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The Royal Observer Corps - Cold War films

I can believe that, going by some of the anti-nuclear people that I spoke to back in the 80s. They didn´t have a clue, and wouldn´t even try to listen to an alternative viewpoint.

They would have seen an ROC post as part of the fascist military establishment. The fact that it had something to do with radiation monitoring would have enraged them even more.
I only heard of CND activity at Coventry Group HQ. Durham HQ was in the city centre, beside the river and next to the ice rink, and had a high chain link fence and to the best of my knowledge wasn't targeted.

Coventry Group HQ on the other hand was actually at Lawford Heath near Rugby, and was on a quite large and open site - we even had a Hawker Hunter as a gate guard. The only attack that I'm aware of involved some CND types entering the site (breaking in would be an exaggeration) and painting "ROC MEANS DEATH" on the road. Bless.

I was informed that Durham Group had had some CND members join up who had been passing on details of exercises to their friends. However what happened to our Kim Philby walts, I have no idea. Anyway, nothing that we did was really secret. We put on a display for the general public at Durham Castle, including lots of documents marked "Restricted" in 1989 or 1990. I think that the only people who turned up were members of the Corps.
 

Stan_Deesey

Swinger
We used the post comms, so a couple of us up top with binoculars, shouting down to grumpy sod (because he wanted to be upstairs) on the teletalk.

The financial drawback was that if the MoD wanted us to do more stuff, the Home Office would have wanted to renegotiate the funding split.

RAF Regt lost the Rapiers to the Army several years ago, anyway!

(Sorry for the delay in replying, been busy...)

Hi Tocsin, no problems mate. Thanks for the reply.

Re. the grumpy old sod: one reason why I didn´t join the ROC as a teenager was because I imagined I would be stuck in the post with a couple of grumpy old sods who would be giving me all the gash jobs while they told ´war stories´, or discussed the differences between a Fiat G91 and an Alpha Jet. I thought it would be a right load of J. Arthur :)
 
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Did nobody consider fitting the post with a periscope with a 360° horizontal/90° vertical lens to record the flash, thus obviating any need to go outside to retrieve the detector paper?
 

tocsin

Old-Salt
Did nobody consider fitting the post with a periscope with a 360° horizontal/90° vertical lens to record the flash, thus obviating any need to go outside to retrieve the detector paper?

Most of the kit was 1950's vintage, and regarded as fairly Observer-proof. The internal radiac meters were massively improved, along with the comms, in the '80s - but the GZI definitely remained Mk.1 Mod.0 :)

I guess the periscope idea could fail on the size of aperture required to get a readable bearing and elevation downstairs. Each GZI paper (c.90 degree cover) was about a foot square. Good lateral thinking, though!
 

Stan_Deesey

Swinger
Did nobody consider fitting the post with a periscope with a 360° horizontal/90° vertical lens to record the flash, thus obviating any need to go outside to retrieve the detector paper?


Why would the Home Office spend money on installing these periscopes, when they had plenty of volunteers who were willing to leave the bunker and go up top to change the films - for free?!


Puttees in my Hands, according to the ROC´s Wikipedia page, there were plans to upgrade bunkers in the late 1980s, but these came to nothing due to the Cold War ending and the ROC being stood down.

Above ground generators to provide constant electricity, and heaters were on the cards. Nothing mentioned about new GZIs or periscopes though.
 
Why would the Home Office spend money on installing these periscopes, when they had plenty of volunteers who were willing to leave the bunker and go up top to change the films - for free?!
Because the volunteers might have a sudden attack of common sense when the reality of the situation kicks in?

That said, in the absence of NBC filters, Noddy suits and respirators, the post seems to provide protection against only the flash and bang so the Home Office could have achieved the same much more cheaply with a 4 man battle trench with overhead cover.
 
That said, in the absence of NBC filters, Noddy suits and respirators, the post seems to provide protection against only the flash and bang so the Home Office could have achieved the same much more cheaply with a 4 man battle trench with overhead cover.

Yeah, but digging in dedicated phone lines from Group HQ to every trench across the country (and fitting a radio mast to every third trench) might have been a bit of a bind during Transition To War... although the thought of watching nine middle-aged people trying to dig to Stage 3 before the instant sunshine arrived is amusing.

Anyway, I thought they had a filtration system in the post? Proof against fallout, anyway. The advantage of the ROC was that they didn't have to worry about the B or C in NBC...
 
Yeah, but digging in dedicated phone lines from Group HQ to every trench across the country (and fitting a radio mast to every third trench) might have been a bit of a bind during Transition To War... although the thought of watching nine middle-aged people trying to dig to Stage 3 before the instant sunshine arrived is amusing.

Anyway, I thought they had a filtration system in the post? Proof against fallout, anyway. The advantage of the ROC was that they didn't have to worry about the B or C in NBC...
No filtration system in the posts unfortunately. We had to do air changes of 15 minutes duration every 8 hours (if there were 3 people on post - change according to the number of live Observers inthere). There was a plan to introduce air filters and I did see a live one in place (AYR/55 post, Joppa - I was seeing a 17 year old Obs(W) on that post at the time), which was a hand cranked affair but I think only a dozen or so were installed before Stand Down.
 
Were you suggesting that some of them may have refused to go ´over the top´ in the event of a nuclear conflict?
Well, the procedures seem to be based on the idea that the nuclear delivery would take place over a number of weeks, hence the replacement of the detector papers. If the delivery was principled on MAD, the detector paper wouldn't show individual bursts and there'd be little point in tracking fall-out because it would be a blanket*.

Even a progressive retaliation (detect one, send 10) would be over in minutes as the warring powers would need to expend ammo before the first bomb landed to ensure they had the facility to retaliate.

*remember the global effect of that piddly little volcano in Iceland?
 
Well, the procedures seem to be based on the idea that the nuclear delivery would take place over a number of weeks, hence the replacement of the detector papers. If the delivery was principled on MAD, the detector paper wouldn't show individual bursts and there'd be little point in tracking fall-out because it would be a blanket*.

Even a progressive retaliation (detect one, send 10) would be over in minutes as the warring powers would need to expend ammo before the first bomb landed to ensure they had the facility to retaliate.

*remember the global effect of that piddly little volcano in Iceland?
I was always under the impression (perhaps flawed) that escalation from tactical to strategic use would be over several days and that the strategic exchange would last from hours to days depending on who / what survived, with second strike platforms retaining the ability to launch until ammo was expended.


On that basis the necessity for going topside and changing the filters may not have lasted long and then, I assume, it was just button up and sit tight until rads had dropped to a safe level?

I am happy to be corrected.
 

tocsin

Old-Salt
I was always under the impression (perhaps flawed) that escalation from tactical to strategic use would be over several days and that the strategic exchange would last from hours to days depending on who / what survived, with second strike platforms retaining the ability to launch until ammo was expended.


On that basis the necessity for going topside and changing the filters may not have lasted long and then, I assume, it was just button up and sit tight until rads had dropped to a safe level?

I am happy to be corrected.

I would tend to agree (planning-wise) with your impression.

Tasks post-strike(s) would be radiation reporting (to confirm decay rates), and possible mobile monitoring. Other than that, sit tight and consume the "cheese possessed"...

On filtration: posts were not a perfect shelter, and we expected to get an amount of contamination each time the metal slide was shoved over - the ventilation shaft was louvred, but small dust would definitely be blown in. Still better than being outside, though!
 
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