This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross
The 01st of January saw French troops occupy parts of the Netherlands and Germany. While the British Ambassador in Paris protested this “act of unprovoked aggression”, the UK was in no position to offer more tangible support to either country.
The same day the fifteen year old Prince William was crowned King in Salisbury. Given his young age, his uncle, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, would act as Regent (a serving Naval officer, Andrew had served with distinction at the start of the War). He would also be guided by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Estranged from Prince Charles, Diana had been escorted from her home to Salisbury by men of the Welsh Guards in time to see her son’s coronation. The first act of King William V as Monarch was to declare a full state of Martial Law. General Sir Clive Smith, C in C of the UK Field Army and the most senior surviving officer in the British Army was promoted to Chief of the Defence Staff as the Army took over full control of the country in the absence of an effective central Government. At a local level much authority nominally remained with the Regional Commissioners and their staffs. Several RGHQ’s had been completely destroyed however (none had been built to withstand a direct hit from a nuclear missile), whilst other centres suffered from desertion as staff abandoned their posts to be with their families. Those that remained functional struggled to maintain control in the face of mounting disorder. Some Commissioners performed admirably, whilst others proved hopelessly out of their depth. One killed herself, whilst another suffered a nervous breakdown.
A range of emergency measures were implemented. Provision was made to expand the Home Service Force, with Army units, particularly Territorials, recruiting at a local level. Whilst some recruits were conscripted, there was no shortage of volunteers, as being in the Military guaranteed food and shelter. The quality of these volunteers varied, as did the training and equipment that they received; some performed in an exemplary manner, whilst others drew their weapons then promptly turned marauder, terrorising the very communities that they were meant to protect. Most simply did the best that they could.
A number of prisons had been emptied; all prisoners who had less than two years to serve as well as those serving sentences for a range of so called lesser offences were released. Though well intentioned, this plan was flawed, as in many cases the newly released prisoners simply banded together and proceeded to terrorise local communities. Those serving sentences for more serious offences were transferred to a handful of prisons that remained functional. Some of the UK’s most violent prisoners were able to take advantage of the chaos to escape. In at least one instance a detachment from the Royal Military Police escorting a group of sex offenders that included several child killers and paedophiles simply drove to an isolated location and administered summary justice, executing every prisoner in the group.
Many of the surviving Cities were in various states of anarchy, with rival groups competing to secure power. In many places the gangs’ allegiance was to pre War housing estates or various football teams. The strong had food, the weak did not. Many of those who had fled the cities for the perceived safety of the countryside found themselves little better off. The lucky ones were welcomed into people’s homes, initially at least. Others were simply turned away, sometimes at gunpoint. Even those who thought they had found a welcome and a safe place to stay discovered that this was not always the case; some people welcomed refugees in to their homes only to kill them for a handful of food, rape them, or force them into working in the fields. Spring also brought fresh outbreaks of disease, with particularly virulent strains of flu sweeping through the country claiming large numbers of lives.
At the end of February the Queen of the Netherlands and members of her family fled their homeland in the face of the French invasion. Arriving at Portsmouth aboard a Royal Navy warship, they sought sanctuary in the UK. The French protested to the British Government, but in truth their protests were half hearted; though the UK had been severely weakened by the nuclear strikes, the French had no wish to become involved in open conflict with the British, particularly since they knew that the British still retained nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
The Military concentrated on carrying out disaster relief and maintaining the rule of law. The safest parts of the country were those that had large military garrisons; the continued presence of the 5th Infantry Division at Catterick ensured that North Yorkshire and the industrial areas of the North East remained stable, whilst in the south other units attempted to keep order and deal with the aftermath of the strikes on London and Kent. The Lake District and North Wales also remained relatively calm, as did parts of East Anglia, where RAF and USAF personnel helped maintain order. In Scotland, the towns of Perth and Stirling had banded together under the leadership of a group that included military commanders, town councillors, and the Member of Parliament for Perth, Alex Stewart MP, of the Scottish National Party. For those within these areas life was harsh but bearable.
In Northern Ireland the 107th (Ulster) Brigade launched a counter attack against the Irish Defence Force (IDF) in the spring. Whilst the Irish were initially able to hold their positions as the year wore on the UDR began to gradually make inroads into the territory occupied by the Irish troops as the conflict developed into a bitter war of attrition.
In the middle of April the bulk of British forces were withdrawn from Norway. Whilst most of the 3rd Commando Brigade was attached to the US 2nd Marine Division, the remnants of the British element of the Allied Mobile Force were brought back to the UK, arriving in South Shields aboard the DFDS ferry “Princess of Scandinavia”, from where they moved to Catterick to refit and rebuild. Shortly afterwards, with the BAOR in dire need of reinforcement, the 5th Division embarked on the Princess of Scandinavia and a number of smaller ships and sailed from South Shields for Bremerhaven, in what would be the last major British reinforcement of the War. Following their departure, responsibility for local security passed to a number of Territorial Battalions based in the area.
In May Parliament reconvened for the first time since Black Thursday as a number of surviving MP’s and Peers met in the cathedral city of Winchester in Hampshire. With Douglas Montgomery confirmed as Prime Minister. Parliament’s first act was to pass a continuation of the Emergency Powers Act, with the Military retaining primacy for law and order. Most of the surviving members of the British and Dutch Royal Families moved to the Winchester area at this time, taking up residence in several country houses just outside the City, although those in the immediate line of succession to both Thrones (Prince Harry for the British and Prince Willem Alexander of Orange for the Dutch) were moved to secret locations in secure areas controlled by the Military (rumours persisted for some time afterwards that they had gone overseas, to either Australia or New Zealand).
It seemed that the nuclear attacks had hit the UK hard but not fatally. However, in late September the Soviets struck again, with a second wave of strikes intended to destroy what remained of the UK's War economy and manufacturing facilities, most of which were now concentrated in the north of England. By now the UK’s early warning systems had been severely degraded, and these strikes took the country completely by surprise, plunging the UK into a state of total anarchy.
The Midlands and the North had taken the worst of the second wave of strikes; Cities were in flames, whilst the wind brought danger from fresh fallout. Lawlessness was everywhere; several Territorial Army Battalions were virtually destroyed, whilst other units disintegrated in the face of fresh waves of disorder and rioting that totally overwhelmed what resources the Government had. Isolated personnel managed to link up with other units that were still intact, but many simply turned marauder, or, in some cases, mercenary. In East Anglia the areas around the US and British airbases remained relatively stable, but much of the rest of the region was overrun by an influx of marauders and refugees as winter approached. In Northern Ireland the Irish Defence Force, bolstered by reinforcements from the South, took advantage of the chaos on the mainland to launch an offensive against the UDR which succeeded in making some modest gains. By the end of the year the War in Ireland had reached a stalemate as both sides concentrated on making preparations for the winter.
The North East of England had escaped the nuclear holocaust, but Catterick garrison had suffered heavy losses with several Battalions decimated in the strikes on the northern Cities, and the remaining troops were now struggling to maintain order. Recognising the strategic importance of retaining control of this area, several Territorial Infantry Battalions based in North West England and Scotland were ordered to move to Catterick to reinforce the garrison there. Unwilling to move away from their home areas, these Battalions refused to move however. With several Home Service Force units also refusing to obey orders, the Government’s control of the north east began to unravel rapidly and by the end of the year it had lost the Cities and only controlled the area within a ten mile radius of Catterick.
In many of the areas that were outside Military control power now lay in the hands of rogue military units, criminal gangs, or a combination of both. Murder, theft, and rape were all commonplace, with men killing each other for a kilo of potatoes, a bottle of water, or a woman.