This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross
RGHQ: Bawburgh, nr Norwich, Norfolk (closed down Mar 98, staff relocated to RAF Coltishall, Norwich)
Alternate RGHQ: Bedford, Bedfordshire (destroyed Dec 97)
Counties: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk
Nuclear Targets: Bedford, Felixstowe, Luton
Before the War a large part of the economy of the East of England was agricultural, particularly in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire (Norfolk was the UK's largest producer of potatoes). The southern part of the region was more industrial, with large numbers of commuters travelling from satellite towns around the M25 to work in London every day, whilst major companies with facilities in the area included British Aerospace, Glaxo Smith Kline, and Unilever, whilst Vauxhall Motors (owned by General Motors) and Ford owned car manufacturing plants at Luton in Bedfordshire and Dagenham in Essex respectively (Dagenham was also home to Sterling Arms, manufacturer of the Sterling sub machine gun until they went bankrupt in 1988; following the outbreak of War there were some limited attempts to reopen the plant with Government assistance at the start of 1997 but they ultimately came to nothing). Located in Buncefield just outside Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, The Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal was the fifth largest oil terminal in the UK with a capacity to store 60 million gallons of fuel. It was attacked by Soviet conventional bombers in December 1996, causing a fire that raged for thirty six hours and destroying over two thirds of the oil stored there.
Norfolk / Suffolk
Norfolk and Suffolk both hosted several Royal Air Force and United States Air Force air bases, making them a target for Soviet conventional air and missile attacks during the opening phases of the War. The nuclear exchange caught up with the region in early December 1997, when a Soviet nuclear missile targeted the twin port facilities of Felixstowe and Harwich (the former was the busiest container port in the UK whilst the latter had been the main departure point for ships taking troops and material to the Continent). The missile missed its mark however, detonating directly over the nearby City of Ipswich, which was totally destroyed. Both ports suffered some damage, which was compounded by subsequent disorder, but would not require a large amount of work to be brought back to working order.
In the aftermath of the nuclear strikes on London large numbers of refugees poured into the region from the Capital at the start of December 1997. As with elsewhere in the UK, the reactions from locals to these refugees varied – some tried to help them, although they were a minority, with the majority concerned about their own survival. An already precarious situation was made even worse by the destruction of Ipswich, which added many more displaced souls. Norfolk and southern Suffolk managed to remain relatively stable, thanks partly to strong leadership provided by the staff of the RGHQ in Norwich but mainly to the significant British and American military presence (in addition to the Air Force personnel a Battalion of Territorial Army Infantry were also stationed in the region), with the airmen maintaining order and taking charge of food distribution, and substantial organised enclaves continue to exist in the areas around Norwich, King’s Lynn, and Bury St Edmunds, all of which were located close to air bases. The American and British airmen actively patrol the areas around their bases, and up the A11 as far as Norwich. These patrols are well armed and well equipped by local standards, operating alcohol fuelled Land Rovers and Humvees and M750 armoured cars. As well as military personnel, American the bases are also home to a large number of dependents and other American civilians who sought sanctuary on the US bases after becoming trapped in the UK. Both the British and the Americans retain a small number of operational aircraft, including one of the last airworthy SR71 Blackbirds in the world, however a lack of fuel means these aircraft are all effectively grounded. Much of the fuel that the British and American forces in East Anglia use comes from the Greene King Brewery, which was established in Bury St Edmunds in 1799. Whilst that takes up the majority of its output, the Brewery also continues to supply a limited amount of beer for pubs in the Norfolk and Suffolk enclaves.
The enclaves are operating totally independent of HMG; their leader is Julia Saxon, a civil servant who was formerly on the RGHQ staff at Bawburgh. Saxon is an able and competent leader who is well liked within Norwich. With a surplus of both food and alcohol fuels, Norfolk and Suffolk are in a relatively fortunate position and she has ordered that supplies be stockpiled to safeguard against any future shortages. Saxon is well aware that the security of her enclave is intrinsically linked to the large American presence in the region. Recently rumours have begun to circulate that the Americans may be planning to leave England before the end of the year and she is deeply concerned that if these rumours are true Norwich may not be able to survive alone.
The Sizewell nuclear power station complex lies on the Suffolk Coast, just over ten miles north east of Ipswich. The complex consisted of two plants, Sizewell A, which was built in the 1960’s, and Sizewell B, which only came on line in 1995 and was the UK’s first (and only) pressurised water reactor. Both plants were taken safely offline in late November 1997 and the sites secured. In addition to more standard measures police officers left a number of signs warning that the site was heavily radioactive, an act that has deterred virtually all would be looters. The sites are not radioactive and with the appropriate personnel and materials it would be a relatively straightforward task to bring both sites back on line.
Elsewhere, the East of England has no central control. In Cambridgeshire the RAF base at Wittering has been abandoned. The RAF's main Harrier base before the War, the Harriers all deployed to Germany in late 1996, leaving behind a small caretaker detachment, the last of whom abandoned the base in late 1998, some of them finding their way to the Free City of Peterborough, where they joined the City's defence force. Small numbers of airmen remain at the British base at Wyton and the American base at Alconbury. Out of all contact with either British or American higher headquarters, the airmen have banded together to provide security for the town of Huntingdon in exchange for food. The bases have a small number of operational aircraft – a Canberra PR9 at Wyton and two F16C’s and a TR1 at Alconbury – which have all been grounded due to a lack of fuel. The airmen are chronically short of ammunition however, and rarely venture further than their bases or the fortified perimeter around Huntingdon.
A number of other British and American airmen have simply deserted, either individually or in small groups. Some of the British have tried to make their way back to their families whilst others, both British and American have turned marauder. The area north of Peterborough is home to a group known as Bad Company that includes a number of deserters from Regular and TA units and is led by Sergeant Simon Barrett. a former Regular Army soldier. Bad Company prey on travellers, setting up roadblocks along local roads and charging a toll to pass. The tolls are payable in food, water, and other items that have barter value. Those unable or unwilling to pay are frequently beaten then killed, with their bodies left by the side of the road as a warning to others. Barrett also occasionally sends small groups into Peterborough, where they will seek employment as guards on a merchant convoy so they can lure the convoy into an ambush.
Known for its World famous University before the War, Cambridge is now a Free City. As with several of the other Free Cities in England, Cambridge is not controlled by any one person or group. The area around the City was home to a number of high tech companies focusing on software, electronics and biotechnology before the War (the area was known locally as Silicon Fen). Much of the work was done in association with the University of Cambridge. Most of the offices and labs have been ransacked by looters on multiple occasions, however the occasional piece of high technology still surfaces, often finding its way to the markets at one or other of the Free Cities, where it will often fetch a high price, and scavengers often return to the business parks around Cambridge hoping to find something that will secure them several month’s worth of food (quite how useful much of this technology is in post apocalyptic England is another matter altogether).
The London Commuter Belt
The closer one gets to the M25 Motorway the more common refugees become, many of whom fled from Greater London and the West Midlands. Several communities have been taken over entirely by refugees, particularly within ten miles of the M25, with rightful owners being driven from their properties, creating fresh waves of refugees in turn. Those manufacturing sites in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire that survived Soviet conventional and nuclear attack have been stripped of virtually anything that can be carried away, although this does not deter scavengers picking over what remains on a daily basis in the highly unlikely event of finding some treasure that has been overlooked.
A group of refugees cum marauders several hundred strong has taken over a Motel on the outskirts of the town of Hatfield, whilst numerous other smaller bands can be found throughout Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. Generally small in number and relatively poorly armed (often they will only have melee weapons supplemented by one or two civilian rifles or shotguns), these gangs will steer clear of large, well armed groups, preferring instead to prey on those travelling alone or in small groups, robbing them of food and goods that can be traded. Foragers and scavengers are commonplace, as are merchants and traders travelling between the Free Cities as far as Leicester and Northampton. As in the East Midlands, they often travel together in convoy, seeking protection in numbers.
Much of the eastern part of Essex is inhabited by numerous small groups of refugees and marauders. The largest of these groups is based in and around the town of Chelmsford and is nearly two hundred strong. Stansted Airport is home to a refugee community several thousand strong who occupy a shanty town built around the terminal building (the airport’s runway was rendered unusable by Soviet conventional attack in 1997). This community is led by a man named Danny Talbot, and is gradually emerging as the most stable area in the region, with more people arriving on a daily basis. Talbot is an effective and popular leader; unknown to anyone however is the fact that he is a convicted criminal who was midway through a fourteen year sentence for armed robbery with violence when he escaped from jail in the chaos following the 1997 nuclear strikes. Epping Forest lies on the western edge of the County where it borders Greater London. Consisting of 2746 acres of woodland, grassland, rivers, bogs, and ponds, the Forest is rumoured to be home to a group of refugees from the Capital who have resorted to cannibalism to survive. Whilst various places in the UK have rumours of cannibals in the summer of 2000, a number of people have gone missing on the edge of the forest, causing many local people to avoid it.