major units each. The airfields were simply enormous. Considerably larger than UK RAF stations.

I don't know if you've ever been to JHQ, but it's so large that it had its own "stadtteil" in Mönchengladbach. It really was its own town. It had a fully-fledged RAF hospital, schools, town centre shopping, more bars than I can think of off the top of my head, swimming pool, gyms, houses, plus the actual HQ and associated barracks. About 10,000 people lived and worked there.

And that was only the HQ for the northern bit.

I'm not saying the maritime element didn't have a part to play, but it would have been a "come as you are party", so the vast majority of reinforcement would have been by air, but even so, "all NATO plans relied on transatlantic reinforcement" is a bit of an overstatement. To put it another way; if that had been true, then Western security would have hung by the thread of that reinforcement being successful or not. Very much overstating the case. The gear was already there, about 10% of the blokes needed to be flown in.

Another way to think of it is the Active Edge exercise. Some or all of 1 (BR) Corps would be regularly crashed out, simulating Ivan coming over the fence with pretty much zero notice. That was what was trained for. So if it had happened for real, Ivan's trundling West down the A2, and Nato's going "Well, shit, best start shipping them tanks from Texas". Meantime the Soviets have set their eyes on Calais-Antwerp in a week to 10 days. All over before any tanks from the US would have got there, even assuming the Soviet Navy didn't take an interest in hods of USNSs laden with tanks headed east.
 

Yokel

LE
I think you might be overestimating the reliance on reinforcement from CONUS. NATO had something like 30 divisions available to it in the 80s in Germany. To avoid the obvious escalation that sea lifting thousands of Armoured Vehicles to West Germany would inevitably have become, they were prepositioned.

Places like Zutendaal, Herongen, Mönchengladbach, Burtonwood etc were huge materiel parks with no soldiers. I was just a STAB at the time, but my unit had a NATO role, rather than a 1(BR) Corps role, and we used these locations. Thousands upon thousands of vehicles just waiting for the troops to fly in.

But to put it in context, there were only three divisions' worth, which would represent around 10% of NATO strength in West Germany. Even in my time (80s-90s, late Cold War), Germany was just jam-packed full of soldiers. There were barracks in just about every town and city. Huge garrisons, such as Osnabrück, Fallingbostel, Hohne; they had 3-5 major units each. The airfields were simply enormous. Considerably larger than UK RAF stations.

I don't know if you've ever been to JHQ, but it's so large that it had its own "stadtteil" in Mönchengladbach. It really was its own town. It had a fully-fledged RAF hospital, schools, town centre shopping, more bars than I can think of off the top of my head, swimming pool, gyms, houses, plus the actual HQ and associated barracks. About 10,000 people lived and worked there.

And that was only the HQ for the northern bit.

I'm not saying the maritime element didn't have a part to play, but it would have been a "come as you are party", so the vast majority of reinforcement would have been by air, but even so, "all NATO plans relied on transatlantic reinforcement" is a bit of an overstatement. To put it another way; if that had been true, then Western security would have hung by the thread of that reinforcement being successful or not. Very much overstating the case. The gear was already there, about 10% of the blokes needed to be flown in.

Another way to think of it is the Active Edge exercise. Some or all of 1 (BR) Corps would be regularly crashed out, simulating Ivan coming over the fence with pretty much zero notice. That was what was trained for. So if it had happened for real, Ivan's trundling West down the A2, and Nato's going "Well, shit, best start shipping them tanks from Texas". Meantime the Soviets have set their eyes on Calais-Antwerp in a week to 10 days. All over before any tanks from the US would have got there, even assuming the Soviet Navy didn't take an interest in hods of USNSs laden with tanks headed east.

You mentioned the Exercise Square Leg - that had a period of a month between the first transition to war measures and fighting starting. The preamble to the leaked plans for Exercise Hard Rock also talked of months of deteriorating East/West relations. There would have been multiple warnings and indicators.

The Reforger exercises were to demonstrate the ability to reinforce in time of crisis. @Not a Boffin might be able to tell you more. NATO naval strategy was all about securing the Atlantic SLOCs.
 

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