Scotland “strong-armed” into having US NUCLEAR BASE?

President Eisenhower & Harold Macmillan outside 10 Downing Street, circa 1958

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Scotland was pressed to accept nuclear base on Clyde ‘so US servicemen

POLARIS nuclear missiles were based at Holy Loch, as President Eisenhower wanted his men to have access to “comfort, morale and amusement” in Glasgow.

SCOTLAND was pressed to accept  nuclear weapons on the Clyde so that US sailors could enjoy the Glasgow nightlife, according to recently declassified documents.

The documents, subject to a new BBC documentary, show that then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan tried to persuade President Eisenhower to consider less populated areas for the submarines carrying Polaris missiles, including Loch Linnhe in the Highlands.

The documentary will tell how the UK Government offered to host a submarine base in return for access to US nuclear technology.

But rather than having atomic weapons stored at Holy Loch on the Clyde, within 30 miles of Scotland’s biggest and most populous city,

Macmillan suggested: “Loch Linnhe would be a far better location. From a security point of view a robust population of three or four thousand Highlanders at Fort William is much more to my taste than the rather mixed population of the cosmopolitan  city of Glasgow .” 

Eisenhower agreed that it would be a better option, but objected on the basis his men would not accept the remote location.a2a2{L} George Middleton, General Sec of Scottish TUC addresses 3000 protesters. (Dec 1960)    {R} Polaris Demonstration at Holy Loch, 3rd Feb 1961

He said the servicemen should have access to a city for “comfort, morale and amusement”.

Between 1961 and 1962, about 2000 American servicemen were based at Holy Loch, home to the US Navy’s Submarine Squadron 14, part of Submarine Force, US Atlantic Fleet.a1a1.JPG{L} Anti-Polaris demonstrator carried away from Ardnadam Pier by the police, 22nd May 1961 {R} Demonstrators against nuclear armaments on Ardnadam Pier, August 1961

In 1960, Eisenhower sent a telegram to Downing Street which laid out his conditions.

Conservative Prime Minister Macmillan attempted to persuade the US President to divert the submarines away from urban populations.

He wrote: “Dear friend, I am sure you realise that this proposal will cause serious political controversy in our country at this time. I am convinced the Clyde would not be the right place either in your interests or ours. The placing, so to speak, of a target so near to Glasgow would, I believe, give rise to the greatest political difficulties that would make the project almost unsellable in this country. It would surely be a mistake to put down what would become a major nuclear target so near to the third largest and most overcrowded city in this country.” 

Macmillan also suggested that the servicemen may not receive a warm welcome. 

He said: “Your officers and men would have to live in the spots chosen for them and their lives would be extremely difficult if they were badly received by the local populations.”

 

a12.JPG{L} Police try to disperse demonstrators outside Ardnadam Pier, May 1961.  {R} Anti Polaris demonstration continues, 17th Sept 1961

As well as the stunning location of Loch Linnhe , alternative locations Falmouth in Cornwall, or Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

His protests were in vain as, without US assistance, it would have been impossible for Britain to maintain its own nuclear deterrent.

Macmillan reluctantly bowed to pressure and, despite outraged public opinion and huge sustained protests, the first Polaris submarine sailed into Holy Loch in March, 1961. SOURCE 

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wp-1475719546836.jpgBritain strong-armed into having US nuclear base on Clyde, papers reveal

Britain was strong-armed into accepting nuclear weapons on the Clyde because the US president wanted his sailors to have access to the bright lights of Glasgow, according to recently declassified documents.

The documents show that Harold Macmillan, the prime minister, was strongly opposed to having American atomic bombs stored within 30 miles of Scotland’s largest city in the 1960s.

In an effort to avoid damaging political fall-out he tried to persuade President Eisenhower to agree that submarines carrying Polaris missiles should be sited in Cornwall, Wales or Loch Linnhe, near Fort William.

However, the US leader refused to countenance any alternative as he wanted his men to be based near a city for “comfort, morale and amusement”.

The story of how the Holy Loch came to house a nuclear arsenal will be revealed in a television documentary. It tells how Macmillan offered to host a US submarine base in return for access to American nuclear technology.

Between 1961 and 1992, Holy Loch was the home base of the US Navy’s Submarine Squadron 14, part of Submarine Force, US Atlantic Fleet, and about 2,000 US servicemen.

In early 1960 Eisenhower made clear his intentions in a telegram to Downing Street, which laid out the deal. However, Macmillan tried desperately to persuade his ally to site his submarines away from a major urban centre.

On June 24 he wrote: “Dear friend, I am sure you realise that this proposal will cause serious political controversy in our country at this time. I am convinced the Clyde would not be the right place either in your interests or ours. The placing, so to speak, of a target so near to Glasgow would, I believe, give rise to the greatest political difficulties that would make the project almost unsellable in this country. It would surely be a mistake to put down what would become a major nuclear target so near to the third largest and most overcrowded city in this country.”  He added: “Your officers and men would have to live in the spots chosen for them and their lives would be extremely difficult if they were badly received by the local populations.”

The Conservative premier suggested Falmouth or Milford Haven, before offering a more remote Scottish site to his American counterpart.

He noted: “Loch Linnhe would be a far better location.From a security point of view a robust population of three or four thousand Highlanders at Fort William is much more to my taste than the rather mixed population of the cosmopolitan city of Glasgow.”

Eisenhower acknowledged that Fort William was better placed but insisted that its rural location would not be acceptable to his servicemen.

Stephen Twigge, head of modern collections at the National Archives at Kew, where the documents are held, claimed that Americans would not want to be sent to a small Highland town that offered little in the way of entertainment.

Desperate to ensure that Britain would be able to maintain its own Polaris nuclear deterrent, which would be impossible without American assistance, the prime minister reluctantly backed down. Despite strong protests, the first Polaris submarine sailed into the Holy Loch on March 8,1961.

A Very British Deterrent was shown on BBC Two Sept 4th 8pm. SOURCE


A Very British Deterrent – History of nuclear weapons (Trident) in UK. via Scott Arthur

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