It Would Take Just 10 Hydrogen Bombs to Destroy the United Kingdom
A single H-bomb could scatter fallout across England
by MATTHEW MOSS
In March 1955, the Manchester Guardian ran a short piece covering a report published by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission that examined the effects of a hydrogen bomb blast.
Accompanying the article was a map showing the potential path of a fallout cloud following the hypothetical bombing of the port of Liverpool.
It’s pretty chilling. And just nine more of the devices could wipe out the United Kingdom.
The report noted that heat and blast would “probably destroy all buildings within a radius of six to 12 miles,” with radiation from the ground burst traveling northeast across the United Kingdom with the prevailing wind, passing over Leeds and ultimately reaching Hull.
The 100-percent danger zone extends across the width of Britain. In this zone, anyone not in a shelter would suffer radiation poisoning.
The article advises that elementary precautions could save lives. Shelter in cellars or substantial stone buildings could, to some extent, protect from blast and radiation. The report recommends that “people caught by fall of radioactive particles can greatly reduce the danger to their health by bathing and changing clothes.”
This map shows the effect of just one H-bomb. In 1954, the British government set up a committee under William Strath to examine the effects of a nuclear attack on Britain.
Published the same month that the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission released its own findings, the Strath committee’s report estimated that just 10 surface-burst H-bombs could kill 12 million people and all but destroy the United Kingdom.