Communicating the Unthinkable

About

This is a blog where I share documents + artefacts from the Cold War. It focuses on British civil defence and 'domestic propaganda' from 1950-1990, with other bits thrown in from time to time.

It's written and edited by me, Taras Young. I collect this stuff. I try to post something new as often as I can, at least once a month.

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@coldwaruk

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Categories

1950s · 1960s · 1970s · 1980s · 1990s · Administration · Advertisement · Analysis · Booklet · Central Government · Central Office of Information · Civil Defence · Civil Defence Corps · Cultural responses · Document · Emergency planning · Exhibitions · Home Office · Infrastructure · International · Leaflet · Local Government · Media · Medical · Military · Ministry of Defence · Postcards · Protest · Public Information · Royal Observer Corps · Training and Tools

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Displaying posts tagged '1950s'

Building a nuclear bunker: Hogs Back ROC Post

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If you have even a passing interest in civil defence and preparations for nuclear attack on the UK, you’ll quickly come across ROC posts. These are small, three-person bunkers, built by the government and manned by members of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC).

Known as ‘observers’, the mission of these civilian volunteers was to go to their monitoring post when nuclear attack was imminent, and detect and report the direction and power of any bomb blasts. Readings from several posts could be taken together to triangulate the precise location where a nuclear weapon had hit.

At one time, these tiny bunkers were dotted in a grid pattern across the landscape of the UK: by 1968, more than 1,500 had been constructed. However, many have now been lost – ploughed back into the land by the farmers on whose land they were built. (Others, like those at Portadown and Skelmorlie, have been restored and you can visit them for yourself on open days.)

I was recently lucky enough to come across a series of photos taken of the construction of a long-lost ROC post, the one at Hogs Back, near Guildford in Surrey.

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Airdropped leaflet from the Grapple nuclear tests

This is a leaflet produced by the British government in 1957 and intended to be airdropped over the Pacific Ocean. Unlike most airdropped leaflets, this one isn’t propaganda – it’s a very real warning to get out of the area, or risk being nuked.

Operation Grapple was a series of nuclear weapons tests carried out by the UK in the Pacific from 1957 to 1958. The first tests, Grapple 1, 2 and 3, featured Britain’s first ever thermonuclear weapons – what most of us know as hydrogen bombs. Up to this point, Britain had had fission (‘atomic’) bombs, but H-bomb tests by the U.S. and Russia in 1952/53 meant the UK had to be seen to be up-to-speed. Britain had to test its own H-bomb or risk losing its place on the world stage.

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