Role of the U.K.W.M.O.

In this section we give an overview of the function the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (U.K.W.M.O.) and how it fitted in with Government bodies and the Military.



The body known as The United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (U.K.W.M.O.) was set up in 1957 to warn the general public, government and the military of any impending nuclear attack on the U.K. Its other role was to warn of fallout from nuclear weapons affecting the U.K. Even if the UK wasn't the intended target, fallout from detonations in Europe may affect our territory. The Royal Observer Corp, who had served the country well in World War 2, became the eyes and ears of the UKWMO.

During the life of the UKWMO UK Civil Defence went through a number of phases. In 1968 the government reduced the spending on Civil Defence and disbanded the Civil Defence Corps, Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) and the Industrial Civil Defence Service (ICDS). Civil Defence continued on a care and Maintenance basis only. A reorganisation in 1972 shaped Civil Defence into the structure described on this site. The Thatcher government of the eighties increased in spending on armaments and Civil Defence. This led to modernisation of the Home Defence and Emergency Communications networks, no sooner was this completed the Cold War came to an end. Only the AFS Green Goddesses were retained in mothballs and used during various Fire Brigade strikes until being sold off in 2004.

When the political changes in the Soviet Union signalled the end of the Cold War, the closure of the UKWMO was announced in the U.K. Parliament on 12 November 1992. All the warning systems described on this site were dismantled and the bunkers sold off.

Outline of Role

A possible attack would be notified to UKWMO officers stationed at High Wycombe or Preston who would issue a national attack warning to the public via the HANDEL network and radio broadcasts. If the ROC monitoring posts detect a detonation before a national warning was issued, procedures were in place to ensure a retrospective attack warning was given. Should the attack fail to materialise or not involve nuclear weapons, a national all clear would be notified in a similar way.

Fallout warnings would be issued locally by the UKWMO and be relayed to the public via the carrier network and radio broadcasts. This data would be shared with the Regional Government Headquarters, Local Authority Emergency Centres and Military Nuclear Reporting Cells to enable these to control the post strike recovery operation.

After the attack, when radiation levels in a particular area had dropped to a safe level or if an area wasn't affected by fallout, an all clear would be sounded by sirens and radio broadcast stating which areas were now considered safe for people to emerge from their shelters.

How the UKWMO fits into the U.K. War Emergency Structure

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