In times of imminent death


I like living. I think that has been well established. As much as I am a cynical arse, there’s some things I really like about this planet. I enjoy going on walks, and seeing what’s going on in the world. I like seeing life, and I love the possibilities that life brings.

Of course, life is finite, and I would implore all of you to live it to its fullest. And no, I wouldn’t recommend a YOLO lifestyle. I say this because life can be taken from you in many ways, naturally, or unnaturally. And that brings us to our main topic. Nuclear Warfare. I think it is well established that Nuclear weapons are quite frankly the worst thing to come out of the 20th century (Oasis notwithstanding) and with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and the subsequent Cold War, life on earth could have just ended any moment. One button press and all is lost.

I was reading about a thing called the letter of last resort. It is one of the first things any Prime Minister will do when they’re brought into office. 4 letters, inside a safe within a safe, inside our Nuclear submarines which travel throughout the world. The letter is basically the last order that the Government of the UK would give, in the event that we are all killed, in a When the Wind Blows style attack. Before the letter is written, a high ranking Cabinet official from the MoD will give the PM a presentation on precisely what a Trident Missile will do if it was ever shot. Anyone with two brain cells will work out that it means pretty much certain death for humanity. Its a missile. A nuclear one.

The Prime Minister is usually given 4 options for what they want to order the submarine to do. These are…well we don’t know. The fact is that these letters are secret. They are never meant to be opened. They are only opened by a Submarine commander if Britain has been hit by a Nuclear missile, after making a series of checks (including checking if Radio Four is still broadcasting). In fact, when a new letter is written, the old ones are destroyed unopened. And frankly, that’s what any sane person would want.

Some have guessed what it said, and our best guesses for what these options are include:

  1. Retaliate
  2. Don’t Retaliate
  3. Go to America or Australia and ally with them, if they’re not dead.
  4. Do what you think is best.

I find it depressing and oddly comforting that we live in a world that these things are being prepared for, that we are ready for certain death, whenever and if ever that time comes, and with the world superpowers being who they are, and the potential leaders of those super powers (you know which people I am referring to), I think it is wise to prepare for the worst. Whatever it says in that letter doesn’t matter. I’ll more likely than not be dead after a Nuclear attack. But what would I do in that situation? Like the letters of last resort themselves, I will keep it a secret.

If you’re still in a good mood after this, might I suggest watching these Protect and Survive PIF’s from the 70’s, which would be aired 72 hours before an imminent Nuclear attack. There’s an hour’s worth of stuff there, so if you woke up in a horribly good mood today, then I advise you watch this.


About the author


Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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