The Royal Observer Corps - Cold War films

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by ROCpostman, Oct 4, 2007.

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  1. Bit of a blast from the past and what if films of the 1980's ( remember the 4 minute warning and DEFCON 2 ) well heres some great footage of the Royal Observer Corps and the recruitment film - Forewarned is forearmed.

    Just to set the scene - imagine yourself back in the 1980's - your sitting comfortably at home in England watching tv - when suddenly:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1GqzosWoVc&mode=related&search=

    The east - west Cold war tension between the NATO and the Warsaw Pact turns hot - the balloon goes up, diplomacy has failed and the United States moves to DEFCON 2 with Soviet rocket troops poised in their ICBM silos in the Soviet Union - our brave boys and girls of the Royal Observer Corps will be having their final briefing at the village pub ( the local Rose & Crown ) before bidding final farewells to loved ones and departing to their underground ROC Posts ( 3 man bunkers ) in some lonely windswept field somewhere in England.

    The survival film - Sound an alarm - shown in six parts:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsCJMYgFNuU&mode=related&search=

    The Royal Observer Corps in action -

    Forewarned is forearmed - part one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJpJgQpE1H4

    Forewarned is forearmed - part two:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O9dxx7RBP0

    It all looks so very unreal now - but its a sobering thought to think what might have happened in the timewarp world of the parallel universe of the 1980's.
     
  2. Looking back it's hard to believe that we actually went about our lives relatively normally. I remember watching the BBC drama Threads and it scaring the shite out of me. Linky for those too young.
     
  3. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    That put shivers down my spine remembering that. Thanks!
     
  4. Always had an interest in the ROC.

    We should bring CD back, could help in floods and all the rest of the stuff we have now.
     
  5. You mean this one Carrots? youtube
     
  6. Nice fake/spoof. Interesting use of contempary graphics over archive adverts. I don't think the S tones from the WB1400 carrier system would be broadcast on a live TV alert somehow.

    There were TV warnings, but this definately isn't one of them.
     
  7. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)



    So which part of that did you not read?
     
  8. Went in a very rural three-man bunker only the other week (looking for a missing kid from nearby). Only reason was because, in 1979, one of my Plod jobs was to make sure all the locks were sound, and test the tone carrier at the nick along with the sirens weekly. It was never common knowledge where all the Observation Posts were, even then. Amazed that I found it again, first time, after all those years.

    Took some young coppers this time, partly because they never believed the ROC stuff when I told it, the stuff of fantasies to them.

    As a youngster, it was the era we were living through and we knew no different, Protect & Survive, etc. Nowadays, well, when I came out I had to sit and have a quiet think.

    Y'see, the ROC's families houses were undoubtedly within their arcs, and there were only twelve bunks in the nearest Regional Centre of Government ................ population about 250,000.

    The ROC really did have a sense of duty.
     
  9. My missus (being a nuclear physicist) was a county finger-in-the-air bunker-officer when-it-goes-boom pre 1990. She remembers a training course where she asked the Emperors clothes question - Who goes out to fetch the samples afterwards?....
     
  10. This is the factor that finally dissuaded me from joining the ROC in the early 80s. All the recruiting material showed people who were either very young (17-22, say) or middle-aged. I was 30 or so, with a wife and young son. I didn't feel I could leave them to take their chances while I sat in a bunker - I assume the younger/older types might have had their own reasons for feeling less attached to their families.
     
  11. Papa Gravelbelly came out after 22 and joined the ROC as permanent staff; so I'd have been one of those families... but then, who believed that BAOR families would all have been evacuated by the time the "transition to war" phase finished?

    (Mildly amusing was seeing him disappear off to Cranwell on a PQO course, having finished said 22 as a WO2.... he ended up on a course with the busload of nurses, lucky sod, but because of the weird way the ROC was set up, got "course attended" rather than an RAF commission)

    The theory for the ROC posts was (IIRC) that there would be three shifts per post, one inside at a time. The two shifts who were left outside would have looked out for the families of the the shift inside.

    You can find a fairly comprehensive database of ROC posts at the Subterranea Britannica website.
     
  12. Hmmm, don't recall that mutual support thing being mentioned. Perhaps, like Papa Gravelbelly, it would have helped to have a Service background, with (I suppose) a grounding in having sufficient trust in your mates to contemplate leaving your family in their care. When it comes down to it, my life hasn't encouraged that approach in me. Must be a civvy thing, I suppose.
     
  13. Excellent link. I found Papa CLCs post. He still has a shilouette book in the house (he left before the Nuclear Era got going so to speak). I must quiz him about what he thought about it.

    I vividly rememember the ROC wreath party standing near my Boys Brigade party on remebrance parade. Particularly memorable as the senior observer chap was the father of school friend.
     
  14. Indeed it is wierd to look back and realise just how close to the brink things could get. 1983 was the year apparently according to this 2004 news article, Armageddon

    Who knows but I guess if the current set of leaders were in place back 25 years ago I think we would all be living in caves...

    Still a shocker to consider how things have changed, but as always the younger generatiosn do not see the relevance.