Letter of the week

I read with interest Natasha Walter's article about the bunker (Regional Seat of Government No 6) at Warren Row near Reading ("How my father spied for peace", Essay, 20 May).

I was a civil servant, posted to the bunker in order to serve as assistant to the more senior colleague nominated to be the regional commissioner, with powers of life and death should there be a nuclear war. I was given little notice of what it was all about and what my task was to be.

I took my place in what I found to be a ludicrously disorganised, and indeed unworkable, exercise. Communications did not work, and conditions in the bunker were such that I rapidly reached the conclusion that I would rather take my chance outside than stay there any longer.

However, I felt, and still feel, that if (as the best assessment available at the time suggested) ten million or so people were to survive an attack, enough of a government machine might remain in being at some level and might be capable of continuing to provide food, law and order and other services, even if at a rudimentary level, to justify the effort involved.

Incidentally, I was rigorously questioned by the security service following the debacle of the open door Ms Walter reported, and seriously suspected as one of those responsible for the revelations. For some years, it did my promotion prospects no good. I never did receive an apology, and I hope, given that all this happened about 40 years ago, that my civil service pension is not now at risk . . .

Ivor Lightman
Lisvane, Cardiff