Protect and Survive: A Timeline


I: Nuclear Explosions Explained

They are like ordinary explosions, only many times more powerful.

It is academic to argue whether the conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was inevitable. Such geo-political and philosophical arguments are beyond the scope of this study, which attempts to document, the effects of armageddon upon a major regional centre in the North-East of England. For the sake of clarity, however, a brief overview of the end's beginning will be supplied before the narrative focuses in on the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and its immediate environs.

In response to increasing Soviet aggression during the latter part of 1983, the United Kingdom, in line with its NATO allies, began to prepare for the possibility of imminent hostilities with the Warsaw Pact. Planning for the unthinkable had, of course, been underway since Attlee - now, however, the spectre of conflagration loomed larger every day - especially after the Berlin Crises of October and January. Indeed, the commencement of full-scale Transition-to-War contingencies was ordered as a direct response to this second, larger event.

In a hundred thousand homes across the nation, children ran home beaming to tell their parents that school had been closed until further notice. Despite being too young to fully understand, these smiles faded immediately upon seeing the grim expressions playing across the faces of mummy and daddy. Some parents attempted to explain the reason for the unexpected holiday, but most did not - after all, the truth was difficult to bowlderise - classrooms would be converted into ad hoc hospitals. Into makeshift morgues.

Simultaneously, all but the most seriously ill patients were ejected from hospitals across the country in order to make space for the reception of war casualties. Care homes for the elderly were also cleared - this led to at least two dozen deaths as the frailest of the frail failed to cope with the stress and strain of such disruption. It was the extreme unpopularity of these measures (combined with simmering racial and anti-authoritarian sentiments) that sparked the Brixton Riots of January 1984 - although this was far from the only civil disturbance to occur during the last days of 'peace', it achieves a grim notability as the first occasion on which a British citizen was killed by security forces as a result of the Emergency Powers Act. When one youth (who had lost his grandmother to a heart attack as she was removed from her sheltered accommodation) blinded a policewoman during the height of the rioting, he was promptly beaten to death by the SPG. This would doubtless have sparked further violence had the Government not taken full advantage of the Emergency Powers Act in order to censor any stories 'inconducive to the national interest' for the duration of the crisis. Based on the (fairly spurious) belief that these riots had been instigated and encouraged by 'enemy subversives', the security services launched Operation ANTONINE in the early morning of the 22nd of January, in which over...


The Constable didn't necessarily agree with what was going on, but he was far from appalled by it. He had never really given politics a second thought, but sitting shoulder to shoulder with his colleagues in back of a transit van he supposed that he himself was a bit of a lefty. He listened The Clash and he adored Tom Robinson (indeed, he knew 'Glad to be Gay' word for word, and in times of less extreme tension had delivered impassioned renditions to captive audiences such as this one). His hair was always too long. Nevertheless, he had convinced himself that these extremists needed to be gotten rid of - like every policeman, he had heard the lurid rumours of what was going on down South. Secretly, however, he knew that he did what he did because he wanted to live for as long as possible. Like anyone with eyes and ears and a television set, he was convinced that war was going to come, and short of moving to Switzerland, the Constable reckoned that a blue suit would guarantee him a meal ticket after the end of the world - therefore he kept his mouth shut. Subversives and Security. Cowboys and Indians. Keep your mouth shut. Choose the fucking cowboys.

For a hardcore socialist, thought the Constable, this lad had a pretty big house. Still, if everyone was so equal, the gentleman in question would have been awake and down some mineshaft by now. Hell, he thought, even miles under the North Sea would be preferable to what passed for a detention centre these days. Whatever. The Constable focused his mind on the task in hand. Creeping at the head of his team behind a well-trimmed hedge, he grabbed his truncheon and steeled himself. Waiting under a buzzing yellow streetlight, he tried to project confidence with his expression as he silently confirmed his comrades were all ready. 'Cromwell.' buzzed his little blue radio 'Cromwell. Cromwell.' By now he was already through the front door and screaming at his target, as yet unseen in the unlit house. Stamping down on each floorboard in order to project as disarming a presence as possible, the Constable threw himself up the stairs and into what he simply guessed was the master bedroom. He then began vomiting, composing himself briefly enough to call for assistance before falling to his knees and retching some more. In the corner sat a little girl in her pyjamas, with a small green frog in her arms and a large red hole in her head. In the bed, the mother lay face down. The suspect (what must have been the suspect) was sat upright with a shotgun balanced precariously upon his lower jaw. A telephone lay unhooked on the sideboard - he must have been warned. Only now did the Constable notice that the television was on. What was always on. 'Choose the room with the smallest amount of outside walls. The farther you are...'

Thoughts, suggestions, criticisms?
Question: Does WW3 with the Ruskies lead to the death of even center-left economics assuming NATO wins?

Anyways, badass timeline. ME WANTZ MOAR!!! :D
Already this is scary and cool...
But, it got me thinking...what if the war doesn't come? (It'll already have done lots of damage...)


Question: Does WW3 with the Ruskies lead to the death of even center-left economics assuming NATO wins?

Without giving too much away, I can't make any promises that the political system in Britain, or indeed internationally, will have any such resemblance to the pre-war landscape - but hey, we musn't be too pessimistic - there'll hopefully be some semblance of continuity of government ...

Next part's up this evening for those who are interested.
I'm sure you've probably read this but can I recommend the excellent 'Struggle For Survival - Governing Britain After the Bomb' by Steve Fox ( Fox is, IMVHO, the leading researcher into Cold War Emergency Planning and has uncovered a lot of interesting stuff in recent years.

I don't like to sound like I'm being presumptive but I've done a lot of research into this area for my own AH, so if I can be of any help, or point you in the right direction I'd be more than happy to.


I'm sure you've probably read this but can I recommend the excellent 'Struggle For Survival - Governing Britain After the Bomb' by Steve Fox ( Fox is, IMVHO, the leading researcher into Cold War Emergency Planning and has uncovered a lot of interesting stuff in recent years.

I don't like to sound like I'm being presumptive but I've done a lot of research into this area for my own AH, so if I can be of any help, or point you in the right direction I'd be more than happy to.

Yeah, I had found that site and it served as one of the inspirations to do this TL (along with Henessey's 'Secret State' which i'm sure you've probably read - but which I recommend anyway) but thanks for bringing it up because it really is a fascinating read.

Please have no fear of being presumptive - I'm flattered by the offer and might well have to take you up on it here and there; feel free of course to poke holes or whatever if there's something you feel is off.

On a tangential note, Jan, I've been trying to register over at TBOverse for a while now in order to say how much I've enjoyed following TLW, but the sites' being weird for some reason - now I've said it here anyway so you know, there you go.

II- The Warnings

You and your family must take cover at once. Do not stay out of doors.

As January progressed, the international situation became terser, with both sides walking the tightrope of power projection without causing outright provocation. From Northern Norway to the Southern Mediterranean, airspace was violated and shipping harassed as the opposing blocs sought to reconnoitre and disrupt their de facto enemies' front lines. Almost unbelievably, and despite some near misses, no shots were fired until the night of the 28th/29th January, when a KLM jetliner was downed south of Bulgaria by a Warsaw Pact interceptor (by now, Russian, Bulgarian, Polish, East German and Hungarian combat aircraft had been forward deployed, and the exact nationality of the attacker remains unknown).

In the UK, people awoke on the 29th to hear that HM Forces and the Security Services had increased to BIKINI RED, the highest possible alert level - absenteeism reached a high of approximately 30% as fear of immediate escalation became palpable. Within the next couple of days, following a Soviet statement through Sweden which apologised for a 'tragic error' (whilst nevertheless blaming the West for flying similarly silhouetted spy planes over provocative routes) the fear of instant oblivion subsided, although approximately 15% of the workforce still failed to show up from this point onwards. Deliberate absenteeism was exacerbated by strike action undertaken by railwaymen in London, Liverpool and Glasgow. Meanwhile, the London Underground ground to a halt due to a lack of crews. The call up of reservists from all walks of life further inflamed these problems.

Although viewed as a reaction to this industrial action that was crippling the transport system, the Railways Act of 1978 was an integral part of Transition-to-War planning. At the same time, British Airways and the Channel Ferries were commandeered. The top priority was the evacuation of British subjects from the continent (most vitally, the dependents of British forces in Germany). With the entire transport network now geared towards a war in Europe, taking to the roads in private vehicles served as the only practical means of conveyance. The closing of motorways such as the M1 to the public (deemed to be Essential Service Routes) and the placing of petrol stations under military control soon made even this difficult.

The authorities were now faced with an undesirable quandary. As many TTW objectives as possible must be achieved as soon as possible. Balanced with this, however, was the need to avoid causing undue disruption and panic. Perversely, the two aims were mutually exclusive. Indeed, the damage done to the economy was already extreme - a particularly dark joke circulated around Whitehall that the Treasury were simply praying for the bombs to come. It was this atmosphere of compromise that convinced the government to attempt to undertake several TTW aims in secret.

Operation METHODICAL was the plan to remove works of art from likely targets and move them to safety (in this case, an abandoned chalk mine in North Wales). The pre-planned operation involved moving priceless classics under military escort. Fearful of further worrying a tense population, the decision was taken to carry out METHODICAL in the middle of the night, in secret (the galleries had been closed by this point due to their 'non-essential' power consumption). At midnight, convoys of British Army Bedfords rumbled towards their respective destinations; The British Museum, The Tate, The National Gallery etcetera. Within minutes, the operation's moniker became nothing more than an ironic joke. The galleries themselves had, bafflingly, not been informed of the plan - the troops had not been given keys to the galleries. The Metropolitan Police was soon overwhelmed by frightened security guards reporting break-ins by heavily armed men. In this heightened tension (piled up, of course, on already heightened tension), a Territorial Army unit near the British Museum mistook the unannounced arrival of a column of dark green lorries in Central London as some sort of coup attempt. Similarly, the soldiers inside the convoy took the interruption of a key military operation as some sort of coup attempt. A six minute firefight ensued before a ceasefire was achieved - it was a miracle that no-one on either side had been killed. Several irreplaceable works of art were, however, destroyed. The surviving pieces made it to Wales the next afternoon on chartered coaches with entirely civilian drivers.

As this blackest of comedies occurred in the capital, a much darker omen came as two thirds of the country's fire appliances slinked silently and without lights into the night. Into hiding.


The Shopkeeper wasn't stupid. Plenty were these days - even the bloody army were running around like headless chickens if rumours were to be believed. The Shopkeeper had seen this whole mess coming months before anyone else - an eye for politics, they always said he should have been a politician. No, thought The Shopkeeper - I've made an honest living. He had siphoned off a tin here and there from his stocks - just a small shop, can't make it too noticeable - ever since that trouble in Moscow. Even when it came second on the Nine O'Clock News to those bleeding Hitler Diaries. He knew they were fakes, of course, but plenty didn't. Plenty of idiots around these days. He'd hit his wife when the silly bitch screamed at him for taking the doors down, but he had to, didn't he? She was getting hysterical - we've got to keep a stiff upper lip like in the last lot. She's got a stiff upper lip now - I should have been a comedian, he thought - they always said you were funny, a right Tommy Cooper. Mind on the task now, he started piling dirt into all the suitcases he could find, craning his neck to look at the broadsheet spread of instructions. Juss' like that - he chuckled - juss' like that. 'The fallout room should be the safest place in your home...'
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Nice work. The departure of the fire appliances reminds me of what I think is one of the most poignant scenes in Threads. When they leave you just know they're never coming back.

Do you have the latest edition of Secret State? It's worth getting even if you have the first.
Fox does maintain that Henessey is wrong about the Queen going to the Britannia. The files he's seen do support that the yacht would have carried a PYTHON group, another would have been afloat on RFA Engadine, however there is nothing that says where the Queen would have gone. Fox suggests that from what he's seen a country house somewhere would be the most likely scenario, as in WW2.
The set-up of the army's Royal Duties Force does seem to suggest that the Queen and other members of the Royal Family would go somewhere that would need to be guarded, rather than it being simple escort force designed just to get Her somewhere safely.

You might also want to mention Operation FOLIUM - the transfer of the Bank of England's gold reserves to Rhydmwyn in North Wales. The bullion would have been stored in the tunnels on site.
It was recognised that not all the gold might be evacuated in time so the Treasury decided that any gold that was evacuated was definitely British and any that got left behind would be the deposits that belonged to other countries. :D can sometimes be a bit funny with new members. Have you managed to create an account? If so let me know what the username is and I'll contact Stu about it.

Btw if you do have an interest in the Cold War may I recommend joining Subbrit. The main site is very interesting and the email message group often has a lot of interesting tidbits (it was where I found out about FOLIUM).
Oh, yes and IIRC PYTHON was by 1983 called RUBY. I wouldn't got sending off anyone to Corsham (or CHANTICLEER as it was known 1969-87). It was dropped pretty much from around '63 and would only be used post-strike when the surviving PYTHON groups came back together to form a new government.

Meant to mention if it helps I've got a Police War Duties manual from 1983. It's a small pamphlet that would have been issued to all officers around that time.

Nicely, nicely done -- what you’re writing here really is an entirely different creature from the vast majority of timelines on this site. The tension you’ve built up is incredible – it really begins to weigh on you ever more heavily with each line. The personal vignettes are a nice touch, too, and are particularly well-written.

The BIKINI STATE was supposed to be secret, but I agree with your scenario that it would leak pretty quickly. Anyone who lives near a military base, or works in a government building would see the alert status board.
I used to work in a government building in Edinburgh which displayed the current BIKINI STATE and I remember that it was always BLACK SPECIAL.
I heard from one source (defector "Viktor Suvorov") that the Royal Family would head for the Forest of Dean area-at least- that's what the Soviets thought.
BTW, will you cover the BBC's activities during the transition? (BTW, would Wood Norton still be used? Would anyone outside the BBC know about it? (They did use it for location filming in Doctor Who twice...))
This a superb piece of work this far. The prose is excellent and suitably sinister, the comparisons to Threads are very apt. It is clear that the conflict will not totally destroy western civilisation although, as you haven't stated any dates for the "present day" text, I wonder how long reconstruction will take.

Good work!
I heard from one source (defector "Viktor Suvorov") that the Royal Family would head for the Forest of Dean area-at least- that's what the Soviets thought.

Suvorov is unfortunately not reliable. Where the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family would go seems to be the 'holy of holies' when it comes to British secrets. I mean we know where the government ministers would have gone and we even now know who Macmillan and Wilson designated as Regional Commissioners, but nothing in TNA that has been released so far mentions that.

I think that it is likely that the Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and the Home Secretary would go to one location (btw together they, plus one other person can convene a meeting of the Privy Council so that HM could appoint new ministers), Charles would go somewhere else and Andrew would be aboard an RN warship somewhere as he was still serving at this point in time.
The other minor royals would probably disperse to their country homes, as would the members of the House of Lords. MPs would be expected to return to their constituencies when Parliament is prorogued.

I do think that the BBC would soon start using Wood Norton for the WTBS, but not quite yet. Shutting down the TV networks and switching over to only one radio station using Radio 4's frequencies would be a real sign that war was expected and government always wanted to give out a 'business as usual' message for as long as it could manage.
Anyone who has read 'War Plan UK' will know about Wood Norton, but it was not widely known about outside the BBC and government circles.
By the '80s all the WTBS would have broadcast would have been news and official announcements, the entertainment content had been dropped. To be honest I'd not really be in the mood for Julie Andrews, Round the Horne, Hancock's Half Hour and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue after the bomb had dropped. OTOH I might tune in to watch 'The Quiz Broadcast'. :D

Wood Norton bunker (Bredon Wing).



Can't fathom how to do multiple quotes but I'll answer try and answer everyone's queries: -

Jan, thanks again for all the info and stuff - I'll try my best to work some of it in! Ten points for catching the Threads shout - out with the fire engines (my heart always sinks watching that bit too - I think it's the silence of those big machines) and another +10 for The Quiz Broadcast reference - definitely the best bit of the current series.

I didn't realise until you mentioned it quite how confused the plans for key figures such as the Queen were - if a couple of dedicated historians are still arguing about stuff like that after 20 years of peace, I shudder to think of how it would have panned out when the bombs were dropping. I'd be fascinated to see what's in that War Duties book by the way - fits the period of the TL perfectly.

Orville, the BBC and the WTBS is certainly going to get a mention, if not just for the almost ghoulish comedy of the whole thing - plus, it gives me an excuse to work in a couple of cameos from some unlikely '80s celebrities...

Thanks to everyone else for reading and responding so positively - next bit's up tomorrow.
I suspect there was/is a plan for evacuating the Queen to a safe location. I suspect it is still secret because current plans may be similar. However I do wonder how easy it would be to actually evacuate the Queen? I can see Her taking a similar attitude to her Father and wanting to remain in London.

Henessey just seems to have invented the whole idea of HM going to Britannia. There is certainly nothing official in the files to support his contention, so I'm with Steve Fox on this one.
One edition of the War Book has been released, but AFAIK you'd have to go to TNA to see it. At least it did resolve what Operation VISITATION actually was.

I suspect that The Quiz Broadcast won't be in the next series. They've taken it as far as I think they can - remember though 'REMAIN INDOORS'. :D

EDIT: Btw still having trouble with I'm flattered that you've enjoyed TLW too.


Yeah, I'm still having a bit of trouble - i've got an account (JackieFisher) and I can log in and everything but it says at the bottom that 'You cannot post new messages, You cannot reply to threads etc etc' - any idea how to sort it out?

Next part's up this evening.
I'll ask Stu, or one of the mods to upgrade your membership. We've had regular spam attacks over there and limiting where a new member can post until they've been upgraded is the only way we've been able to prevent it.
You should be able to post in the Bar though. In general that's where new members go to say hi so that they can show they're not a bot, or spammer.

Welcome to the site, btw and I look forward to the next part of this TL.
EDIT: Stuart has now upgraded you to 'Honourable Member' so you should now be able to post and start threads. Welcome to the asylum.
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III - What To Do When The Warnings Sound

And now here is a reminder about fallout warnings.

As February came around unacknowledged, the Government continued to implement their TTW plans - the first of the month saw Operation FOLIUM take place. After the disastrous humiliation of METHODICAL, FOLIUM was conducted in the light of day, albeit with a heavy guard. After picking up their cargo of gold bullion from the Bank of England, the convoy headed west towards its destination of Rhydmwyn in Wales. Unfortunately, the lack of secrecy attached to this operation meant that large amounts of anti-war protesters, mainly students and the CND, had been tipped off that a military convoy would be heading in that direction. The eclectic mishmash of political, religious and conscientious objectors therefore set down across a B-road in North Wales, where the peace protesters had organised a sit-down blockade of the Rhydmwyn tunnels. Although admirable in their idealism and commitment, these young men and women had failed to appreciate the extreme pressure under which the security services - still on Bikini RED - were now operating. On rounding a bend and seeing the placards and tents of the 'subversives', an overtired and overworked Captain (who had been personally involved with the unpleasantness in London and therefore had something to prove) ordered the convoy to continue at full speed. For most of the protestors, pragmatism outweighed romanticism as the four ton lorries (and a Fox armoured car) shot towards them. Two die-hards, however, refused to blink, and were knocked down by the lead vehicle. Although an ambulance was immediately called out by the still-speeding convoy, both these women (two students from Cardiff University) were pronounced dead at the scene. This further increased the animosity that had been building between the vaguely defined 'left-wing' and the equally broad 'authorities'. The media, of course, did not report the story, but enough photographs and stories seeped out to lead to a wave of rioting in university towns including Oxford and Cambridge. As an aside, these disturbances merited the first (but by no means last) use in the mainland United Kingdom of rubber bullets by the police and some units of the Territorial Army.

On the 5th of February, human intelligence (HUMINT) confirmed (by literally walking up and noting their cap badges) that which NATO satellites had suspected - the Warsaw Pact formations upon the Inter-German Border were now made up of elite shock armies of the Red Army and the NVA. Maritime reconnaissance also confirmed the unusually dense movement of troop transports and amphibious assault craft in the Baltic. Amongst the fairly weighty daily updates now given to senior Cabinet ministers, the line suggesting that Argentinian naval and air forces are amassing near Tierra Del Fuego passes unnoticed.

The BAOR reaches full wartime readiness.

On February 9th, GSG-9 ambushed a group of six saboteurs in Hamburg harbour. Four are killed in the attack (along with one German trooper) and the other two take their own lives before capture. Soviet-made pistols and explosives are found on their persons. The next day, a massive explosion at Munich Airport (which destroys an American cargo aircraft carrying US Air Force dependents) confirms that this is not an isolated incident.

The United States moves to DEFCON 2.

On hearing of these attacks, the British Government decides, during an emergency, late-night session, that war is now inevitable. Given the risk that devastation could now come within four minutes, the UK's V-Bomber force (including Vulcans ostensibly scheduled for retirement in March) is dispersed to its wartime bases across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Simultaneously, the orders are given for authority to be devolved to regional government. Ever since the downing of the Dutch airliner and the subsequent increase in the alert statue at the end of January, these stations had been manned at 50% (any greater allocation was seen to be potentially damaging to the day-to-day running of the country). Now, the orders were given for Regional Commissioners to ring up their list of wartime controllers and order them into their underground shelters. Many refused, hoping to stay with their families through whatever was coming - the old Blitz spirit of 'We'll All Go Together When We Go' still resounded with some of the older councillors. In a couple of regions, including London, Regional Commissioners utilise their new-found and almost absolute powers to send police and soldiers to the houses of absent councillors and literally drag them to their posts - indeed, the alternative is the promise that they will be shot for treason. It is under this atmosphere, in noisy, cramped rooms, that the new rulers of the United Kingdom held their breath and waited. And waited.

The County Controller for the North East really wished he was in York. Yes, yes, there was a pragmatic element - Newcastle was far more likely to get bombed than York. The real reason, though, was of an aesthetic bent. York Castle was a truly beautiful structure, dripping with history. Newcastle Civic Centre, on the other hand, was an newborn structure of copper green and sheer angles - the art on the walls, if the Controller was to be candid, was simply ridiculous. Silently, he cursed whoever it was that put a firebomb into his first choice for a regional headquarters. Still, he thought, I must look on the plus side - I shall be much closer to the public here when it comes to the reconstruction. Although not a tall man, the Controller found himself stooping as he entered the basement of the Civic Centre. Despite the conditions being cramped, he noticed that the headquarters was still worryingly undermanned. His heart therefore leapt each time a gentleman (or, he thought rather bemusedly, a couple of ladies) stooped through the one entrance.

He was especially pleased as his Food Officer walked through the door, flanked by a particularly grim faced young member of Northumbria Police. Even after the young councillor came out with a particularly obscene and surprisingly creative tirade, the Controller was undaunted. 'England expects', he intoned dryly over the roar of the air conditioning and the cackle of the typewriters. 'England expects!'. 'In some areas, the warning may be given by means of three gongs...'
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Nice work.
FOLIUM would not have been one single trip. It's likely that it would have been a series of convoys which would have kept going until either all of the gold was moved, or a Soviet nuclear warhead destroyed the Bank of England.
To be honest I've little sympathy for someone who does not get out of the way of a speeding military convoy.

The Regional Commissioner for the Northeast (Region 2) would have been at Shipton (RGHQ 2.1) in an old ROTOR era Sector Operations Centre, with his deputy and back-up at Hexam (RGHQ 2.2) in a converted Cold Store. If instead you mean the County Controller, or the district controller (the bloke in Threads) then, yes, he may well have ended up under the Newcastle Civic Centre. A lot of new civic centres, libraries and fire stations built in the '80s included a council emergency centre, as much so as the Home Office grant for such things could be used to subsidise the new building as anything else.

Your controller should be glad he's not working for the Tory controlled council who thought that a couple of portacabins protected by skips was an 'Emergency Centre'. :eek: