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Westminster Boffins Worried About Their Tea

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Whitehall officials worried about the survival of the great British cup of tea in the event of a nuclear attack on the UK in the 1950s, new documents have revealed. The tea situation would be "very serious" if there was a widespread attack on the UK by both A bombs and H bombs, officials drafted in to draw up contingency plans for food supplies in the event of a nuclear war said.

"The tea position would be very serious with a loss of 75% of stocks and substantial delays in imports and with no system of rationing it would be wrong to consider that even 1oz per head per week could be ensured. No satisfactory solution has yet been found," noted one official.

The formerly top secret documents dating from 1954 to 1956 were released under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Archives in Kew.

A paper drawn up in April 1955, noted: "The advent of thermo nuclear weapons .. has presented us with a new and much more difficult set of food defence problems."

Whitehall officials worried about the survival of the great British cup of tea in the event of a nuclear attack on the UK in the 1950s, new documents have revealed. The tea situation would be "very serious" if there was a widespread attack on the UK by both A bombs and H bombs, officials drafted in to draw up contingency plans for food supplies in the event of a nuclear war said.

"The tea position would be very serious with a loss of 75% of stocks and substantial delays in imports and with no system of rationing it would be wrong to consider that even 1oz per head per week could be ensured. No satisfactory solution has yet been found," noted one official.

The formerly top secret documents dating from 1954 to 1956 were released under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Archives in Kew.

A paper drawn up in April 1955, noted: "The advent of thermo nuclear weapons .. has presented us with a new and much more difficult set of food defence problems."

A Ministry of Food list "for departmental planning purposes only" puts London, Birmingham, Merseyside, Manchester and Clydeside as H Bomb targets. Those listed as A bomb targets were Tyneside, Teesside, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Derby, Purfleet in Essex, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bristol, Plymouth, Cardiff, Coventry and Belfast.

"The present assumption is that each target would receive an H or A bomb respectively," it said.

Studies from the regions had shown that this organisation could "with difficulty" cope with the problems caused by a "few atom bombs" on the principal cities.

"It would however be unable to maintain bread supplies under the conditions envisaged," it added.