Civil Defence Pocket Book, 1961

From 1961, the time of the Vietnam war, the Berlin Wall and great Cold War paranoia, comes this Civil Defence Pocket Book – in this case it’s the one for Wardens of the Civil Defence Corps. The organisation was set up in 1948 as a response to the rise of the Cold War, which was first termed in the previous year. This was a new idea – a permanent civilian volunteer unit during peacetime. It was designed to be a force to take control during a time of national emergency, and in particular, following a nuclear attack.

The Wardens duties were to cover local reconnaissance and reporting, and the leadership, organisation, guidance and control of the public. This handbook is supposed to be an aide-memoire of their duties, so not a complete account of all their training. In the end, they might not have had to spring into action during a nuclear war, but the Corps did help with train and flooding emergencies, as well as the primary school tragedy at Aberfan in 1966. The Civil Defence Corps were disbanded in 1968, with the government saying that the threat to national security had now reduced.

The fact it goes straight into the Warden’s duties during a nuclear attack, dictated with a stern simplicity, gives this book an unreal feeling of terror to me. The planning was for a future that didn’t happen, thankfully.

Some interesting information on the history of Civil Defence in the UK can be found here – http://www.civildefenceassociation.org.uk/HistCDWebA5V5.pdf

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