We Blazed the Trail

Woodfield Publishing Ltd
ISBN 1-84683-049-4
Cold War history
  • Description
  • More Details
  • large format softback
  • 205 x 190 mm
  • 120 pages
  • b/w and colour photos

edited by Robin Reid and Malcolm Cleverley 


The short but eventful history of the Civil Defence Experimental Mobile Column 1953/4
Illustrated with many photographs in b/w and colour, this informative book records the short-lived history of the Civil Defence Experimental Mobile Column, set up in 1953 to provide emergency aid to British towns in the event of a nuclear attack.

The Civil Defence Experimental Mobile Column was formed in January 1953 in answer to a call from central government for the establishment of a fast-response mobile squad of highly-trained rescue personnel which could be rapidly deployed to any British town or city in the event of a nuclear attack.  It was to be the first of 100 or more such columns, covering the entire country.

The Army agreed to supply 100 men and the RAF 50. Many were conscripts who would spend the second year of their National Service in the column, after undergoing four months of intensive training.
A site for the Column’s HQ was found at Kiln Lane, Epsom, Surrey and work began immediately to establish the required facilities to house and train the personnel.

The Mobile Column was then sent out on excercises to all corners of England, Scotland and Wales, where Column personnel were able to demonstrate their rescue skills in numerous simulated disaster scenarios.
Fot the most part they were greeted enthusiastically and gratefully by local mayors and other civic dignitaries and the Column’s personnel were offered splendid hospitality.

But the Column was not without its detractors, some of whom claimed that any attempt at nuclear defence was futile and a waste of valuable resources that would be better directed elsewhere. The Column’s visit to Coventry in 1954, in particular, was the target of protesters.

Despite the overall success of the Experimental Mobile Column, the government of the day decided not to expand the scheme, and in December 1954, after just two years in existence, the Column was disbanded.

Nevertheless, those who served within its ranks never forgot their experiences and this book records their efforts and the role they played in the history of the Cold War.

This illustrated account contains over 100 historic photographs in black & white and colour as well as a detailed diary of the Column's activities over the two years of its existence.