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UK Government War Book declassified
06-27-2009, 04:17 PM,
#1
UK Government War Book declassified
Did anyone notice this story from earlier in the week?

The UK Cabinet Office finally bit the bullet and released the 1970 version of their 'holy of holies' - the Government War Book.

The GWB is a large set of instructions which would be undertaken during the Transition To War (TTW) (originally a 5-7 day period, later shortened to 2-3 days after the Cuba Crisis of '62. Apparently, this version gives some details of the rounding up of 'subversives', the implementation of the draconian Defence Regulations, ETC.

Earlier draft Defence Regulations had proposed that once enacted, all property, currency, and shares - both private and corporate - would become property of HMG. :icon_exclaim:




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Rehearsing the end of the world

During the Cold War, civil servants used to rehearse the end of the world - what would happen if deterrence failed and nuclear war became inevitable.

David Young, a former senior civil servant in the MoD, recalls one of the "transition to war" exercises of the early 1970s.

"R hour would be the final release of nuclear weapons. There may have been an earlier tactical use of nuclear weapons but R hour was everything that's left goes. I participated in one R hour in the early hours of the morning and I remember reporting on it afterwards through the newly installed closed circuit TV. And foolishly saying because of the day of the week - 'There we are, R hour, sic transit gloria Thursday'."

'Weaken deterrence'

The exercise was taken very seriously - and jokes were frowned on, even if they were elegant puns on Latin phrases - "sic transit gloria mundi" is, of course, "so passes the world's glory".

Mr Young said: "I subsequently learned the Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas Home said, 'Who is that very foolish young man?'"

The transition to war exercises took place every two years during the Cold War, and were an integral part of deterrence.

If the Soviet Union knew the West had very detailed plans to deal with nuclear war, the argument went, it would be less likely to attack. On that occasion, in the 70s, Mr Young played the role of defence secretary - as ministers themselves were not encouraged to take part.

"They would be disinclined to play by the rules. Some of them quite liked talking, so you'd get behind time, and there would be a fear that if they showed a reluctance to do what the military believed was necessary that this would weaken deterrence," he said. The purpose was to test the government War Book. To see, for instance, if the plan gave the BBC enough notice to staff its wartime bunker, or if the plans to round up "subversives" were in the right order.

Parts of the War Book have been released before but this is the first time the whole document has been declassified.

Having the full War Book means it can be decoded to reveal what would happen and when. To get the nation from a peacetime to a wartime footing and beyond was a remarkable enterprise. It must have been one of the most terrible jobs in Whitehall - literally requiring people in immense secrecy to peer into the abyss. The scenarios for some of the exercises have already been released. For instance, the one which began in late September 1968 includes the Soviet Union landing astronauts on the Moon.

Soviet 'Moon landing'


The file has mock daily briefings from the Joint Intelligence Committee on international events - the Home Front is covered by bulletins from civil defence officials in the Home Office. Every day the "cabinet" of civil servants would meet and decide which parts of the War Book to implement. By 17 October, the day of the Soviet Moon landing, tension had risen. Czechoslovakian and Hungarian troops were said to be massing on the border with Austria. Soviet fighters had been harassing civil aircraft in the Berlin corridors, causing an American airliner to crash.

Meanwhile, in the UK, people were getting nervous. The mock news bulletins report that "letters are beginning to appear in newspapers asking when advice is going to be given to householders about protecting their homes". And in the Cabinet Office, the mock cabinet implemented a number of War Book measures, including alerting civil servants who would have to man the regional bunkers. If the bombs dropped, these would have been the regional centres of government.

Warsaw Pact 'invasion'

That exercise, like the others, proceeded with grim inevitability. Warsaw Pact troops 'invaded' Austria, then West Germany, Finland, Turkey, Greece and Italy. There were reports that biological and chemical weapons had been used. Scandinavia was threatened. Meanwhile, people started staying away from work and there was heavy demand at builder's yards for the materials to build household refuges, as well as long queues at food shops. When the Soviet forces "attacked" Danish islands, people started moving out of British cities. There were anti-war demonstrations in Downing Street but they petered out as the Soviet advance continued

The mock cabinet implemented the last phases of the War Book - removing major art treasures from London to Edinburgh, discharging all but the acutely ill from hospital and setting up the machinery of justice in wartime. The plans go into extraordinary detail - there is even one note to charge premiums for government reinsurance against war risk.

That exercise ends with R hour - the release of all nuclear weapons. David Young says his hairs still stand up when he thinks of it. "That's not an easy decision to participate in. Even though you know it's just an exercise, but it makes you think."

Sir David Omand, latterly chairman of Whitehall's Security and Intelligence Committee, also took part in these exercises for many years, right up to the early 1990s. He once played the prime minister, an experience he described as "scary". "My favourite measure, the one which always aroused a lot of debate when we played these exercises, was the introduction of censorship for private correspondence. You can imagine that was something that ministers would only agree to right at the very end when it was clear that war was inevitable."

Civil servants do not rehearse nuclear Armageddon any more. They still run planning exercises, though - usually involving a major terrorist attack.

Full article and interview with Pro Hennessey (author of The Secret State)






icewhale
&Whilst these trials were designed for specific research purposes, they demonstrated, in a striking way, the feasibility of small scale biological warfare.
An appreciable dose of viable bacteria was achieved over an area greater than 1,000 square miles by the release of only 120 gallons of suspension&
End statement of MRE Porton Down Film, &The Lyme Bay Trials& 1966
Reply
06-28-2009, 07:58 AM,
#2
UK Government War Book declassified
This is new info to me, thanks icewhale
[Image: Palestinian_Dawn_by_Palestinian_Pride.jpg]
Reply
06-29-2009, 02:27 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-29-2009, 09:14 PM by icewhale.)
#3
UK Government War Book declassified
Quote:This is new info to me, thanks icewhale

Glad you like it, MasterMG.

If you liked that, then you'll definitely like the following declassified (and released under the provisions of the FOIA 2000) BBC file - The 1975 BBC War Book © BBC B)

[Image: gallery_14611_1_77805.jpg]

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Take your time when examining it, I think you'll find that there's quite a few interesting revelations in there.



icewhale
&Whilst these trials were designed for specific research purposes, they demonstrated, in a striking way, the feasibility of small scale biological warfare.
An appreciable dose of viable bacteria was achieved over an area greater than 1,000 square miles by the release of only 120 gallons of suspension&
End statement of MRE Porton Down Film, &The Lyme Bay Trials& 1966
Reply


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