How Cold War Britain Prepared for Nuclear War

During the Cold War, the awesome power of nuclear weapons and its deadly fallout meant that every town, village and home in Britain fell under the nuclear shadow, and the threat of annihilation coloured every aspect of ordinary life.

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I chat with author and fellow Cold War podcaster Julie McDowall about her new book  Attack Warning Red!: How Britain Prepared for Nuclear War. We discuss how families were encouraged to construct makeshift shelters with cardboard, plastic sheets, and sandbags. Vicars and pub landlords learnt how to sound hand-wound sirens, offering four minutes to scramble to safety. The thousands who volunteered to give nuclear first aid, often consisting of breakfast tea, herbal remedies, and advice on how to die without contaminating others.

It’s a fascinating look at the government’s attempts to prepare the UK population for nuclear war while bunkers were readied for the officials and experts who would ensure in theory ensure life continued after the catastrophe.

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Previous UK Civil Defence episodes

Cold War leaflets and documents

Assigned to a government bunker

Visit to a Royal Observer Corps monitoring post and interview with the Chief Observer who served in the post

Alistair McCann who has preserved a Royal Observer Corps monitoring post as a museum in Northern Ireland.

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Julie’s publisher has kindly provided 3 copies of “ Attack Warning Red” to give away to UK listeners only! 

To be in with a chance to win a free copy of the book you will need to do at least one of the following before 2300 GMT on 16th April 2023:

  • Twitter – Follow us and retweet our book giveaway tweets
  • Facebook Page – Follow us and share using the hashtag #coldwarconvo 
  • Instagram – Follow us on Instagram, like our book giveaway post, and tag at least two friends in the comments. Make sure you use the hashtags  #coldwarconversations
  • Mailing List – Join our mailing list and email us at giveaway “at” to let me know you want to be entered.

** Winners will be selected randomly w/c 27th April 2023. If you are a winner you will be notified directly if you have won and your details will be passed to the publisher to facilitate book delivery. Delivery of the book may be subject to small customs fees. Good luck!

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