National archives: Whitehall prepared Queen's speech for third world war

Queen’s address to the nation on likelihood of nuclear strikes drawn up following bellicose rhetoric from Soviet Union

It is the Queen’s speech that nobody ever wants to hear. In 1983 senior civil servants drafted a message they envisaged the monarch might have to deliver to the nation on the eve of all-out nuclear war with Russia.

The message, rousing and bleak in equal measure, was prepared during a secret Whitehall exercise designed to test Britain’s reaction to international developments that tilted the world to the brink of a third world war. In it, the Queen would describe the “madness of war” and “the deadly power of abused technology” and call on Britain to summon the spirit of two world wars in its battle to survive.

The extraordinary speech forms part of a chilling 320-page war games scenario – codenamed Wintex-Cimex 83 – which was drawn up by top intelligence, defence and Home Office staff. It is revealed in a cache of secret documents released on Thursday by the National Archives, which evokes the shadow of nuclear armageddon that hung over Britain 30 years ago.

The address begins by recalling her last broadcast, when “the horrors of war could not have seemed more remote as my family and I shared our Christmas joy”.

She continues: “Our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds. I have never forgotten the sorrow and pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father’s inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939. Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.”

Prince Andrew, then a helicopter pilot with HMS Invincible, is, the Queen explains, already in action and “it is this close bond of family life that must be our greatest defence against the unknown”.

Other files show the government rowed with the British Medical Association’s over its estimate that Britain would suffer 33 million casualties in a nuclear attack, with more than 1 million dying from the blasts in London alone. A top-secret top secret briefing for whichever leader won the 1983 general election explained howthe Cobra room in Downing Street was equipped with facilities to trigger the launch of nuclear missiles, and advises the incoming prime minister that if a Soviet strike looms she or he should disperse ministers around the country to form “embryo governments” to take control if London is destroyed and the prime minister killed.

The briefing adds that the doctrine of “no first use of nuclear weapons” – one that was not accepted by Nato – was known as NOFUN.

The potential Queen’s speech was written as in real life the UK ambassador to Moscow warned that the warlike rhetoric of Yuri Andropov, general secretary of the Soviet Communist party, had become “profoundly disturbing”. Against this backdrop, the war planners produced a scenario in which a bellicose new USSR leadership had taken control and launched attacks on West Germany, Scandinavia, Italy and …read more  

National archives: Whitehall prepared Queen's speech for third world war

Queen’s address to the nation on likelihood of nuclear strikes drawn up following bellicose rhetoric from Soviet Union

It is the Queen’s speech that nobody ever wants to hear. In 1983 senior civil servants drafted a message they envisaged the monarch might have to deliver to the nation on the eve of all-out nuclear war with Russia.

The message, rousing and bleak in equal measure, was prepared during a secret Whitehall exercise designed to test Britain’s reaction to international developments that tilted the world to the brink of a third world war. In it, the Queen would describe the “madness of war” and “the deadly power of abused technology” and call on Britain to summon the spirit of two world wars in its battle to survive.

The extraordinary speech forms part of a chilling 320-page war games scenario – codenamed Wintex-Cimex 83 – which was drawn up by top intelligence, defence and Home Office staff. It is revealed in a cache of secret documents released on Thursday by the National Archives, which evokes the shadow of nuclear armageddon that hung over Britain 30 years ago.

The address begins by recalling her last broadcast, when “the horrors of war could not have seemed more remote as my family and I shared our Christmas joy”.

She continues: “Our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds. I have never forgotten the sorrow and pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father’s inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939. Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.”

Prince Andrew, then a helicopter pilot with HMS Invincible, is, the Queen explains, already in action and “it is this close bond of family life that must be our greatest defence against the unknown”.

Other files show the government rowed with the British Medical Association’s over its estimate that Britain would suffer 33 million casualties in a nuclear attack, with more than 1 million dying from the blasts in London alone. A top-secret top secret briefing for whichever leader won the 1983 general election explained howthe Cobra room in Downing Street was equipped with facilities to trigger the launch of nuclear missiles, and advises the incoming prime minister that if a Soviet strike looms she or he should disperse ministers around the country to form “embryo governments” to take control if London is destroyed and the prime minister killed.

The briefing adds that the doctrine of “no first use of nuclear weapons” – one that was not accepted by Nato – was known as NOFUN.

The potential Queen’s speech was written as in real life the UK ambassador to Moscow warned that the warlike rhetoric of Yuri Andropov, general secretary of the Soviet Communist party, had become “profoundly disturbing”. Against this backdrop, the war planners produced a scenario in which a bellicose new USSR leadership had taken control and launched attacks on West Germany, Scandinavia, Italy and …read more  

Brecon Beacons deaths: MoD names third soldier

Corporal James Dunsby died in hospital on Tuesday more than two weeks after collapsing during exercise in south Wales

A third soldier who died after a disastrous SAS selection test on the Brecon Beacons has been named as Corporal James Dunsby.

Dunsby, 31, who was married, died in hospital on Tuesday more than two weeks after collapsing during the exercise in south Wales as temperatures soared to 30C.

In a statement released through the Ministry of Defence, his family said he loved the army and believed “passionately” in his work.

The statement read: “James had the most infectious enthusiasm for life. He was the most loving and dependable husband, not to mention the most handsome of men who could not be more cherished. James was and will remain a dearly loved, son, brother and husband.

“He had the uniquely wonderful ability to endear, enchant and captivate all who he met with his naughty sense of humour and highly intelligent wit. With James as your friend you were ensured loyalty, strength, allegiance, protection and most of all a damn good laugh.

“James adored the army and believed so passionately in his duty as a protector of queen and country and of the realm. James was so dearly loved by so many and will be sorely missed. Hurrah & huzzah for James Dunsby, a greater man you could not meet.”

Dunsby was a member of the Army Reserves (The Royal Yeomanry). Like the two others who died – Edward Maher, 31, and Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, 24 – he was an experienced soldier who had served in desert conditions.

The three who died were among six soldiers taken ill in the area around Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in southern Britain, on 13 July. Roberts was pronounced dead on the hillside, and Maher died in hospital three hours later. It is understood that Dunsby was treated in south Wales initially before being transferred to Birmingham.

At the opening of the inquest on Roberts and Maher in Brecon last week, it emerged that the cause of the men’s deaths remained unascertained. Further tests are taking place.

It is not known exactly what they were doing but the Pen y Fan area is notorious as the location for the so-called “fan dance”, in which soldiers hoping to join the special forces march over the mountain and back carrying a heavy pack and a rifle in a set time.

Roberts, 24, had served with the Territorial Army for about five years and is understood to have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former teaching assistant lived in London and had been due to start a job in the office of the education secretary.

No details of Maher’s career have been released officially but it is understood that he too was an experienced soldier who had served in Afghanistan. The MoD did not say whether Dunsby had served in Iraq or Afghanistan but released a picture of him standing next to an armoured vehicle in a desert.

The Powys coroner Louise Hunt said the …read more  

Red Cap family sue MoD for negligence over his death in Iraq

Corporal Russell Aston was killed alongside five fellow military police officers in 2003 when crowd of Iraqis stormed station

The family of a Royal Military Police officer killed by an Iraqi crowd are suing the Ministry of Defence for negligence.

Corporal Russell Aston, 30, was killed alongside five other army Red Caps when a 400-strong group of Iraqis descended on a police station in Majar al-Kabir in June 2003.

On Wednesday it emerged that his family have launched legal action against the MoD for negligence, following a supreme court ruling last month.

In their legal claim, the family alleges that Aston’s commanders failed to take reasonable measures to keep him and his fellow officers safe. Aston was from Swadlincote in Derbyshire.

His family’s legal claim says the MoD was negligent because the Red Caps were not supplied with sufficient ammunition to defend themselves, or roadworthy vehicles or effective communications.

It is expected that families of the other Red Caps who died in the incident will join the legal action, the lawyer for the Aston family said.

The other officers were Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; Corporal Paul Long, 24, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear; Lance Corporal Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire; Lance Corporal Tom Keys, 20, from Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, North Wales; and Corporal Simon Miller, 21, from Washington, Tyne and Wear.

Simon McKay, the solicitor advocate who is acting for the families of Aston and Miller, said: “The claims follow a recent supreme court ruling extending the reach of the European convention on human rights [ECHR] to some theatres of war and the scope of combat immunity as a defence available to the Ministry of Defence.”

He said the claim alleges that the government breached Article 2 of the ECHR by failing to take measures that it was expected to in light of the “real and immediate risk to life” of the soldiers.

McKay added that the claim includes allegations of a failure to provide sufficient ammunition on 24 June 2003; a failure to provide roadworthy vehicles; and a failure to ensure effective communications were provided to the soldiers.

He said it would be open to the MoD to argue that the claims were out of time, but he hoped it would not try to “avoid accountability of a technical basis”, adding: “The justice of the case demands the families get a fair hearing.”

The move comes after families of British soldiers killed and injured fighting in Iraq were last month given the go-ahead to pursue compensation claims against the government.

The supreme court ruled that damages claims could be launched under legislation covering negligence and human rights.

The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, said he was concerned with the wider implications of the judgment, which potentially throws open a range of military decisions to the “uncertainty of litigation”.

Asked about the launch of legal action by Aston’s family, an MoD spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain with the families of those who lost their lives in this incident. However, it would be inappropriate to comment on any …read more  

Third army reserve soldier dies after Brecon Beacons exercise

Man had been in serious condition after climbing south Wales’ highest mountain during SAS selection training

A third army reserve soldier has died from injuries sustained during SAS selection training in the Brecon Beacons, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The man had been in a serious condition in hospital after climbing south Wales’ highest mountain on 13 July, one of the hottest days of the year.

Edward John Maher and Lance Corporal Craig John Roberts also died after collapsing during the military exercise.

An MoD spokesman said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm that a third army reserve soldier injured during a training exercise in the Brecon Beacons has died of his injuries.

“The family have asked for a period of grace before he is named and request that this is respected by the media.”

theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

…read more