Wednesday, 17 October 2012

October 1962- Cuban Missile Crisis recalled

We are coming up to the 50th anniversary of a time, which was nearly the end for humanity in October 1962. It was the occasion that the Soviet Union and the United States almost went to war over the siting of Soviet missiles on Cuba the Caribbean island off the coast of Florida. President Kennedy issued a series of ultimatums to Soviet President Kruschev demanding that the missiles, which could easily reach cities on the eastern seaboard of the United States, be removed. The US Navy began a naval blockade of the island with the tacit threat of firing on any Soviet ships. October 24th was the peak of the crisis. The Soviets relented and the possibility of a nuclear war passed. It was a close thing

I was 7 at the time. I can dimly recall the tense atmosphere of the time when the threat of nuclear war was a real possibility. A physical reminder of those nervous times was evident just across the road from where I lived. Somebody had painted on a war close to Stoke Railway station in large letters the slogan NO WAR OVER CUBA. The graffiti was so discernible that it stayed there for many years.

However reading the newspapers of the time there is no evidence that fear gripped the populace although it is likely that fears were deliberately surpressed by a Government keen not to panic the general public. The burning question for example that animated the parish councillors of Tean as the real prospect of atomic Armageddon approached was the fear that local couples were making out in a local telephone box. A Horton farmer Mr Bailey had photographed an odd shaped vegetable- a potato that looked like a rabbit. A letter from Rushton WI warned of the dangers of fireworks

However after the event passed realisation dawned that we had a narrow escape did dawn on some

The possibility of a nuclear holocaust remained a real one during the period of the Cold War- we again claim close in November 1973 when President Nixon put US forces on a high state of alert. And with the appalling availability of fissionable material possible falling into the hands of terrorists arguably the terrible prospect continues to haunt humanity.