Did any Old & Bold Serve during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

#1
I've been doing a bit of reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was before my time, but I'm wondering if any of the Old & Bold were serving when it happened. If anybody has any good stories, anecdotes or links I'd be interested to hear them.

I'm curious how close we actually came to going to war and what active preparations (if any) were made. Most people I've spoken to said they were sat in Germany shitting bricks and frantically reading up on tactical nukes.
 
#2
I worked with a fella who was in the RAF during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was in the ground crew on Vulcans. He told me that during the crisis the V Force were deployed to dispersal airfields, fully bombed up with nukes and with engines turning ready to go at the end of the runway. He said that in normal times there would always be bombed up Vulcans ready to go on the main airfileds but they were held on a apon and to release the aircraft they had to go through a two or three stage authentication and authorisation process before the aircraft would be allowed to take off. During the crisis the authentication and authorisation process had already occured and all it would have taken is the order from strike command and they would have been released.
 
#3
Wasn't actually serving at the time but remember it well. I was in my last year of primary school and all the kids went round shaking hands with everyone else and the teachers saying goodbye as we didn't expect to be coming to school the next day. Frightening times indeed.
 
#4
An old boy at my rifle club was in the RAF at the time and was a liney on Vulcans at Scampton or maybe Waddington (but maybe another dispered airfield)

On the morning of what became known as Black Saturday, a QRA or scramble was initiated and all of the bombers roared off to their positive control points somewhere above the arctic circle. This was to prevent the force being caught on the ground. This meant that if you were on said ground, you might very soon be vapourised.

They were stood there watching the smokey vapour trails waft away, and the reeking smell of avpin invading their nostrils, wondering if any of those bombers would make it to their targets, let alone return to the UK. They were then gathered together by the engineering officer who asked who had families on or near the base, and most replied yes. He then told them to go and be with them now, and suggested that if they wish to leave, pack a car, take food and water and warn clothes and head west to Wales and the valleys. Some replied that they didn't have cars. No problem said the EO. 'Take them from the pan or MT. We won't be needing them anymore.'

So he did that, and found a guest house in Wales and sat glued to the radio and the communal TV listening out for any warnings or developments. When Krushchev blinked the following day, he packed the car again and returned to his base for Monday morning, and things were (nearly) back to normal.
 
#5
I was in Hohne at the time,we were vaguely aware events were ramping up,but there was no change to daily routine,(at our end ,on tank park,that is.) No doubt there was a lot of scurrying around higher up the chain of command,seem to remember lads on leave in UK had to come back to units.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#6
I was on a course at Whale Island, Portsmouth and watched it all unfold from an armchair in the wardroom TV room. I'm not aware that there was any official naval activity in connection with the crisis (Polaris was not yet in play). Summer of '63 we went up to Lossie for the Air Weapons part of the course and for the first two weeks the haar (sea mist) ruled and the clapped-out Vampires we were going to be flown around in were grounded. There was a Vulcan on dispersal so a visit was laid on, five at a time. The RAF WO giving us the tour turned to the man in the next seat to me. "What are those little dogs on your shoulder straps?" "They are not dogs, they are lions, Ah am a Sarth Efrican". We were all kicked out onto the tarmac toute de suite. So we had to go back to the Weapon Assessment nissen hut and continue making small talk to the Wrens. Gosh it was a hard life.
 

Grownup_Rafbrat

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
Father was stationed at RAF Feltwell, home of Thor rockets, at the time. My mother tells a tale that he went to work one day as the crisis was building up and didn't come home until three weeks later when it was all over. More than mildly concerning for a lady with children aged one and three!

(He may, of course, have been on a serious drinking session, but I suspect he was doing more serious stuff).
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
I should have added that I suppose it's possible that one or more of Ark, Eagle (but think she was in refit), Vic, Hermes or Centaur were sent chug chug chug to the North Norwegian Sea to a suitable launch point for the Scimitars and Sea Vixens (Buc was not then in service) but that needs input from someone who was actually involved.
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#9
Errmm, I wasn't actually serving in the armed forces, but rather was in Merchant Navy at the time. More to the point, I was in Cuba. And, in jail. I was the only non-latino in La Cabana, a prison in Havana, and enjoyed certain privileges because of that ( and my tender age -16) I saw the drama begin to unfold on state tv in the prison guard room, where I was allowed to clean and make coffee for the guards. It was quite terrifying, and the guards - being all army - were very gung-ho. Luckily the consulate managed to get me out and deported to Jamaica. Not that that was a great comfort either, despite having a luxurios lifestyle there. Bit too close to Cuba for comfort.

Having said that, the Cubanos I met were absolutely brilliant people. Warm and friendly and generous to a fault.
 
#10
My father and his brother were in the Norwegian merchant navy during the missile crisis and my fathers brother was doing the transatlantic run, when my dad spoke to him he asked what is was like ( they were stopped and redirected by USN) he said he wasn't worried and the pay rocketed due the unions negotiating or the company paying more for the perceived threats to the ships and crews.
Sorry not the most exciting story but both my father and uncle said it was exciting on the ships at the time, I think people really believe it might escalate to war.
 
#11
I've been doing a bit of reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was before my time, but I'm wondering if any of the Old & Bold were serving when it happened. If anybody has any good stories, anecdotes or links I'd be interested to hear them.

I'm curious how close we actually came to going to war and what active preparations (if any) were made. Most people I've spoken to said they were sat in Germany shitting bricks and frantically reading up on tactical nukes.
An Uncle was sitting in Key West aboard a USN Tugboat with his BAR and 25x 20 round magazines of live ammo (his assistant had another 24 BAR magazines and a carbine). Considering he was an Army PFC must have been a bit strange for him. Apparently if it all went pear shaped there were to help escort a landing flotilla, then make they were to wade ashore and rally up to the unit for the push inland.
 
#12
I worked with a fella who was in the RAF during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was in the ground crew on Vulcans. He told me that during the crisis the V Force were deployed to dispersal airfields, fully bombed up with nukes and with engines turning ready to go at the end of the runway. He said that in normal times there would always be bombed up Vulcans ready to go on the main airfileds but they were held on a apon and to release the aircraft they had to go through a two or three stage authentication and authorisation process before the aircraft would be allowed to take off. During the crisis the authentication and authorisation process had already occured and all it would have taken is the order from strike command and they would have been released.

Uncle was on the Vulcans at that time.

A couple of things he mentioned

Once launched the V Force crews knew they weren't coming back.
Either they would be shot down or drop the bomb and run out of fuel trying to get back.
Either way they knew there was no airfield or family to return to after the counter strikes.
They knew exactly what the bomb could do having spent time on Christmas Island and observing the tests.
 
#13
In October 1962 I was a lad of 11 still in elementary school. We lived in Ohio near a major air force base which we knew had been targeted by the Soviets. Had we gone to war we knew that it would be unlikely we would be hit by missiles from Cuba, but it was a distinct possibility that we would be reduced to blackened cinders by ICBMs from Russia coming up over the North Pole. Not a happy time and I had nightmares for a while even after it settled down.
 
#14
I was 8 year old and remember all the grown up's were really afraid so I thought I better had be as well.

I was rather disappointed to later find out that it would never have happened if the Americans had not sited missiles in Turkey. With friends like that........
 

Mr_Fingerz

LE
Book Reviewer
#15
The Auld Fella did. He's dead now.
 
#16
I was 10 and a brat at the RN primary school in Malta G.C.
My memories - which at this distance are likely to be faulty - are of, one morning, getting on the school bus, where there was much talk of Dads being crashed out overnight.
We drove past Sliema Creek - normally home to the frigates, mine hunters and minesweepers - empty. Not a grey war canoe in sight .
On past Ta'Xbiex (subs and depot ship) - empty.
At the western (Marsa) end of Grand Harbour (LCTs, LSLs, tugs and smaller RFAs) - empty.
Past Corradino Arsenal (widely reputed to store buckets of instant sunshine - feverish activity .
The dockyards were next, and they, too were empty. Even the floating dockyard had gone.
We could also see the destroyers and flagship (cruiser) were conspicuous by their absence.
Friends who lived on the south of the island, said the flat tops and larger RFAs were no longer there, and the aircraft from Hal Far had embarked.
The Mediterranean Fleet had comprehensively weighed and proceeded.
Many years later I asked a couple of our teachers at the time, what the staff-room view had been.
Their memories were of the Head (Cdr RN) saying let's just carry on as normal. If these are our last days, at least the kids should be allowed to keep smiling. A very pragmatic view, in my opinion .
One other thing. I had been a chorister at the RN church for a couple of years, and was used to the traditional singing of the 'Sailors' Hymn' at the end of each service - predominantly sung in the tenor/bass range (Divine Service was a parade).
However, that weekend, the hymn was sung in the soprano, treble, alto range as the church was full of concerned wives, mothers and their offspring.
 
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#17
I don't remember it as I was merely a nipper. My Mum told me about it some years later as my Dad was a cop in the Coventry and Warwickshire Police. He finished his shift and was told to go home, not to return and just listen to the radio (national radio, they didn't have hand held ones in those days) as he would know what to do. Apparently he sat downstairs, in his uniform, nursing a bottle of whisky the whole night, waiting for the World too end. When it didn't he had to go to work nursing a murderous hangover only to find everyone on his shift was in the same state.
 
#18
Being born in 1969 I sort of missed it. However, since my job was to run up and down a ladder in the event of as nuclear attack I was quite surprised to find when I joined it that the ROC had never seen active duty since the end of WWII, and specifically had not been called out during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Since our whole purpose was to act in the warning and monitoring role during a nuclear war you have to wonder if it was as bad as people thought? Or whether it erupted far too quickly, but without the expected tension in West Germany, for the powers that be to remember that we existed.
 
#19
Being born in 1969 I sort of missed it. However, since my job was to run up and down a ladder in the event of as nuclear attack I was quite surprised to find when I joined it that the ROC had never seen active duty since the end of WWII, and specifically had not been called out during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Since our whole purpose was to act in the warning and monitoring role during a nuclear war you have to wonder if it was as bad as people thought? Or whether it erupted far too quickly, but without the expected tension in West Germany, for the powers that be to remember that we existed.
Ah, you can help me out here. Do you remember what those big brick type things were called that sat in all Guard Rooms, all police stations and would allegedly be the very first purveyors of doom in the event of a Nuclear Attack. Some form of telephonic warning system. I'm sure they 'beeped' occasionally as well but may be mistaken.
 
#20
Ah, you can help me out here. Do you remember what those big brick type things were called that sat in all Guard Rooms, all police stations and would allegedly be the very first purveyors of doom in the event of a Nuclear Attack. Some form of telephonic warning system. I'm sure they 'beeped' occasionally as well but may be mistaken.
WB600's?:
WB400 and WB600
 

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