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Award-winning real stories of the Cold War told by those that were there. Every week we interview an eyewitness of the Cold War. Across soldiers, spies, civilians, and others, we aim to cover the whole gamut of the Cold War experience. Hosts Ian Sanders, James Chilcott and Peter Ryan bring your ears into the heart of the Cold War. Reading a history book is one thing, but hearing a human voice, with every breath, hesitation and intonation brings a whole new dimension to understanding what it ...
 
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Tim Lyon was an officer assigned to the 400th Strategic Missile Squadron located in Cheyenne Wyoming. The Squadron was responsible for 50 Peacekeeper ICBM missiles based in underground silos in farmers’ fields in remote areas of Wyoming. Tim was one of two launch officers who were responsible for 10 of these missiles. He and his colleague would des…
 
Warning: This episode does cover the subject of suicide. If you need help please use these links: UK https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/ Rest of the World https://findahelpline.com/i/iasp Dean Reed was an American actor, singer and songwriter, director, and Socialist who became a huge star in Latin America and the Eastern …
 
On 10 February 1962, Gary Powers, the American pilot whose U2 spy plane was shot down in Soviet airspace, was released on “The Bridge in Spies” in Berlin by his captors in exchange for one Colonel Rudolf Abel, aka Vilyam Fisher - one of the most extraordinary characters in the history of the Cold War. Born plain William Fisher in Newcastle upon Tyn…
 
Marie-Claude Hawkes continues her story with her return to Berlin in 1985 as a French teaching assistant at the Havel School RAF Gatow, teaching French and taking part in school activities in West and East Berlin. Between September 86 and August 87 Marie-Claude was employed as a cartoonist for the Berlin Bulletin, the weekly magazine for the Britis…
 
In 1981 Marie-Claude Hawkes was an 18-year-old living in Amiens, France when she embarked on a trip to East Germany looking for adventure… Among her experiences was working in a lignite coal mine. Lignite is considered the lowest rank of coal and the most harmful coal to human health but was a major fuel source for East German power stations. Marie…
 
Part 2, of a two part recording. Part 1 is here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode268 In October of 2022, I was asked by the West Pennines Military Vehicle Trust to moderate a Q&A session with a number of BRIXMIS veterans. Attending were Drivers Neil Walton, Pete Curran, Dave Collins and Kev Smith, plus Sandy Saxton-Warne (Joint operations & …
 
In 1986 Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev said “Never perhaps, in the post-war decades has the situation in the world been explosive and hence more difficult and unfavourable as in the first half of the 1980s. “ He was referring to a period of immense tension between the Soviet Union and NATO when in 1983 a NATO exercise called Able Archer was believ…
 
In October of 2022, I was asked by the West Pennines Military Vehicle Trust to moderate a Q&A session with a number of BRIXMIS veterans. Part 2 is here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode270 Attending were Drivers Neil Walton, Pete Curran, Dave Collins and Kev Smith, plus Sandy Saxton-Warne (Joint operations & weapons) , Mike Hill (Tour office…
 
Sean Kelly is the author of Home Bases: Memories & Stories of US Military Bases Around London which for the first time, puts the spotlight on the history of many of the US Military’s lesser-known command and support bases that were located either in or close to London. The bases (often known as ‘Little Americas’) are furthermore brought to life in …
 
We’re back with Alan Hodges, a Royal Tank Regiment Chieftain tank commander, and Mick Hadfield who was his 17-year-old gunner. In this episode we talk in detail about their deployment within a kilometer of the East German border and their tasks should H Hour have come as well as emergency deployment from barracks. There is no affection for their ma…
 
Alan Hodges was a Royal Tank Regiment Chieftain tank commander and troop SGT in West Germany. Mick Hadfield was his 17-year-old gunner. The affection between the two is still apparent even today and Mick still calls Al his army Dad. Mick met Al in 1987 straight out of his armoured corp gunnery training at Catterick. They served for 3 years together…
 
In the early 1970s, the athletes of East Germany started to achieve incredible sports results, winning medals and setting new world records with astonishing frequency. For many years, their sporting supremacy was hailed as a triumph of the socialist government's commitment to scientific research and innovative training methods. However, after the C…
 
From the moment East Germany was formed in 1949, many of its citizens chose to leave to start a new life in the West. By the mid-1950s, the trickle had turned into a flood as large numbers rejected Walter Ulbricht’s Communist paradise. His ‘Workers’ & Peasants’ State’ could not afford to lose the skills and productivity of these key workers, so he …
 
Dave Phillips is a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London. The Yeoman Warders have been guarding the Tower since Tudor times. Dave joined the British Army aged 16 into the Royal Irish Rangers. We hear of his early years in the Army in Northern Ireland and his posting to West Berlin. In West Berlin Dave is part of the force that guarded Rudolf Hess, a…
 
We continue the story of Richard Stachurski from the previous episode. Part 1 is here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode260 In 1971 Richard left NASA and was assigned to the Drone/Remotely Piloted Vehicle Systems Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. From 1975-1978 Richard did a tour of duty with the Air Staff at the Pent…
 
Richard Stachurski joined the US Air Force in 1962, on the cusp of the Cuban Missile Crisis as a security police officer guarding nuclear-armed B-58 Hustler bombers. Within two years he volunteered for the Minuteman nuclear missile program where he served as a Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander with the 68th Strategic Missile Squadron at Ellswort…
 
The Home Service Force or HSF was UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Cold War version of the World War 2 Home Guard. An almost forgotten unit, the HSF was established in 1982 and recruited from ex-regular Army, ex-territorial and ex-uniformed service personnel aged up to 60 years old. Its mission was to guard key points in the UK as the perceive…
 
Back in the 1970s, migrating from the Soviet Union was an unattainable dream for many, particularly Jews wanting to leave for Israel. To leave the Soviet Union for another country, it was necessary to obtain exit visas. In practice, many people found them impossible to get. On the morning of June 15, 1970, 16 Soviet Jews who had been refused exit v…
 
Trevor Howie’s role at RAF Gatow was advising the Station Commander on Station defence during times of war, tension or terrorist threat as well as the defence of 26 Signals Unit at the Teufelsberg listening post. RAF Gatow’s western side was located right against the Berlin Wall which was clearly visible from the control tower. Beyond the Wall was …
 
Following his RAF Regiment officer training Trevor Howie was posted to 34 Sqn at Raf Akrotiri in Cyprus, commanding C Flight. The RAF regiment was effectively the Royal Air Force’s infantry, providing ground defence for air operations. 34 Sqn had a dual role of providing defence at Akrotiri and in the event of war at RAF Wildenrath in Germany. Trev…
 
The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is reckoned to be one of the most perilous events in history, when the World faced a looming nuclear collision between the United States and Soviet Union. During those weeks, the world gazed into the abyss of potential annihilation. I speak with Sir Max Hastings whose new history Abyss: The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 te…
 
Fred Haise was one of the three astronauts on the ill-fated Moon mission when a design fault caused an oxygen tank to explode mid-mission putting the Apollo 13 crew in mortal danger on April 13th, 1970. This was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the Moon. Now as you can imagine I’m genuinely excit…
 
Richard Blevins enlisted aged 18 in the US Army in March of 1987. He completed Basic Training & Military Police School training in July of 1987 and was posted to West Berlin as a United States Military Policeman. He describes his selection for Berlin duty while at Rhine-Main AFB in Frankfurt and his first journey across East Germany on the US Duty …
 
MZ was an East German motorcycle manufacturer located in Zschopau, Saxony. The acronym MZ stands for Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH (German for Zschopau engine factory). In the 1980s MZ was regarded by the British motorcycle press as producing ugly and old-fashioned (if worthy) motorcycles however, there was a hard-core set of UK fans who loved this re…
 
This is the 2nd part of my interview with Lt Col. Stephen Harrison, MBE who served for two years as a full-time Touring Officer with BRIXMIS. The tours were hazardous three-man, vehicle-borne patrols collecting intelligence on the Warsaw Pact forces in East Germany for up to five days and nights over a series of four-month patrolling periods. In th…
 
Lt Col. Stephen Harrison, MBE served for two years as a full-time Touring Officer with BRIXMIS. These Tours were hazardous three man, vehicle-borne patrols collecting intelligence on the Warsaw Pact forces in East Germany for up to five days and nights over a series of four-month patrolling periods. They lived in the field and did not carry weapons…
 
A young Claudia Bierschenk lived at the edge of a world called the GDR, in a village surrounded by hills, valleys and thick forests. Her great uncle lives in the Forbidden Zone, the area where the East German border is a few metres away from West Germany. This is where the villages are like ghosts towns and inhabitants need special permits to enter…
 
A young Claudia Bierschenk lived in a village surrounded by hills, valleys and thick forests at the edge of a world called the GDR. It could be beautiful, but the Iron Curtain runs through it, like a tectonic plate separating East and West and Claudia from her West German relatives. She tells of her life in this isolated area, of village life, far …
 
In 1961, members of the Alabama Air National Guard secretly took part in the failed invasion of Cuba by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles known as the Bay of Pigs. This was a covert attempt by the United States to overthrow the Soviet-allied Cuban government of Fidel Castro. Pete Ray was one of eight Alabama guardsmen who flew combat missions on April 19th …
 
Paul continues his story with his recruitment into the Army Air Corps. It’s initially delayed with a tour providing airfield repair in West Germany and then the Falklands, but finally, he’s at training at Middle Wallop, the home of the Army Air Corps. He describes the training including underwater escapes, flying and navigation. As a Gazelle crewma…
 
Paul joined the Royal Engineers in 1977, aged 16 as an apprentice. We hear of his experience of joining the army at such a young age and being away from home for the first time. After initial training his first posting was to Osnabruck in 1979. Shortly after his arrival Paul is appointed to the challenging role of driver to the Squadron Sergeant Ma…
 
In the early 1980s East Germany had just 5000 members of the Church of Latter-day Saints, many of which had been members since before World War 2. In 1982 East German leader Erich Honecker historically allowed the church to build a temple in Freiberg and in 1988 Mormon missionaries were allowed into East Germany. Ken Brady describes his experiences…
 
KC flew the US Navy’s airborne Electronic Reconnaissance during the 1980s in the Lockheed EP-3 which is an electronic signals reconnaissance version of the P-3 Orion. He flew as a Navigator, Senior Electronic Warfare Evaluator and Mission Commander. We hear about several missions he was involved in including his first detachment to Athens the then …
 
What is it like to be under secret police surveillance? On 10 March 1983, 12-year-old Carmen Bugan returned from school to find Romanian secret police in her living room. Her father’s protest against the regime had changed her life forever. In recent years Carmen gained access to the files of the Romanian secret police. She herself is surprised by …
 
Keith Bailey Joined British Army at 16 in 1973. He was recruited into the Blues and Royals, (Household Cavalry) and served in West Germany as a gunner in Chieftain tanks. However, he was keen to serve in the Royal Military Police and particularly 19 (Support) Platoon known as "The White Mice". Their role was to track the SOXMIS (Soviet Military Mis…
 
Graham Bate was 30-year-old Civil Servant when he built his own nuclear bunker in the garden of his rural home 20 miles outside Hull in the UK. It was here that the Bate family expected to survive for at least 3 weeks after a nuclear attack. We speak with Graham Bate and his son Conrad who was 5 years old when the bunker was built and has vivid mem…
 
You might remember listening to short wave radio during the Cold War and coming across weird transmissions of metallic voices reciting random groups of numbers through the ether. These are number stations, shortwave radio stations characterised by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which were being sent to spies operating in foreign countries. Number…
 
The Cold War years were a period of unprecedented peace in Europe, yet they also saw a number of localised but nonetheless very intense wars throughout the wider world in which air power played a vital role. I speak with former Cold War Tornado pilot and acclaimed aviation historian Michael Napier who has written Flashpoints: Air Warfare in the Col…
 
Marti Peterson was the first female CIA operative to be assigned to Moscow, probably the most challenging posting during the Cold War. Don't miss the previous episode here https://coldwarconversations.com/episode236/ This second episode turns to TRIGON, the code name for Alexandr Ogorodnik. He was an official in the Soviet Embassy in Bogota, Columb…
 
Marti Peterson was the first female CIA operative to be assigned to Moscow, probably the most challenging posting during the Cold War. Her story begins in Laos during the Vietnam War where she accompanied her husband John, a CIA officer. She describes their life in a small city in Laos, and the devastating news she received on October 19, 1972. Mar…
 
The 13th World Festival of Youth and Students was held from 1–8 July 1989 in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It was the largest international event staged in North Korea up until then. The event took four years of preparation by the North Korean government, which effectively spent a quarter of the country's yearly budget (US$4.5 billion) on …
 
Ian Foulkes was exposed to the deadly nerve agent Sarin in 1983 at the Porton Down Chemical & Biological Defence Establishment., one of the UK's most secretive and controversial military research facilities. Ian describes in detail the process and the ill effects this caused him and shares details of a little-known fatality where 20-year-old Ronald…
 
In 1964, pilot Captain Hansen found himself unemployed. He began to send out feelers to several companies including one that had placed an ad in the Washington Post called Air America. When he was called in for an interview which primarily consisted of two questions - can you fly good and do you drink a lot. Air America was the airline owned by the…
 
During the 1970s and 1980s, Arthur Grace travelled extensively behind the Iron Curtain, working primarily for news magazines. One of only a small corps of Western photographers with ongoing access, he was able to delve into the most ordinary corners of people's daily lives, while also covering significant events. His remarkable book Communism(s) A …
 
Zsolt Akos Pall was 17 when he decided to flee Cold War Romania for a better life in the West. It’s a heart-warming story of the generosity of strangers. Young Zsolt finds compassionate border guards, gets lost in Vienna and has incredible luck wherever he turns as he negotiates the iron curtain as well as many other international borders to reach …
 
Zsolt Akos Pall was born in a small town in the Hungarian speaking part of Romania. For ordinary people, life in Romania in the 1980s was very hard and it could be even worse if you were a part of the Hungarian Szekler minority since the Communist government persecuted the Hungarian minority. They even made them change their Hungarian names into Ro…
 
The year 1983 was one of the most dangerous in human history. While the Cuban crisis was exceptionally dangerous and both the United States and the Soviet Union had significant nuclear arsenals in 1962, a war in 1983 would have likely ended the human race. Brian Morra was Chief of Intelligence Analysis for US Forces Japan at Yakota airbase when on …
 
In June 1934, Kim Philby met his Soviet handler, the spy Arnold Deutsch. Kim Philby was a British intelligence officer and a double agent for the Soviet Union. In 1963 he was revealed to be a member of the Cambridge Five, a spy ring that had divulged British secrets to the Soviets during World War II and in the early stages of the Cold War. The wom…
 
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