[Cold War civil defence exercise, Braintree Council, Essex, 1953] Collection of duplicated papers relating to the Council's 'Civil Defence Exercise “Robin”', with Autograph Annotations (one Signed) by the author, Brigadier H. H. Dempsey.

[Cold War civil defence exercise, 1953, Braintree Council, Essex] Brigadier Harry Hamilton Dempsey CBE (1895-1973) [Atom Bomb; Nuclear Deterrent]
Publication details: 
[Urban District Council of Braintree and Bocking, Essex.] Clerk's Department, Town Hall, Braintree. 31 October 1953.
SKU: 20971

15pp., foolscap 8vo. Duplicated typescript on twelve leaves, stapled together. In good condition, lightly aged and worn. Several separate documents (some with separate dating) grouped together with a general cover page, which reads: 'Urban District Council of Braintree and Bocking | Civil Defense Exercise “Robin” | at the Braintree Community Centre, Sandpit Road, Braintree | on | Saturday, the 31st October, 1953 | 14.30 hours to 18.30 hours | Clerk's Department, Town Hall, Braintree.' Ownership inscription in pencil at head of cover 'Brig H. H. Dempsey', and annotated in pencil by him throughout. The main body of text consists of the details of three 'Problems', each with a its own set of 'D. S. Comments', preceded by five pages (the second to the sixth) of preliminary material. The second page lists officers and staff of the exercise, including 'Director of Exercise | Brigadier H. H. Dempsey, C.B.E. Assistant County Civil Defence Officer | Northern Sub-Division.', annotated in pencil by Dempsey, with initialled signature: '(and writer of these papers – my last of the kind!)'; third page, 'General Instruction and Information'; fourth page, 'Programme'; the fifth page lists the forty-five members of the three 'Syndicates' involved in the exercise, the page is annotated by Dempsey with details of training time; sixth page has 'Opening Narrative' (beginning 'On 18th October, [annotated by Dempsey '2 weeks ago'] 1953, following a period of political tension a war emergency was declared in the United Kingdom, orders being issued for all Defence Services, including Civil Defence Corps, to be placed on a full war footing. | 2. By 30th October, 1953, the Civil Defence Corps, of Braintree and Bocking Urban District had fairly well shaken down to a war routine. [...]') and 'Assumptions'. The premise of the exercise is begins thus: 'During the morning of 31st October an atom bomb was exploded over LONDON, confirmation of this being received at BRAINTREE at 1300 HRS. by message from County. this was passed on to all Sections. | 2. Then at 1445 hrs. 31st October there was a big explosion in the direction of and apparently not far from H alstead. A small mushroom shaped cloud formed. […]' Elsewhere: 'By 17.15 hours. 31st October, a considerable crowd of people has collected in BRAINTREE, one estimate being that there must be 3,000 persons round about the Town Hall, The Avenue and neighbourhood. These include refugees from the South in all sorts of motor vehicles. The crowd is well behaved but grim. There is much uncertainty whether to stay or move on. Many are obviously sick. The area is becoming badly fouled not only with litter but also from the sanitation point of view.' Several of the problems convey the absurdity of the exercise, as for example: 'Some dogs and cats, frightened and bewildered, all being obviously pets – and a canary in its cage singing its heart out – are seen about the place. | Should anything be done about these; and if so what and by whom?' The comment in response to this begins: 'All attached pets should be sent to the nearest centre provided for them where there is accommodation. It would be the Wardens duty to get this arranged pending the arrival of personnel specifically allocated to the task.'