Cold war Home Defense Questions

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.

I'm not doubting for one second what the naval strategy was. But the majority of the kit for the reinforcements was already in theatre. Have a look at 51°22'13.86"N, 6°14'14.09"E. That place was full of US kit, and it's not even in the US area.

It still goes on to this day. 51°49'54.47"N, 7°18'28.81"E is the Dülmen depot, which the US took over when the RLC left.

Even the UK retains Ayrshire South Park, which conversely, used to belong to the US. 51° 9'44.27"N, 6°23'56.50"E, full of Challengers, AS90s etc.
 

Yokel

LE
Even so - NATO would have needed to ship something like 100 000 tons of stuff across the Atlantic per day:

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GIUK80s 002.jpg


GIUK80s 003.jpg


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GIUK80s 005.jpg


Hence the heavy NATO investment in submarines, frigates (including those with towed arrays), anti air warfare destroyers/cruisers, carriers with fighters and ASW aircraft, helicopters for other ships, aircraft with anti ship capabilities, maritime patrol aircraft.... Not forgetting defending British and European ports and approaches to ports.

You might also be interested in this thread about a 1970s US Congress report into Sea Control in the Atlantic.
 

HE117

LE
The US also had a fleet of large cargo ships filled with kit that just cruised around waiting to be positioned where needed.. I got involved in turning over ammo stocks in one.. they were BIG as US logistics tend to be.. The Maritime Prepositioning Force is still, I believe, in existence, although it seems to lurk more around the far east these days...
 
The US also had a fleet of large cargo ships filled with kit that just cruised around waiting to be positioned where needed.. I got involved in turning over ammo stocks in one.. they were BIG as US logistics tend to be.. The Maritime Prepositioning Force is still, I believe, in existence, although it seems to lurk more around the far east these days...
Meh . . . ;) !!


MARITIME PRE-POSITIONING FORCE (MPF)
The MPF is a strategic power-projection capability that combines the lift capacity, flexibility, and responsiveness of surface ships with the speed of strategic airlift. The Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS) of the MPF are strategically forward deployed and provide Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCC) with persistent forward presence and rapid crisis response by prepositioning most of the combat equipment and supplies required to equip and sustain two MEBs for 30 days.

The MPF is organized into two Maritime Pre-positioning Ship Squadrons (MPSRON), with seven ships per Squadron (14 ships total). MPSRON-2 is based at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and MPSRON-3 is based in Guam and Saipan in the Western Pacific Ocean . . .

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Strategic sealift ships are part of the United States Military Sealift Command's (MSC) prepositioning program. There are currently 49[1][2] ships in the program, strategically positioned around the world to support the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency. Most are named after Medal of Honor recipients from the service they support.[2][3][4] The ships are assigned to two[5] Military Prepositioning Ship (MPS) squadrons[6] located in the Indian Ocean at Diego Garcia and in the Western Pacific Ocean at Guam and Saipan.

The MPS ships in each squadron have sufficient equipment, supplies and ammunition to support a Marine Air-Ground Task Force for 30 days. The MPS ships are self-sustaining, with cranes to unload at sea or pierside. MSC chartered the first two ship classes in the MPS role (the Corporal Louis J. Hauge Jr. and Sergeant Matej Kocak classes) from civilian shipping lines and converted them. Later ships were purpose-built . . .

1612890477655.png
 

LD17

MIA
The US also had a fleet of large cargo ships filled with kit that just cruised around waiting to be positioned where needed.. I got involved in turning over ammo stocks in one.. they were BIG as US logistics tend to be.. The Maritime Prepositioning Force is still, I believe, in existence, although it seems to lurk more around the far east these days...
Those were circa late 1980’s, the Maritime Prepositioning Sqns. They were for Marine Amphibious Brigades (MABs). One was at Diego Garcia for CENTCOM, one in WESTPAC for Korea, and one in the MED IIRC. At the time I believe the MAB going to Norway was finally having its equipment stored in caves in Southern Norway.

US Army had the POMCUS sites (I believe @Roadster280 mentioned them) in FRG, LUX, BE, & NE. The plan was to fly over the troops to man the equipment, it was called “10-in-10” .....10 Division equivalents on the ground in 10 Days. The cunning plan was this:
NORTHAG
III Corp
- 1 Cav Div (Arm)
- 2 Arm Div
- 5 Inf Div (Mech)
- 3 ACR
(1 Cav & 5 Inf only had two active Bdes, they were supposed to be “rounded-out” by Army National Guard units, think TA. But according to Congressional testimony the Army didn’t really plan on those ARNG units going in the 10 days. So POMCUS had stocks for the regular Army 194 Arm Bde & 197 Inf Bde (Mech) that would round those units out.)

CENTAG
V Corp
- 4 Inf Div (Mech)
- 8 Inf Div (Mech)
- 3 Arm Div
- 11 ACR
VII Corp
- 1 Inf Div (Mech)
- 3 Inf Div (Mech)
- 1 Arm Div
- 2 ACR

So 9 full Divs & the ACRs are just a little over 1/3 of a Div each so you have your 10-in-10.
IIRC correctly Burtonwood in Cheshire also had POMCUS equipment, mostly Medical & Logistics but I also have read that 9 Inf Div was supposed to fly over and draw equipment from there and become SACEUR’s Strategic Reserve.

Finally, the US bought eight Algol Class high speed (33 knots) Ro-Ros that could, together, transport a whole Arm/Mech Div to Europe in 6 days.
 
IIRC correctly Burtonwood in Cheshire also had POMCUS equipment, mostly Medical & Logistics
The USAF had all the equipment for a reserve hospital, in the event of war, at the former RAF station Little Rissington, Gloucestershire former home of the Red Arrows between 1981 and 1991. Par Avion senior worked there for 10 years after he left the RAF having started off in supply and finishing in Air Movements, with his last posting being the Air Movements School at RAF Brize Norton.
 
The USAF had all the equipment for a reserve hospital, in the event of war, at the former RAF station Little Rissington, Gloucestershire former home of the Red Arrows between 1981 and 1991. Par Avion senior worked there for 10 years after he left the RAF having started off in supply and finishing in Air Movements, with his last posting being the Air Movements School at RAF Brize Norton.
And RAFH Nocton Hall, in Lincs.


The entry is not quite correct, as it remained open for out patients .
 
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!
Ah TACEVAL, the idea that 7 firemen with only 2 ba sets could sort out a bombed hanger full of airframes in 30 mins just shows we had no idea at all
 

Yokel

LE
This article from Sir Humphrey may interest you: Planning for the End - UK Central Government in WW3

Most of it is familiar - but not this bit:

Under the new plans the UK government would essentially split into two groups. At the onset of the crisis the Prime Minister would nominate a series of deputies (numbers varied but somewhere between 4-6 seems likely) who were mid ranking Ministers.

These Ministers would essentially become ‘Prime Minister (designate)’ in a ranking order and then team up with a smallish group of somewhere between 100-250 people drawn from the military and wider civil service.

These groups were then sent around the country to a variety of predetermined sites including remote locations in Scotland, and Aberystwyth University. Three specifically military sites including Bovington, HMS OSPREY (the RN base in Portland) and RNAS Culdrose, where three groups would arrive. They would then go radio silent, and then wait for the bombs to drop and the world to end.

Meanwhile the intention appears to have been clear that the War Cabinet would have remained in London until the end – there is no reference in any declassified documents to senior members of Government escaping from London. Instead the function of the Cabinet would be to order nuclear release and then perish under the MOD, located in PINDAR (the Defence Crisis Management Centre) as the first bombs hit.

After the strike, the PYTHON groups would pop up from wherever they had sheltered, and using TA home defence radio networks, try to establish communications with what was left of government and then work out who was in charge. At this point, the most senior surviving ‘PM Desig’ would find themselves as the Prime Minister of what was left of the UK.
 
My understanding is that, as the cold war progressed, nuclear strategy changed to ensure that government bunkers (some at least) survived in order that ceasefire could still be negotiated. I doubt that the capital cities themselves though would be spared.
 

Yokel

LE
It might have been on the thread about defence planning in the eighties, or on this thread, that I asked about likely warning periods.

This is from the Struggle for Survival page by Subterranea Britannica:

9 October

Following the seizure of power last month in the Soviet Union by an extreme nationalistic group relations between the Soviet Block and the West continue to worsen. There are indications that Warsaw Pact forces are preparing for full mobilisation and the Soviet Union has demanded the demilitarisation of West Germany. In Britain, Government attempts to play down the situation have been largely unsuccessful. There is growing concern in the media and organised demonstrations by peace groups become a daily occurrence. Public concern is reflected in a run on long-life food. The Government orders all departments to 24 hour manning. Local authorities are instructed to make limited preparatory actions to implement their war plans under Stage 2 including 24 hour manning of Main Emergency Centres. Several Nuclear Free Zone aligned councils refuse causing the tabloid press to call for a firm response from and support for the Government.

10 October

The Prime Minister announces that as a precaution the reinforcement of Europe by NATO forces would be increased. The first two Emergency Powers Acts are passed through Parliament in 36 hours and under pre-prepared Regulations the Government takes extra powers to requisition transport and equipment to help military preparations and in particular the movement of US forces through Britain. In the evening, the first squadron of F-111 bombers arrives at RAF Thurleigh from the United States.

The Home Office instructs local authorities to collect RADIAC equipment from stores and begin crash training in its use. They are also told to begin training the many people volunteering for civil defence duties.

The Property Service Agency is ordered to prepare the Regional Government Headquarters. Senior staff are designated and told to prepare to take up their posts.

The BBC is instructed to bring the Wartime Broadcasting Service to readiness. Staff are dispatched to the emergency facility at Wood Norton near Evesham and the emergency cell in Broadcasting House is manned and its facilities to receive and broadcast attack warnings checked. Transmitter sites earmarked for WTBS use are stocked with fuel and food.

UKWMO is put on a war alert and Royal Observer Corps members warned to be prepared to man their monitoring posts. The army begin to prepare Armed Forces Headquarters.

At 6pm, the Ministry of Agriculture announces that rationing of long-life food products would be introduced and that such items would not be available for sale from midnight. There is panic buying at those shops still open.


11 October

The Warsaw Pact announces that in response to the warlike actions of the imperialist NATO governments it would supply arms and advisers to any country or group that might look to it for protection. There are major troop movements in the Middle East, Africa and Asia as traditional enemies begin to reinforce their borders. There is a worldwide breakdown in diplomatic relations and the United Nations is paralysed by disagreement.

The Queen’s Order is signed calling up certain reserve and Territorial Army units. An umbrella organisation calling itself the Combined Peace Movement openly organises demonstrations against Government policy and military activities. MI5 leaks information about Russian support and financing of the CPM to the tabloid press, which responds as predicted.

The police report heavier than normal traffic on roads to the West Country and North Wales. Queues are becoming common at petrol stations as large amounts of fuel are diverted to military use and to official stockpiles.


12 October

US forces begin to pass through Britain in ever increasing numbers. Under emergency powers, protection areas are declared around all airfields and guarded by armed troops. In the evening demonstrators organised by the CPM break through the wire fence at RAF Greenham Common and threaten to attack a cruise missile convoy which is preparing to leave. US troops fire on the demonstrators causing several casualties.

During the day, banks and building societies report increasing withdrawals of cash. Ugly scenes develop as some branches run out of cash. Claimants demanding emergency payments to stock up with food inundate Department of Social Security offices74.

All Special Constables and Traffic Wardens are requested to report for full time duty. Police leave is cancelled and many forces adopt 12 hours shifts to increase available manpower.


13 October

A Russian destroyer shoots down a US reconnaissance aircraft in the Mediterranean. The US orders its forces worldwide to a higher state of alert. TV broadcasts show large scale troop movements throughout NATO countries but all western journalists are expelled from Warsaw Pact countries. Member countries of the two alliances break off diplomatic relations but behind the scenes attempts continue to diffuse the crisis.

Overseas travel facilities are thrown into increasing chaos. The requisitioning of aircraft for military use leaves many British citizens stranded abroad. Thousands of service families return from Germany adding to transport and accommodation problems, while many dependents of UK based US forces fly home. Heathrow and Gatwick airports are closed to civilian flights adding to the problems. Many ferries are requisitioned leaving lorry drivers stranded on both sides of the Channel. In Britain lorry and train drivers are increasingly reluctant to undertake long journeys.

The Government covertly requests manufacturers of food and medical supplies to increase production.

ROC controls and posts are ordered to 24 hour manning. Central government and local authority Scientific Advisers are asked to report to RGHQs and Emergency Centres.

The Ministry of Agriculture announces the requisition of all remaining bulk food stocks held by producers and wholesalers. The movement off-farm of all produce except perishable items is stopped and farm wardens are appointed. MAFF Regional Offices begin to organise additional Buffer Food Depots. Local authorities are told to start issuing ration documents.


14 October

Behind the scenes diplomatic activities continue but without any sign of compromise. Soviet aircraft buzz oil and gas installations in the North Sea. Many petrol stations have run out of petrol and there is increasing panic buying of unrationed food. There is a severe shortage of batteries for RADIAC equipment, torches and transistor radios.

Local authorities are ordered to take steps to implement Stage 3 measures. The third Emergency Powers Act is passed and the media briefed about plans for regional government in war. The Queen appoints Regional Commissioners but they do not take up their posts. The RGHQs and AFHQs are fully manned and Regional Emergency Committees (RECs) are set up. Prince Charles leaves London for an unannounced holiday in Scotland. Major art galleries and museums in London are closed and their Administrators told to evacuate a limited number of national art treasures. The media increasingly speculates that war is fast approaching.

The national siren system is tested and found to be far from effective. People are told to listen to Radio 4 for public announcements and information is released about the WTBS frequencies. Daily checks of the Emergency Communications Network are started.


15 November

The Warsaw Pact steps up its exercises with live firing in the North Sea, which it declares to be a “maritime danger area” informing NATO that its ships enter the area at their peril. CPM sponsored demonstrations are increasingly violent with numerous bombing and arson attacks. The police are hard pressed to control clashes between CPM supporters and growing nationalist groups.

The movement of people to the West Country, Wales and Scotland continues. The South West REC reports that 100000 people a day are arriving in the West Country. All available accommodation is full and police and local authorities are facing demands for food and shelter.

The rationing system is introduced. Local authorities are instructed to collect emergency feeding equipment, update their plans for emergency feeding and to train volunteers to man them.

Absenteeism grows as people decide to stay away from work, have left the area or are prevented from reaching work by transport difficulties. The Government repeats its message to “stay put” and for “business as usual” but the public is becoming increasingly alarmed.

In the face of growing media complaints about the lack of information on civil defence the Government steps up its information campaign. National papers are given Protect and Survive inserts covering basic civil defence measures and local authorities are asked to ensure that they have set up adequate information points. Local authorities are asked to step up civil defence training for as many volunteers as possible. The voluntary aid societies such as the Red Cross and WRVS are asked to assist.

Fire brigades are instructed to collect Green Goddess fire engines and other emergency stores and to take measures to increase their operational manpower. Military liaison officers are appointed to County Halls. The Surface Transport and Shipping Control Centre is activated and its Inland Transport Cell permanently manned.

The Government announces restrictions on the use of electricity for advertising and display lighting.


16 October

Localised, well-organised demonstrations continue, mainly directed against military facilities and personnel resulting in many pitched battles. CS gas and rubber bullets are used to disperse rioters.

The exodus of people from perceived danger areas around military bases and major cities continues. Accidents or vehicles that have run out of fuel are blocking many motorways and main roads to the West, Wales and Scotland. The refugees are causing intense strain on local resources. People living rough are causing health and public order problems. In some areas vigilante groups are being formed in response to the “invasion”. Local authorities are given powers to requisition warehouses and other large buildings to house refugees and some start emergency feeding centres drawing supplies from reserve stocks despite protests from MAFF.

All newspapers again carry Protect and Survive instructions. There is a run on building materials as people try to build shelters. RECs announce that key construction materials such as bricks and cement are to be placed under government control so that they can be used where there is greatest need.

Levels of absenteeism are averaging 25%. The Department of Trade reports its concerns about falling industrial production and considers the need to control industry under emergency powers. The RECs ask local authorities for information and suggestions. The Department of Employment announces it has taken power to control manpower to meet essential needs but has no practical way of enforcing its policies.

Pirate radio stations from Eastern Europe begin broadcasting Soviet propaganda.

The Government announces the closure of all schools and universities.

A British Airways Boeing 747 carrying families from Germany is shot down by a hand held missile as it approaches Luton Airport. The plane crashes onto the town centre. The resulting deaths, injuries, fires and damage overwhelm the emergency services.


17 October

MAFF implements its food dispersal plan for stocks held at ports. Hospitals are instructed to accelerate the discharge of patients and to restrict admissions. Most prisoners are released from gaols but many people considered potentially subversive are detained under the emergency powers. BT report the public telephone system is at breaking point and asks customers to limit their calls. The Government instructs BT to prepare to implement the Telephone Preference scheme. RADIAC instruments are issued to local authority and other workers designated to man monitoring positions.

Several gas distribution facilities are damaged by sabotage and it is announced that the public supply will be terminated from midnight causing alarm from those who cook and heat with gas. The public electricity supply is under increasing strain and rota cuts are started.


18 October

At dawn, Warsaw Pact ground forces attack West Germany, Denmark and Norway. There are widespread, small air attacks on the UK mainly against airfields. At mid-day the Prime Minister announces that a state of war exists.

There is a further surge of refugees. Over a million people have left London. Southern and Eastern ports see ever increasing numbers of small boats bringing refugees from the Continent, causing concerns about possible Warsaw Pact special forces units infiltrating the country under cover of them.

Local authority powers are vested in Emergency Committees and Controllers are appointed to all County and District authorities.

Local authorities open many first line Community Support Centres and public shelters. Attempts to set up Casualty Clearing Centres are hampered by the lack of basic first aid supplies and the absence of many National Health Service personnel serving with the reserve forces. In the areas directly affected by air raids, the emergency services are put under severe pressure.

The Telephone Preference Scheme is introduced cutting off some 90% of subscribers from the network. Further electricity cuts are introduced and main water supply reservoirs are valved off.


19 October

Air attacks on Britain continue and over 50 targets are attacked during the day. In some areas, the resulting fires and injuries overwhelm the emergency services. The cross-channel ferry Herald of Freedom, carrying US troops to France hits a mine off Dover and sinks with heavy loss of life. Large scale fighting is reported on all fronts in Europe but the situation is unclear. Normal life in the country comes to a halt.

There are unconfirmed TV reports that tactical nuclear weapons have been used in West Germany.


20 October

At 1am, Air Defence Operations Centre reports a large-scale missile launch from Soviet territory. Ten minutes later, a 150-kiloton hydrogen bomb detonates over RAF Scampton…

Surely the deterioration in East-West relations would have provided the first indications that things were going wrong?
 

Yokel

LE
From the same source:

Following the Strath Report the armed forces were given the role of assisting the civil defence services in the survival period. In the 1950s the forces, and the army in particular, was much larger than today in part due to national service and in wartime it would call on the extensive reserve and territorial forces. Some major army units were directly allocated to the Home Defence Regions but of particular significance to civil defence was the Mobile Defence Corps. This was formed in 1955 specifically for civil defence. It was to consist of 48 battalions each with a minimum of 600 personnel, which would come under direct Army or RAF command. The personnel would be trained in rescue, fire fighting and first aid during their active service with the Army or RAF. They would then have a duty to train with and if necessary serve in one of the battalions as part of their reserve obligations. In practice, most of the men came from units of the recently disbanded Anti-Aircraft Command. The end of national service meant that there would no longer be enough reservists for the Corps and it was disbanded in 1959.

As national service came to an end and the armed forces were generally reduced in size in the 1960s there were fewer and fewer troops available generally for home or civil defence duties. Following the 1965 Home Defence Review an attempt was made to recruit 28000 volunteers to form the Home Defence Force (usually known as TAVR lll) who were specifically intended for law and order duties post-nuclear attack. As with other such organisations the units were rarely at full strength or properly equipped.68 They were unpopular with the civil servants who oversaw the civil defence budgets who believed, that like the Civil Defence Corps, they would be of no real value but they were popular with what might be called “the retired colonels” lobby. However, after a considerable debate, which paralleled that which finally saw the end of the Corps the TAVR lll was scrapped in 1969.

At this time, the UK Commanders in Chief Committee (Home) was responsible for the military aspects of home defence. It consisted of the Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, the Air Commander Home Defence Forces and the Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces who acted as Chairman. During a period of tension, this committee would oversee such matters as mobilisation and the protection of the UK home base. As the crisis escalated, they would disperse to their individual wartime headquarters keeping in contact via the CONRAD radio net. Their operational orders then told them that, after a nuclear attack, “if you survive”, they, together with their staffs should report to the Chief of the Defence Staff of the surviving “central government authority

The continued run down of the armed forces manpower meant there would be few troops available for home defence duties both before and after an attack. In 1970 the Chiefs of Staff had estimated that there would be some 30000 military personnel available post-strike against a potential requirement of 196000 and in 1974 it was publicly admitted69 that the forces would have little manpower or equipment for purely civil defence work. The military planners in particular expected a massive need for armed troops to support the police in maintaining law and order but army manuals and College briefings showed that the role of the armed forces would extend beyond this to include

  1. Assistance in the preservation of law and order, invariably in support of the police.
  2. Guarding key points.
  3. Providing regional communications
  4. Explosive ordnance disposal
  5. Advising the civil authorities
  6. Other assistance to the civil authorities which could include -
    • Restoration of essential services
    • Route clearance and control
    • Control of public movement
    • Reconnaissance and radiac survey
The Ministry of Defence War Book in the mid-1960s also assigned four battalions for “special Government War Book measures -

  1. Special duties towards the Royal Family.
  2. Special duties for central government
  3. Security of gold reserves and art treasures.
  4. Aid to HM Customs and the police in seizing enemy ships and aircraft.”
In the early 1960s, the RAF expected to form regional air squadrons each with 24 RAF training and transport aircraft for reconnaissance and communications in the region. It also planned to set up a Central Government Squadron with 16 aircraft for national communications. By the 1980s, it was still expected that regional squadrons would be formed but these would be on an ad hoc basis and would now use civilian aircraft.

From the 1970s some Territorial Army units were designated for “home defence” and some “composite companies” would have been formed from military personnel in administration, training and other units who did not have a designated war role. A 1984 briefing from the College suggests that there would be 110000 members of the armed forces in the UK at the time of an attack but this seems a very high figure. Other documents suggest that it was planned to have a contingency reserve in each region of “at least one battalion of 400 men” or that there would be up to two battalions assigned to each region, although these would also have to guard key points.

The Strath Report resulted in the need for military and civilian forces to work more closely together in the survival period and this was one of the key elements in the joint civil-military headquarters plan in the mid-1950s. The Home Defence regions and the army districts would have the same boundaries and the Regional Military Commander would be located with his wartime District HQ in the civil-military headquarters and later the RSG. When the RSG was scrapped as an operating control for the survival period the concept of the Armed Forces Headquarters or AFHQ was developed although military teams continued to be allocated to the SRCs and their successors. The armed forces would however still be organised on a regional basis and commanded by the Regional Military Commander who would be on the staff of the Regional Commissioner. In the 1970s and 1980s some protected AFHQs were developed for example at the barracks in York and in a small complex of tunnels near Henley on Thames. In addition to the teams at regional headquarters, there would be small military attachments at county controls and each county would be designated as a “tactical area of responsibility”. The first task of the armed forces post-strike would be to continue to defend the United Kingdom. Thereafter, any surviving forces would be available to assist with rescue and survival operations, but generally in exercises, the role of the armed forces was, from the 1970s very limited.

Under the 1980s plans large numbers of troops would be involved in guarding “key points”. These were places considered vital to the continued effectiveness of the fighting services or for survival post-strike. They included places such as military sites, key communications centres and major road bridges. Some exercises envisaged the armed forces guarding food stocks in the survival period but many places, which might merit guarding, would not be due to shortages of personnel. As well as some designated Territorial Army units an attempt was made in 1982 to boost the numbers of soldiers available for home defence duties, particularly guarding key points with the establishment of the Home Service Force. This was made up of lightly armed former members of the armed forces. The intention was that the force would be 5000 strong by 1990 but in 1986 it had only 3133 members. It was disbanded in 1993.

In exercises, local authority emergency centres were often targeted by protest or other disaffected groups both pre- and post-strike but there were no military guards available to help and frequently no police. Suggestions were made that the local authority staffs should organise their own protection. Similar suggestions were made for areas such as food stores and emergency feeding centres. Some locally based plans included forming vigilante groups to protect the locals from disorderly elements both from within and without.

The military radio network called CONRAD continued to be used into the 1980s. CONRAD was controlled by 2 (National Communications) Signal Brigade and its predecessors whose operational units were then and still are largely Territorial Army ones. The Brigade is still tasked with providing communications support to the machinery of government in war based on the National Communications Radio System, a nationwide radio network that appears to have replaced CONRAD. It is also notable that the 1980s saw a large increase in military communications systems for home defence purposes some of which are known to be mobile using satellite links.
 

LD17

MIA
The Ministry of Defence War Book in the mid-1960s also assigned four battalions for “special Government War Book measures -

  1. Special duties towards the Royal Family.
  2. Special duties for central government
  3. Security of gold reserves and art treasures.
  4. Aid to HM Customs and the police in seizing enemy ships and aircraft.”

    Those were the tasks of the Guards Bns who were on PDs in/around London.
 
It might have been on the thread about defence planning in the eighties, or on this thread, that I asked about likely warning periods.

This is from the Struggle for Survival page by Subterranea Britannica:

9 October

Following the seizure of power last month in the Soviet Union by an extreme nationalistic group relations between the Soviet Block and the West continue to worsen. There are indications that Warsaw Pact forces are preparing for full mobilisation and the Soviet Union has demanded the demilitarisation of West Germany. In Britain, Government attempts to play down the situation have been largely unsuccessful. There is growing concern in the media and organised demonstrations by peace groups become a daily occurrence. Public concern is reflected in a run on long-life food. The Government orders all departments to 24 hour manning. Local authorities are instructed to make limited preparatory actions to implement their war plans under Stage 2 including 24 hour manning of Main Emergency Centres. Several Nuclear Free Zone aligned councils refuse causing the tabloid press to call for a firm response from and support for the Government.

10 October

The Prime Minister announces that as a precaution the reinforcement of Europe by NATO forces would be increased. The first two Emergency Powers Acts are passed through Parliament in 36 hours and under pre-prepared Regulations the Government takes extra powers to requisition transport and equipment to help military preparations and in particular the movement of US forces through Britain. In the evening, the first squadron of F-111 bombers arrives at RAF Thurleigh from the United States.

The Home Office instructs local authorities to collect RADIAC equipment from stores and begin crash training in its use. They are also told to begin training the many people volunteering for civil defence duties.

The Property Service Agency is ordered to prepare the Regional Government Headquarters. Senior staff are designated and told to prepare to take up their posts.

The BBC is instructed to bring the Wartime Broadcasting Service to readiness. Staff are dispatched to the emergency facility at Wood Norton near Evesham and the emergency cell in Broadcasting House is manned and its facilities to receive and broadcast attack warnings checked. Transmitter sites earmarked for WTBS use are stocked with fuel and food.

UKWMO is put on a war alert and Royal Observer Corps members warned to be prepared to man their monitoring posts. The army begin to prepare Armed Forces Headquarters.

At 6pm, the Ministry of Agriculture announces that rationing of long-life food products would be introduced and that such items would not be available for sale from midnight. There is panic buying at those shops still open.


11 October

The Warsaw Pact announces that in response to the warlike actions of the imperialist NATO governments it would supply arms and advisers to any country or group that might look to it for protection. There are major troop movements in the Middle East, Africa and Asia as traditional enemies begin to reinforce their borders. There is a worldwide breakdown in diplomatic relations and the United Nations is paralysed by disagreement.

The Queen’s Order is signed calling up certain reserve and Territorial Army units. An umbrella organisation calling itself the Combined Peace Movement openly organises demonstrations against Government policy and military activities. MI5 leaks information about Russian support and financing of the CPM to the tabloid press, which responds as predicted.

The police report heavier than normal traffic on roads to the West Country and North Wales. Queues are becoming common at petrol stations as large amounts of fuel are diverted to military use and to official stockpiles.


12 October

US forces begin to pass through Britain in ever increasing numbers. Under emergency powers, protection areas are declared around all airfields and guarded by armed troops. In the evening demonstrators organised by the CPM break through the wire fence at RAF Greenham Common and threaten to attack a cruise missile convoy which is preparing to leave. US troops fire on the demonstrators causing several casualties.

During the day, banks and building societies report increasing withdrawals of cash. Ugly scenes develop as some branches run out of cash. Claimants demanding emergency payments to stock up with food inundate Department of Social Security offices74.

All Special Constables and Traffic Wardens are requested to report for full time duty. Police leave is cancelled and many forces adopt 12 hours shifts to increase available manpower.


13 October

A Russian destroyer shoots down a US reconnaissance aircraft in the Mediterranean. The US orders its forces worldwide to a higher state of alert. TV broadcasts show large scale troop movements throughout NATO countries but all western journalists are expelled from Warsaw Pact countries. Member countries of the two alliances break off diplomatic relations but behind the scenes attempts continue to diffuse the crisis.

Overseas travel facilities are thrown into increasing chaos. The requisitioning of aircraft for military use leaves many British citizens stranded abroad. Thousands of service families return from Germany adding to transport and accommodation problems, while many dependents of UK based US forces fly home. Heathrow and Gatwick airports are closed to civilian flights adding to the problems. Many ferries are requisitioned leaving lorry drivers stranded on both sides of the Channel. In Britain lorry and train drivers are increasingly reluctant to undertake long journeys.

The Government covertly requests manufacturers of food and medical supplies to increase production.

ROC controls and posts are ordered to 24 hour manning. Central government and local authority Scientific Advisers are asked to report to RGHQs and Emergency Centres.

The Ministry of Agriculture announces the requisition of all remaining bulk food stocks held by producers and wholesalers. The movement off-farm of all produce except perishable items is stopped and farm wardens are appointed. MAFF Regional Offices begin to organise additional Buffer Food Depots. Local authorities are told to start issuing ration documents.


14 October

Behind the scenes diplomatic activities continue but without any sign of compromise. Soviet aircraft buzz oil and gas installations in the North Sea. Many petrol stations have run out of petrol and there is increasing panic buying of unrationed food. There is a severe shortage of batteries for RADIAC equipment, torches and transistor radios.

Local authorities are ordered to take steps to implement Stage 3 measures. The third Emergency Powers Act is passed and the media briefed about plans for regional government in war. The Queen appoints Regional Commissioners but they do not take up their posts. The RGHQs and AFHQs are fully manned and Regional Emergency Committees (RECs) are set up. Prince Charles leaves London for an unannounced holiday in Scotland. Major art galleries and museums in London are closed and their Administrators told to evacuate a limited number of national art treasures. The media increasingly speculates that war is fast approaching.

The national siren system is tested and found to be far from effective. People are told to listen to Radio 4 for public announcements and information is released about the WTBS frequencies. Daily checks of the Emergency Communications Network are started.


15 November

The Warsaw Pact steps up its exercises with live firing in the North Sea, which it declares to be a “maritime danger area” informing NATO that its ships enter the area at their peril. CPM sponsored demonstrations are increasingly violent with numerous bombing and arson attacks. The police are hard pressed to control clashes between CPM supporters and growing nationalist groups.

The movement of people to the West Country, Wales and Scotland continues. The South West REC reports that 100000 people a day are arriving in the West Country. All available accommodation is full and police and local authorities are facing demands for food and shelter.

The rationing system is introduced. Local authorities are instructed to collect emergency feeding equipment, update their plans for emergency feeding and to train volunteers to man them.

Absenteeism grows as people decide to stay away from work, have left the area or are prevented from reaching work by transport difficulties. The Government repeats its message to “stay put” and for “business as usual” but the public is becoming increasingly alarmed.

In the face of growing media complaints about the lack of information on civil defence the Government steps up its information campaign. National papers are given Protect and Survive inserts covering basic civil defence measures and local authorities are asked to ensure that they have set up adequate information points. Local authorities are asked to step up civil defence training for as many volunteers as possible. The voluntary aid societies such as the Red Cross and WRVS are asked to assist.

Fire brigades are instructed to collect Green Goddess fire engines and other emergency stores and to take measures to increase their operational manpower. Military liaison officers are appointed to County Halls. The Surface Transport and Shipping Control Centre is activated and its Inland Transport Cell permanently manned.

The Government announces restrictions on the use of electricity for advertising and display lighting.


16 October

Localised, well-organised demonstrations continue, mainly directed against military facilities and personnel resulting in many pitched battles. CS gas and rubber bullets are used to disperse rioters.

The exodus of people from perceived danger areas around military bases and major cities continues. Accidents or vehicles that have run out of fuel are blocking many motorways and main roads to the West, Wales and Scotland. The refugees are causing intense strain on local resources. People living rough are causing health and public order problems. In some areas vigilante groups are being formed in response to the “invasion”. Local authorities are given powers to requisition warehouses and other large buildings to house refugees and some start emergency feeding centres drawing supplies from reserve stocks despite protests from MAFF.

All newspapers again carry Protect and Survive instructions. There is a run on building materials as people try to build shelters. RECs announce that key construction materials such as bricks and cement are to be placed under government control so that they can be used where there is greatest need.

Levels of absenteeism are averaging 25%. The Department of Trade reports its concerns about falling industrial production and considers the need to control industry under emergency powers. The RECs ask local authorities for information and suggestions. The Department of Employment announces it has taken power to control manpower to meet essential needs but has no practical way of enforcing its policies.

Pirate radio stations from Eastern Europe begin broadcasting Soviet propaganda.

The Government announces the closure of all schools and universities.

A British Airways Boeing 747 carrying families from Germany is shot down by a hand held missile as it approaches Luton Airport. The plane crashes onto the town centre. The resulting deaths, injuries, fires and damage overwhelm the emergency services.


17 October

MAFF implements its food dispersal plan for stocks held at ports. Hospitals are instructed to accelerate the discharge of patients and to restrict admissions. Most prisoners are released from gaols but many people considered potentially subversive are detained under the emergency powers. BT report the public telephone system is at breaking point and asks customers to limit their calls. The Government instructs BT to prepare to implement the Telephone Preference scheme. RADIAC instruments are issued to local authority and other workers designated to man monitoring positions.

Several gas distribution facilities are damaged by sabotage and it is announced that the public supply will be terminated from midnight causing alarm from those who cook and heat with gas. The public electricity supply is under increasing strain and rota cuts are started.


18 October

At dawn, Warsaw Pact ground forces attack West Germany, Denmark and Norway. There are widespread, small air attacks on the UK mainly against airfields. At mid-day the Prime Minister announces that a state of war exists.

There is a further surge of refugees. Over a million people have left London. Southern and Eastern ports see ever increasing numbers of small boats bringing refugees from the Continent, causing concerns about possible Warsaw Pact special forces units infiltrating the country under cover of them.

Local authority powers are vested in Emergency Committees and Controllers are appointed to all County and District authorities.

Local authorities open many first line Community Support Centres and public shelters. Attempts to set up Casualty Clearing Centres are hampered by the lack of basic first aid supplies and the absence of many National Health Service personnel serving with the reserve forces. In the areas directly affected by air raids, the emergency services are put under severe pressure.

The Telephone Preference Scheme is introduced cutting off some 90% of subscribers from the network. Further electricity cuts are introduced and main water supply reservoirs are valved off.


19 October

Air attacks on Britain continue and over 50 targets are attacked during the day. In some areas, the resulting fires and injuries overwhelm the emergency services. The cross-channel ferry Herald of Freedom, carrying US troops to France hits a mine off Dover and sinks with heavy loss of life. Large scale fighting is reported on all fronts in Europe but the situation is unclear. Normal life in the country comes to a halt.

There are unconfirmed TV reports that tactical nuclear weapons have been used in West Germany.


20 October

At 1am, Air Defence Operations Centre reports a large-scale missile launch from Soviet territory. Ten minutes later, a 150-kiloton hydrogen bomb detonates over RAF Scampton…

Surely the deterioration in East-West relations would have provided the first indications that things were going wrong?
Point of interest - current again?

see ever increasing numbers of small boats bringing refugees from the Continent, causing concerns about possible Warsaw Pact special forces units infiltrating the country under cover of them.
 

Yokel

LE
The Ministry of Defence War Book in the mid-1960s also assigned four battalions for “special Government War Book measures -

  1. Special duties towards the Royal Family.
  2. Special duties for central government
  3. Security of gold reserves and art treasures.
  4. Aid to HM Customs and the police in seizing enemy ships and aircraft.”

    Those were the tasks of the Guards Bns who were on PDs in/around London.

The first three yes - but seizing ships and aircraft? Aircraft on the ground or ships in port maybe, be what about vessels at sea?

Back to Sir Humphrey's article (above):

In terms of getting afloat, the Royal Navy would have provided two ships for the task – it is believed that the Royal Yacht Britannia, and the RFA ENGADINE were to be assigned to host a PYTHON group, sailing to locations as yet unclear.

In all likelihood these ships would have sheltered somewhere on the West Coast of Scotland, in the many sea lochs that would provide good shelter and cover, and remain very discrete. Loch Torridon is often suggested as a likely refuge for this group – which makes sense as it also has a fine stately home (now a hotel) that could provide VIP accommodation if required.

More widely at least three Caledonian MacBrayne ferries were built with a variety of discrete fixtures including an NBCD citadel and a variety of other modifications to enable them to become floating outposts of Government. It seems extremely likely that in the event of war, a not insignificant part of the British Government would have found itself afloat on Royal Navy or chartered shipping trying to work out what to do next.
 

Yokel

LE
I have found what I was looking for - as I said I am guessing diplomats, intelligence types, and the senior bods would have ben looking for signs of trouble ahead.

To provide some suggestion of the reaction to an approaching crisis, a memorandum is to be found in the MoD War Book collection of the National Archives. The memo was from Rear Admiral Reffell, and begins, “In view of the international tension resulting from the crises in Iran and Afghanistan, I believe that the MoD(N) [Navy] Transition to War arrangements should be reviewed and, if appropriate, alerted.” In this circumstance, war plans were to be checked, and preparations made, discreetly, for Transition to War measures. No authorities outside the MoD(N) were to be involved, and if the situation did not become a crisis, it would be good preparation for Exercise HILEX80.

From
British Defence Planning and Britain's NATO Commitment, 1979 - 1985

Page 149
 
Interesting pic although I am unsure of the year or which newspaper it came from.

Clapham.jpg
 
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