UK Reveals Nuclear War Secrets from 1975
This week's release of cabinet documents to the National Archives reveals secret nuclear war plans that included draconian emergency legislation, civil servants staffing goverment bunkers, hospitals being emptied of patients, all television and radio shutdown and a new BBC wartime radio service becoming the sole source of information. London's art treasures would have been trucked to safety in specially prepared stone quarries but notably there were no plans to evacuate civilians.
The BBC report quotes historian Peter Hennessy on the documents: "These were the Crown Jewels of genuine official secrecy... the degree of alarm for the civilian population, in relatively tranquil times, that a leakage of this would have produced would have been extraordinary." The full "War Book" remains classified but enough details have been released to sketch a grim picture of wartime Britain.
A BBC audio report includes a reading of portions of the "Doomsday script" that would have been broadcast in the event of a nuclear war in 1975 (much like the Arthur Godfrey 'Doomsday PSA' which remains CONELRAD's Holy Grail).
"This is the wartime broadcasting service. This country has been attacked by nuclear weapons. Communications has been severely disrupted and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your house. Remember, there's nothing to be gained by by trying to get away. By leaving your house you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger. If you leave, you might find yourselves without food, without water, without accommodations, and without protection. We shall be on the air every hour, on the hour. Stay tuned to this wavelength but switch your radios off now to save batteries. That is the end of this broadcast."
Included in the report are comments by veteran BBC newsman Peter Donaldson, who would have been the voice of the wartime service, recalling his pre-recording of a similar message in the '80's.
The effectiveness of the government's nuclear war planning was seriously questioned in THREADS (1984), British TV's graphically realistic answer to America's ABC-TV THE DAY AFTER (1983). The classic examination still remains Peter Watkins' 1965 THE WAR GAME commissioned by the BBC but subsequently banned and not screened on UK television until 1984 (through the loophole of its TV banning it was released as a feature film and won multiple awards including an Oscar as Best Documentary 1967).
BBC News Report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4565880.stm
BBC Windows audio: Hear the BBC broadcasts that would have played during a nuclear war
(Special thanks to Joseph Gallant for this news tip!)
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