WWII in real time


Surcouf, prize of General de Gaulle's Free French Navy, has disappeared with all 130 crew in the Caribbean, after freighter sailed away from collision. It may have been subsequently mistaken for a German U-boat & bombed by American planes. https://t.co/mHTZeoeYXq RealTimeWWII photo

The world's largest submarine, the French "undersea cruiser" Surcouf, has sunk near Panama, after a crash with an American freighter in the middle of the night. https://t.co/kt08h2xF5Y RealTimeWWII photo

In Burma, Japanese invaders have smashed through Allied defenses on the Bilin River; British are evacuating the heavily bombed capital of Rangoon.

The first Japanese military plane is flying over Sydney: taking off from a submarine, pilot Nobuo Fujita surveys the Australian city for potential bombing. https://t.co/Z4laPjZorq RealTimeWWII photo

Victorious Japanese troops marching into Singapore greeted by looting; they've shot 500 Chinese citizens "to set an example & restore order."

Before beginning massacre of Bangka Island, Japanese soldiers rape & sexually assault the Australian nurses: https://t.co/WtDUR98iS4

Vivian: "A bullet got me in the left loin, went straight through me & out at the front. The force knocked me into the water & there I lay." Feigning death until Japanese leave, she crawls into junge, lone survivor of the Bangka Island Massacre: https://t.co/CY8ht0KTbq

With the women waist-deep in surf, Japanese start to machine-gun them. Nurse Vivian Bullwinkel: "They just swept the line- girls fell one after another." https://t.co/uEtmoQHsur RealTimeWWII photo

23 female nurses, shipwrecked on Bangka Island, try to surrender; Japanese soldiers order them to walk into the sea at gunpoint. Matron, Irene Drummond, calls: "Chin up, girls. I'm proud of you & I love you all." https://t.co/xE2zZDE9c8 RealTimeWWII photo

Although fighting is over in Singapore, deaths continue; Japanese have shot over 100 wounded survivors from bombed hospital ship Vyner Brooke.

Nazi U-boats strike the Caribbean: 7 German submarines have attached Dutch island of Aruba, near Venezuela, shelling oil refineries & sinking tankers. https://t.co/hySNJCZLmM RealTimeWWII photo

Japan's new Prime Minister, General Tojo, gives speech to the National Diet, celebrating Japanese victories in Malaya & Philippines & promising "new order of coexistence & co-prosperity on ethical principles in Greater East Asia".

Thanks to unlocking Kriegsmarine Enigma ciphers, British code breakers at Bletchley Park have been able to crack secret German signals to their submarines within days; the new "Shark" code destroys years of work.

Terrible blow for UK intelligence: German U-boats have begun using a new, more complex version of the Enigma code, impenetrable to their cryptanalysis.

In his first radio broadcast for 6 months, Churchill announces horrifying loss of Singapore & surrender of its garrison; "heavy & far-reaching defeat... our worst since Dunkirk."

Eyewitness Lt. Moore: “Japanese led small groups [of wounded patients] out of sight; ensuing yells & screams, coupled on one occasion with a Jap returning wiping blood from his bayonet, left little doubt as to the men’s fate.“ https://t.co/ZhbnGES749

Before ceasefire took effect in Singapore, Japanese troops stormed the city's Alexandra Hospital & began a murderous rampage, bayoneting 320 doctors & wounded men.

~85,000 British, Indian, Australian & Malay troops have been captured by the Japanese at Singapore; it's the largest surrender in British history. https://t.co/yN9sb72cyu RealTimeWWII photo

Under a white flag & Union Jack, General Percival is crossing to Japanese lines to surrender his troops & city of Singapore. https://t.co/q8CAo8EdKD RealTimeWWII photo

General Percival has given up futile defence of Singapore; he's asked Japanese for armistice. They're demanding he beg for surrender personally.

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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