WWII in real time


General Wavell, commander of Singapore: "There are neither plans nor fortifications to defend the north side of this 'impregnable fortress.'"

With Japanese just 30 miles north of Singapore, Churchill is horrified to hear that the city is only fortified against attack from sea, to the south.

US Treasury reports an anonymous American veteran, stricken by conscience, has mailed them $36, with a note: "For overpay in the last World War."

Red Army's first ever large-scale airborne attack is erratic: Soviet paratroopers are scattered across 10 miles, most of their supplies lost, as Luftwaffe pick the transport planes from the skies.

Red Army are trying radical new tactics: thousands of Soviet paratroopers being dropped behind German lines, ordered to regroup & capture town of Vyazma. https://t.co/HGTlzVsTq0 RealTimeWWII photo

Greece & Yugoslavia are making plans to merge into a Balkan Union: in London, the governments-in-exile of Nazi-occupied nations have agreed to join economies & military forces after the war.

As Japanese invaders advance further down Malayan peninsula, smashing through defenders' lines, British cartoon shows Japanese octopus nearing Singapore, "jewel of the British Empire": https://t.co/WxqK7fqbek RealTimeWWII photo

Lombard was almost bumped off her fatal flight for Air Force pilots; but the actress pulled rank, arguing her publicity tour for US government was "war work".

Carole Lombard, American film star & wife of Clark Gable, has been killed in a plane crash, flying on a public tour of USA to sell war bonds. https://t.co/SLEVDXqXJH RealTimeWWII photo

Despite brave & fierce defence by Indian & Australian troops, Japanese have fought across the river Muar (1 on map), advancing ever-closer to heavily-bombed Singapore: https://t.co/Qzi9GbvVHN RealTimeWWII photo

Gen. Arthur Percival, British commander in Malaya: "The young Indian recruits were helpless. They didn't even know how to take cover, & there were not enough officers to control them. I say this in no spirit of disparagement. It was the penalty of years of unpreparedness for war"

Rather than attack fortified bridges, Japanese have sneaked across the Muar River in small Malay boats, & are taking Indian defenders by surprise, from behind- leading to confusion, panic & retreat. https://t.co/MNxjC20XCo RealTimeWWII photo

Japanese forces are back on the offensive in Malaya: despite slaughter at Gemas, Japanese Imperial Guard are attacking, bypassing Australian & Indian defences on the Muar River. https://t.co/s8B8hAEAuH RealTimeWWII photo

US government has not ordered a coastal blackout at night- meaning shipping is outlined against glow of city lights-, nor organised merchant ship convoys or warship escorts; reports of sunken ships are censored.

German submarines wreak havoc in US coastal waters: 4 more merchant ships torpedoed today, 9000-gallon oil tanker explodes 47 miles off Long Island.

Despite calls to suspend American Major League baseball games for duration of the war, President Roosevelt insists teams play on: "6000 athletes will provide a vital morale boost for US workers & soldiers." https://t.co/eGpm4CHXzr RealTimeWWII photo

German Admiral Dönitz has sent his U-boats to hunt American ships as a "Paukenschlag"- a "roll of drums", to show the USA the power of the Kriegsmarine unleashed.

German submarine U-123, hunting American shipping, has surfaced off coast of New York- close enough to see fairground rides of Coney Island silhouetted against the city's bright lights. Kriegsmarine captains astonished- & delighted- by American unpreparedness.

Roth: "Strelezkaja burns to the ground, in every hut lie 20-30 dead Russians." Red Army counter-massacre, butchering the wounded in a nearby German field hospital.

German soldier Hans Roth: "Most of the Russians didn't even get up- everyone is clubbed to death on their cots. The whole nightmare lasts about a half hour."

Cold War Use

The life-span of the Regional War Rooms appears to have been quite short, though details are unknown. By the time that most of the purpose-built structures were nearing completion in 1955-6, the advent of nuclear weapons had led to an enormous change in the perception of the threat posed by the Soviet Union, and the needs of Civil Defence. The threat now was of complete breakdown of central government with the Regional War Rooms being superseded by Regional Seats of Government (RSG), fully autonomous regional command centres, hardened against nuclear attack.
Some of the purpose built Regional War Rooms were adapted as RSG’s, but this was not the case with Kenton Bar which did not have the room for expansion required for the increased number of staff. The exact date of closure of the regional war room is uncertain although it is thought that most of these facilities had been supplanted by RSG’s by around 1960.

After its use as a war room ceased it was used as a training centre for RSG and later Sub Regional Control staff in Region 1. The presence of materials related to Exercise ARCADE (ROC run exercise) confirms the continued use of the bunker. Sub regional control units were on a smaller scale than RSG’s meaning the Kenton Bunker could have been used. However; it was deemed too near the City centre target area for use as War HQ for the Newcastle Sub Region, remaining dormant with occasional staff training until about 1965, after that date it was used for storage for the government offices on site.

In 1968 it was considered for use as a temporary Sub Regional Control until a purpose built one could be built in Hexham however nothing came of this. It remained in use until the stand down of Civil Defence in 1968 after which date it was retained on care and maintenance as the County Borough War HQ. In the 1971 Home Defence Review it was still officially performing this role and in 1974 it was transferred to Tyne & Wear County council. The newly formed Newcastle District Council officially designated it as their war HQ but nothing was done to it due to the Council’s extreme left wing policy on Civil Defence and their refusal to pay rent to the Home Office. They instead used the sub basement of Sunderland Civic Centre letting Kenton Bunker remain dormant. Later in 1982 the Sub Control in Heaton was designated as Main War HQ.
In 1986 Tyne and Wear County was abolished and the newly formed Tyne and Wear Fire and Civil Defence Authority wanted to turn the filter room into a modern emergency centre, a scheme that was halted by the end of the cold war in 1989.

One Response to Cold War Use

  • keith ward says:

    hi,

    please see subbrit.org website for full history of Newcastle civil defence..
    the main Newcastle County Borough control was in Blakelaw filter room from c1962 until 68 , we visited in 2007 and council unweleded it for us , see website for pics etc..
    in 1974 Kenton was designated as new Tyne and Wear County control but they refused to do anything and as you say used Sunderland instead.
    the sub control at Heaton a surface blockhouse of 1954 was allocated to district council who demolished it in 1985 to stop its use as mega left wing..
    I have stacks of info on Tyneside cd , Durham county had bunkers like Heaton at Jarrow , Whickham and used old WW2 bunker in Gateshead park for Gateshead County borough , whole area got priority money in 50s at target but Kenton like other war rooms remained out of use after 65 ….

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