This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross

South East England

6. South East England

RGHQ: Crowborough, nr Crawley, West Sussex (Closed down Feb 1998)

Alternate RGHQ: Basingstoke, Hampshire

Counties: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Sussex

Nuclear Targets: Aldershot, Ashford, Dover, Folkestone, High Wycombe, Southampton

Within HMG's Borders

The target of several Soviet strikes during the 1997 nuclear exchange, the presence of a number of military garrisons mean that much of south east England remains fully under the control of His Majesty's Government. The borders of the territory controlled by HMG are broadly defined by two Motorways - the M25, which encircled Greater London before the War, and the M4, which ran from London to South Wales. South of these motorways the Government remain in full control. The Cathedral City of Winchester in Hampshire has served as the UK's provisional capital since mid 1998, with Parliament meeting in the Guildhall, whilst Canterbury Cathedral in Kent remains the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior Bishop in the Church of England (the Church's Supreme head is always the Sovereign). Whilst the Soviet strikes successfully destroyed the Channel ports of Dover and Folkestone (the Folkestone strike also destroyed the UK end of the Channel Tunnel) a number of ports remain functional, most notably Margate in northern Kent and Portsmouth in Hampshire.

The Army has a number of garrisons throughout the area - the 2nd Infantry Brigade has its headquarters at Maidstone in Kent, from where it is responsible for local security in Kent, Surrey, and East and West Sussex, whilst the 32nd (Guards) Infantry Brigade is headquartered in Winchester, where it provides security for the Government and the Royal Family as well as being responsible for maintaining order throughout Hampshire. Both Brigades are also responsible for distributing humanitarian aid to the civilian population throughout their areas of operation.

The Army carries out regular patrols along the M25; these patrols are tasked with ensuring that marauders do not cross into HMG's territory. Such incursions are rare - the patrols more commonly encounter refugees attempting to flee from the marauder groups that infest the territory north of the M25; genuine refugees will be escorted to one of several reception centres, where they will be processed, being issued an ID card and ration book, housed - for a lucky few this means being found permanent accommodation, but for most it means a place in a tented camp where facilities are rudimentary, but it is still better than being at the mercy of the gangs who rule much of what is left of London. They will also be assessed for their ability to work, which for many leads to being conscripted into a Ministry of Redevelopment and Renewal (MRR) Regional Reconstruction Teams (RRT's), who are active throughout southern England, as are military teams from the Royal Engineers, the Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force. Other specialist military units are responsible for attempting to restore a number of services, such as mail delivery. In a major coup, limited power has been restored, with the Dungeness nuclear power station in south east Kent safely brought back on line by a team of Royal Navy personnel and former employees of the plant in mid 1999, after having been shut down as a precautionary measure in late 1997. The plant now supplies limited power to parts of south east England.

The Royal Navy base at Portsmouth remains operational, and is home to most of what remains of the Fleet, including the Type 42 Destroyer HMS York, which now serves as the Navy's flagship. The Navy retains a small number of Trident nuclear missiles which are stored at Portsmouth under conditions of high security (whether they retain the means to deliver these weapons is a matter of speculation - HMG has made it widely known amongst representatives of foreign Governments in Winchester that at least one SSBN remains operational and is on patrol deep under the waves, although whether this fact or bluff is unclear). The Navy are also responsible for local security in the City of Portsmouth and its immediate environs. This includes Southampton, which was a target of Soviet nuclear missiles aimed at its port and refining facilities in December 1997 - RN Salvage teams are active in the Southampton area, whilst the Navy maintains security and distributes aid to a number of camps in the area.

The Royal Air Force have two major bases in South East England. Before the War RAF Manston in Kent trained RAF firefighters and was home to an Air Cadet Experience Flight, however with a fully functional 9,000 feet long runway, it was converted to a fully operational base in late 1998 and is now home to the surviving Hawks of 63 Squadron. Two of the Air Experience Flight's Bulldogs also remain operational, and are occasionally used for reconnaissance missions over the territory north of HMG's border. Another Squadron of Hawks is based the former civilian airport at  Gatwick in West Sussex. Gatwick suffered heavy damage from conventional attack in 1997 but remains operational and has been taken over by the Royal Air Force (the airport had also been used by the RAF during the Second World War). The Hawks have not had to engage any Soviet aircraft for well over a year now, although they are occasionally scrambled to “escort” French reconnaissance aircraft out of British airspace.

Gatwick is also a major base for military salvage teams operating in southern England. The airport is home to a handful of civilian airliners which have been sitting parked in hangars for several years now. Whilst none of these are currently airworthy, RAF and REME technicians are currently working with a number of staff formerly employed by British Airways Engineering to restore one of the airline's Boeing 757's to flying condition, cannibalizing the other airframes where necessary.

Lying just to the north of the M4, the town of Reading and its immediate environs are garrisoned by a force of approximately 1,000 men from the 43rd Infantry Brigade. Effectively marking the northern limit of Government control in southern England, Reading has the atmosphere of a frontier town. Like Swindon, some forty miles to the west, it serves as a crossroads between the area controlled by the Government and the territory further north, providing a venue where merchants and traders from north and south can meet and do business. A number of camps have sprung up around Reading; nominally outwith Government control (and thus meaning that their inhabitants are not conscripted into the MMR's teams) these tented cities provide the inhabitants of Reading and its military garrison with a whole range of services.

Approximately ten miles south of Reading is the village of Aldermaston, home of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), the Government Agency which was responsible for providing and maintaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent before the war. The AWE remains partially operational and is heavily guarded.

North of the M4

The proximity of the Government garrison in Reading has ensured that the southern parts of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire are relatively clear of marauders, however the further away from the M4 one goes the more common they become.

World renowned as a centre of learning before the War, Oxford remains organised and is the focus of a regional alliance that includes the nearby towns of Witney, Abingdon, and Bicester. The City is governed by a nine man council that includes pre War politicians and academics from the various Oxford Colleges and is led by a man named Anthony Jarrett. Heavily fortified, it has a reasonably well equipped defence force which is several hundred strong and is built around several platoons of HSF troops who are supported by a number local volunteers (including a number of Oxford students who were members of the University Officer Training Corps) and civilian police officers (Thames Valley Police Headquarters was located in the village of Kidlington, just north of Oxford before the War) as well as some British and American airmen from the bases at nearby Brize Norton and Upper Heyford who elected to stay in the local area rather than relocate to southern England earlier in the War when their bases were evacuated. The troops are under the command of sixty four year old Nick Courtney, who retired from the British Army as a Brigadier in 1987. They are armed with standard British (and small numbers of American) small arms, and have several GPMG's and a Carl Gustav. They also have several Land Rovers and Bedford trucks, as well as two Humvees which belonged to the Americans at Upper Heyford. Over the last twelve months they have fought several battles with marauders encroaching from the Midlands and the area is currently secure as far as Bicester to the north and Witney to the west.

The Oxford suburb of Cowley is home to the Cowley car manufacturing plant. Owned by German company BMW, the plant produced Rover cars before the War. The plant has sat idle for several years, but is still relatively intact. Cowley was also the pre War Headquarters for the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO), a Home Office agency that was tasked with warning the civilian population in the event that a nuclear attack on the UK was detected  and providing post strike data to military and civilian authorities. The Cowley HQ was largely administrative  - the Director and most of the operations staff had moved to the EYEGLASS bunker at High Wycombe in the autumn of 1997 and died with everyone else there when EYEGLASS was destroyed by a Soviet missile -  and was abandoned at the start of 1998, although it did have an underground bunker. Designed in the fifties, the bunker would be unlikely to withstand a direct hit from a modern nuclear weapon, but would provide more than adequate protection from conventional attack. The bunker's site has been secured, and troops from Oxford carry out regular patrols of the area. Elsewhere, Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital remains fully functional, and is arguably the best equipped hospital in England outside the territory controlled by HMG. Oxford was also home to a number of breweries before the War, several of which remain in operation, producing both beer and alcohol fuels.

Recently a reconnaissance patrol from  the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, entered Oxford and made contact with the City's leadership, and have left a radio so Oxford's defenders can remain in contact with HMG. Aware that marauder activity in the area has been increasing and that his enclave's continued existence is perilous at best, Jarrett has appealed for more tangible aid from the Government to the south.

Outside Oxford, the USAF base at Upper Heyford is currently occupied by several hundred refugees who moved in shortly after the Americans moved out. It is rumoured that the Americans left behind significant supplies of food, weapons, and ammunition when they evacuated, however patrols from Oxford have been to the base several times but have been unable to find anything of value. A small number of Americans have lingered in the area - whilst some have joined Oxford's militia, others have formed several lawful and unlawful groups.

To the east of the M40 the northern part of Buckinghamshire is dominated by the Free City of Milton Keynes, which, with a population of some 75,000 is one of the largest Free Cities in England. Controlled by a local strongman name Tony Clarke, an uneasy peace currently exists between Milton Keynes and Northampton, with both vying to emerge as the major power in the region (and therefore control the majority of the resources). Clarke has a force of several hundred men under arms, and is actively recruiting mercenaries, particularly former military personnel.

The Isle of Wight

Located approximately four miles south of the UK mainland in the English Channel, The Isle of Wight retains a relatively strong agricultural industry and three breweries producing alcohol based fuels, making it self sufficient. It is also home to the Britten Norman aircraft company, whose production facilities have remained intact (as have two of the Company’s Islander light aircraft).

The town of Newport on the Isle of Wight was home to three separate prisons before the war – Parkhurst, which was a category A, or high security facility; Albany (Category B, medium security), and Camp Hill (Category C, low security). Many of the suspected subversives arrested by the Security Service at the start of 1997 found themselves sent to either Albany or Camp Hill, dependent on which Category they were classed as, whilst Parkhurst remained Category A, and received a number of prisoners who were transferred there from other facilities after the nuclear exchanges. Built to hold just over 1700 prisoners, over two thousand four hundred men were confined in the three facilities when a riot broke out at Albany in the spring of 1998. The rioting quickly spread to Parkhurst; although they were armed with a variety of weapons, the warders were heavily outnumbered, and casualties were heavy on both sides, but gradually the prisoners began to gain the upper hand. Unable to deploy troops from the mainland to bring the situation back under control, General Sir Clive Smith ordered an airstrike on the three prisons which was carried out by two RAF Tornados, causing a heavy loss of life amongst the prisoners. Several hundred prisoners did manage to escape however, quickly scattering across the island, and whilst many were rounded up, a number remain at large.

The Channel Tunnel

Opened in 1994, the Channel Tunnel was a 31 mile tunnel running under the English Channel from Folkestone in England to Coquelles in France, and actually consisted of three separate tunnels - two rail tunnels which would carry the trains themselves and a smaller service tunnel. The Tunnel carried high speed Eurostar passenger trains, freight trains, and roll on / roll off vehicle transports, which carried both ordinary cars and trucks. The Tunnel remained open throughout the opening months of the Twilight War, although French neutrality saw restrictions on what was able to pass through, and security was heavy at both ends (both the French and British authorities were gravely concerned that Soviet saboteurs or Special Forces might target the Tunnel, although these fears would ultimately prove unfounded), however the British end would not survive the nuclear strike on Folkestone in late November 1997. The Tunnel subsequently flooded, and is believed to be impassable, although the French Army maintains a heavy presence at the French end in Coquelles.

The Bodleian Library

Occupying five separate buildings in Broad Street in central Oxford, the Bodleian Library (long known to Oxford students as "Bodley" (after its founder, Sir Thomas Bodley) or "the Bod") is the main research library of the University of Oxford, and before the Twilight War was the second largest library in the UK (after the British Library in London) with over 11 million items (by law, the Bodleian was entitled to receive a copy of any published work printed in the United Kingdom). With much of the content of the British Library lost when London was attacked on Black Thursday (some items deemed to be of vital national interest were moved out of the Capital during the summer of 1997) the Bodleian now represents the single largest source of written knowledge in the United Kingdom. Many items are kept in underground storage vaults, and access to the entire Library is restricted to a handful of individuals in Oxford, most of whom were formerly academics at the various Colleges, and the separate buildings are each guarded by a detachment of Brigadier Courtney's troops. The Head of the Library is known as the Bodley Librarian; the current Bodley Librarian is a man called Timothy Claypole, who studied at Oxford's Christ Church College in the sixties.