It must be remembered that the BBC article refers to UK Home Defence planning in the mid-fifties - just as UK Government planners were trying to get
their heads around the differences between planning for an atomic weapons exchange and the complete devastation which might be wrought by the use of
the newly developed H-Bomb.
You'll be pleased to hear that ten years later, the UK Government was still concerned about the 'morale boosting' properties of tea.
During August 1966, a senior MAFF Civil Servant created a 'temporary' file in order to prevent the inclusion of TOP SECRET material in another less
highly classified, and already opened, file.
The subject of this TOP SECRET discussion?
Tea... and how the newly created Home Defence concept would affect its procurement from abroad after a nuclear exchange.
"2. I have been holding back MR Hall’s submission, dated 30th June, because the fluid situation regarding [redacted] and UKSA has made it difficult
to discern the best course to pursue regarding the replacement of the Director (designate) for tea, Mr A. B. Yuille.
3. Those aspects of the new concept of wartime central Government relevant to the replacement of Mr Yuille are-
(a) we have secured agreement to the MAFF component of about 30 (to include trade advisers) at each of the three replicated UKSAs;
(b) there will be no wider plans for a shadow wartime HQ.
4. Account must also be taken of three other factors-
(i) our food scientists have consistently contended that tea is of very considerable importance as a sustainer of morale in GB.
(ii) we already possess an organisation in the form of regional tea officers (designate) and a lower stream of procurement and the control in the
wholesale groceries and provisions organisation;
(iii) we also have designate tea procurement officers in India and Ceylon.
5. All this suggests that a trade adviser for tea at UKSA is essential to provide a link between the regional designate posts and the appropriate
overseas procurement officers. Whether our meagre complement in UKSA permits that a trade man for tea should take up one on the posts is questionable;
but the importance of tea to morale suggests that one post should be so allocated. If on the other hand we decide against a tea officer in UKSA it
would still be advantageous to have a designate officer who could at least be instructed in the precautionary stage to contact the central government
supply agency, through the regional commissioner, if he survived the attack."
The final phrase - "if he survived the attack"
- neatly sums up how attitudes had changed since 1955 - from an earlier assumption of survival
to an acknowledgment of probable annihilation.
Originally posted by pause4thought
Incidentally the British government could always be depended on to provide a safe haven for its citizens. They even had the foresight to erect a huge
arrow-shaped signpost saying "Secret Bunker" near a main road in my part of the world, in case of nuclear holocaust. You can learn about this
splendid facility here:
Second thoughts: I've just checked out the 'Cold War Role' tab and it reveals that the place was designed to enable
...135 civil servants and military personnel to survive a sustained nuclear attack
...at a cost of £32 million. So much for the people who put the politicians in power in the first place. However if your sources are reliable that
might have been the greatest number of people for whom they could guarantee a decent brew...
Most of these Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ's) were not constructed to protect against blast - and they were only constructed with a fallout
protection factor of 1000, something which the Home Office were beginning to regret as far back as the mid-1960s.
And by the mid-'70s, as recently declassified UK Government documents reveal, there was serious doubt about the ability of the UK Government to offer
any assistance to the general public after a full nuclear exchange.
This draft note (see above), written by a senior H.M. Treasury official in 1973, considers four different scenarios of nuclear attack on the UK. By
the Treasury's reckoning, scenario (d) was "A total nuclear attack employing high power missiles which would destroy all but a small percentage of
the UK population and almost all physical assets of civilised life"
While describing 1973 wartime Treasury policy, the official continued:
"...As for (d) [total nuclear war], the money policy would of course be absurdly unrealistic for the few surviving administrators and politicians
as they struggled to organise food and shelter for the tiny bands of surviving able-bodied and the probably larger number of sick and dying.
of the other departments contingency planning might also be irrelevant in such a situation. Within a fairly short time the survivors would evacuate
the UK and try to find some sort of life in less-affected countries (southern Ireland?).