If – or when – a nuclear bomb was dropped on Cold War Britain, the nation was primed to react fast. When the sirens sounded, children would run home from school using the quickest familiar route. Families would wait out the nuclear fallout under the stairs, while political leaders would evacuate to bunkers across the country, ready to launch the regeneration plan. But were all these plans actually just a load of nonsense? Julie McDowall tells Matt Elton about Britain’s nuclear response plans, and questions their effectiveness when faced with the reality of instant annihilation.
Julie McDowall is the author of Attack Warning Red! How Britain Prepared for Nuclear War.
Matt Elton is BBC History Magazine’s Deputy Editor. He has worked at the magazine since 2012 and has more than a decade’s experience working across a range of history brands.