Down below I found the door locked. And then, behind me came Harry Hurrell. I hadn’t seen Harry since our early days as WTs at Cranbrook in the very early 1960s. These were the days of Home Office Communications Branch, under Commander Best, and before we became a Directorate.
After our greetings I asked Harry what he was up to. He said he, and only he, worked “down below”. He unlocked the door and said “come on down”. He took me into the sub-basement and there, in the corner was what looked like a Lead Lined Cabinet.
Around were unpacked boxes and others obviously awaiting packing. He then took me to the “Cabinet”. Outside was a control desk, a door into the “Cabinet” and racks of “Dos Meters”.
It turned out that what Harry did was to calibrate Dos Meters. Dos Meters measure “Radiation”. In times of a Nuclear Attack on this country, the Royal Observer Corps would measure Radiation. They were to pop up out of their Dugouts, which were dotted all over the South East, and elsewhere I suspect, and the information transmitted to the RSGs.
Harry would put Dos Meters onto racks, wheel them into the Cabinet, secure the door, and switch on the “No Entry Lights” and “Sirens” from the control desk. He would then remotely open the door inside the Cabinet to expose the “SOURCE” to the Dos Meters. After the right amount of time the door to the “SOURCE” would be closed and the Dos Meters exchanged.
The newly calibrated Dos Meters were then sent to the Civil Defence Store at Weedon. And that was it. Needless to say Harry always wore a Dos Meter himself, but it explains why some people at CCE, when talking about the “SOURCE”, always crossed their hands in front of their sensitive parts as if they still had hopes of bearing children. Harry was quite a bit older than me and maybe he was not quite so worried.
One of the big events at CCE was when the “SOURCE” needed to be exchanged, when it’s Radiation started to fail. A large van, similar to a security van of today, would come to CCE, escorted by police cars, with lights and horns front and rear, stopping all traffic. They would arrive and depart to and from AWRE Aldermaston. Perhaps this was the reason for the uproar in the local press about what was going on at CCE??.
Acknowledgement: John Maloney