Personal testimony of John Parker, who, at the time of Doomsday was a fifteen year old, living in Chester-le-Street with his parents and older sister. Told in 2007
I was a kid when Doomsday happened, fast asleep, it was something like 2am when the first nuke went off I was woken up by a massive light, for a fraction of a second I thought it was my sister Claire playing a prank on me and putting my bedroom light on.
But then less than a second after the flash, my bedroom window blew in, god the wind! it must’ve been hurricane force, or stronger and so, so hot, I hid under my blankets until it died down. Strangely I can’t remember any sound like an explosion, I heard stuff breaking, even our dog howling, but no explosion, no one in my family can either, maybe it was so loud our ears could cope or something.
My window faced north, so when I sat up in bed out of the broken window and tattered curtains I could see the mushroom cloud boiling over Newcastle, I knew instantly what it was, we’d been told all about it at school, they’d even been adverts on the TV.
My dad came charging into my room as I sat transfixed by the cloud getting bigger and bigger on the horizon, he grabbed me and my blankets, he never said anything to me, just grabbed me, we headed downstairs, my mum and sister were behind us. We hid under the stairs,
I would never have thought it possible for all four of us, and the dog, to squeeze into such a small space, but we did. We didn’t see the bomb that hit Sunderland, we damn well felt it though, the ground shook and some of the plaster fell onto my sister, I can still remember her moaning about that, she’d only had her hair done the day before, silly how the little things stay with you isn’t it!
We stayed under the stairs until the morning, must’ve been 10am when my dad decided to check the house out, he found that the kitchen window and the back room had hardly any damage, guess they were facing away from the blasts when they happened, anyway we left our little bomb shelter and stayed in our back room for the next five days, all we could here from outside were people moving about, not much chaos, just people moving through.
I snuck upstairs on the sixth day when Mum and Dad were asleep and looked out of my sister's bedroom window that overlooked the main road, it's an image that’ll stay with me for the rest of my life, people wandering aimlessly about and bodies everywhere, littering the road. It took me a few seconds to realise what they were, at first I thought they were bags of stuff; it was only when I looked down in our front garden that I realised.
There was a guy, I think it was a guy, dead and face up, he was so badly burned you could see all his teeth, like he had a death grin, his eyes were open looking at the sky. Luckily my dad found me then before I could see anything else.
We stayed in the house until early October. The food was starting to run out and my dad decided that it might be best if we moved on before the worst of the winter hit, I guess he was expecting a nuclear winter because that is what we'd been told by the government would happen after WW3, Mum was upset at leaving the house, it was our home after all but even she saw it was for the best. Dad decided that we should head south as Newcastle was gone, he had family in North Yorkshire, farmers in Osmotherley, so we would be ok if we could get to them, we looked it up on our road map, Dad figured it was about 45 miles, he thought it would take us three or four days to get there.
When we headed off we carried only what we needed, food mostly and some water, Dad carried his shotgun with his ammo, I was happy as I got his old service revolver, it only had four rounds but it was better than nothing, Dad made me keep it in my school lunchbox so I didn’t hurt anyone by accident. My dad had been in the army during World War Two, he’d been a Para, and fought in Normandy, so he had good survival training, stood us in good stead over then next couple of weeks.
We headed off at dawn, it was raining really heavy, and it took us nearly a day to get out of Chester-le-Street. Dad kept us off the main roads; he didn’t want us to meet anyone bad I think? We walked through the first night, wanting to get as far away from Sunderland and Newcastle as possible. Mum was struggling, she was diabetic and her insulin was starting to run out, of course she hadn’t told us, she didn’t want us to worry too much, Mum was like that.
By the second day we’d made it as far as the town of Wingate, you could see the glow of Durham to the west, still burning, during the night. Dad thought that Middlesbrough had probably been hit too, it was a big industrial area after all, of course he was wrong, but it was the right assumption to make at the time. He rerouted us to the west of Cleveland, it added another day to our journey, but like I said he wasn’t to know that Middlesbrough had been spared.
Digby, our dog, did us proud, little Cairn terrier he was. He went hunting with Dad on the third night, he got more rabbits than Dad, I still don’t know to this day if Dad was proud of the dog or just pissed that his hunting credentials had been damaged!
We camped on the outskirts of Yarm on the fourth night, if only we had known about Middlesbrough then, would’ve cut our journey shorter and Mum. Well, Mum may have lasted longer. She didn’t wake up on the fifth day. Dad decided that we should stay with her, he knew what was happening, me and my sister didn’t, we were kids after all. She died about midday on the 7th of October 1983. We buried her in a patch of woodland near a little stream; she would’ve liked the view. Dad carved her name and date of birth…..and death on a nearby tree with his penknife, and then we left, there was no time for grieving back then, it was just survival. When we buried Dad next to her in 2001, we gave them both proper headstones.
Anyway, we reached my uncle's farm on the sixth day, just before sunset. It was the first time I ever saw Dad cry when he saw his brother and their family, he cried a lot over then next couple of days, I think what had happened hit home.
Dad, me and my sister worked on the farm for many years, in the late 1990’s we began hearing of Cleveland, or the Kingdom of Cleveland as it was by then from people my uncle began trading in Crathorne. I decided that I needed to go see what was happening, I was 31 when I walked to Middlesbrough, found work down at the docks unloading fishing vessels and later I worked my way up to supervisor.
Dad died in 2001, he got cancer, not totally unexpected, the few of us that made it south were pretty well irradiated, we buried him next to Mum gave them both proper gravestones. I came back to the farm when that happened, had to look after the family, my uncle was ill as well, he died shortly after Dad. Myself, I’ve had bad lungs for a while, pretty sure it's lung cancer, docs can’t do anything so I’ve not bothered them. If it gets really bad I’ll take a long walk next winter, up onto the moors ... not bother coming back.
The family will go on. Claire, my sister got married in 1993 to a local lad, she’s got three kids and none of them have any mutations, she was worried abut that when she got pregnant the first time, but so far, so good.
John died in late 2008; he had lung cancer, just as he thought. He lives on in his sister Claire, two nephews and a niece. Survivors from the Tyne and Wear area are extremely rare, only a few hundred survivors are recorded.
Personal testimony of Mary Jones on Doomsday was 34 years old and living in Hartlepool Headland
I was woken in the early hours by a bright flash coming from out to sea, my bedroom faced the sea, I was up on the third floor so I always has a sea view, the flash was followed really quickly be my window blowing in with the strongest wind I'd ever felt, almost instantly the roof above my head began collapsing, I'm guessing that the roof was torn off by the wind, when I went back to my house months later the roof was almost totally missing. After a couple of minutes the wind subsided, when I looked out to sea I could see the mushroom cloud glowing on the horizon, the building between my house and the sea was half demolished and farther down the street buildings were on fire, as my building was fairly structurally sound I decided to gather some clothes together and make my way to my sisters place in Haswell.
I had just started to gather my clothes when I began to hear a rumbling, roaring sound, when I looked outside I could see a white wall on the dark horizon, it was glowing with the mushroom cloud behind it, it must've been 20 feet tall, it took me a few seconds to realise it was a wave, I stood transfixed as it rolled in, when it hit the sea wall it didn't stop, the building in front of me collapsed totally so did several either side of it, I heard the downstairs on my house being washed through, luckily it was open plan with patio doors at the back an large windows at the front so the wave just pushed through not doing any structural damage, otherwise I think my house would've collapsed as well.
The wave took minutes to wash in and then out, dragging all sorts of stuff back out, I can vividly remember my car passing the house, it had been washed round from the from and out to sea. While the wave washed around my house there was another flash to the east, I figured at the time it was another bomb. I waited nearly half an hour before making my way downstairs, the second floor had been flooded up to the door handle but downstairs had been trashed, nothing remained inside the house, there was my dining room table lodged in my backdoor but apart from that everything was gone, it had even stripped out my kitchen back to bare walls.
When I finally got outside into the street I was shocked with the amount of destruction, every building had been damaged in some way, many lying in ruins, some burning, some slowly collapsing to the ground, bodies lay everywhere, some living and severely injured, most were dead or close to being dead. I found my neighbour James wandering in the street, he was only wearing pajama bottoms, his house was gone, just a pile of tumbled rubble, he had a massive head injury and was bleeding very badly however he hadn't noticed as he was in shock. I made him sit down and made a makeshift bandage out of one of my jumpers, I left him after another neighbour came to help, I found James's youngest son Michael around the corner, he was in rubbish wrapped around a lamp post, he was very obviously dead. That's a sight that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I made my way to my sister's, it took nearly two hours to walk, she was so happy to see me. We sheltered at her family's house for the next three weeks before we came out, food was short to begin with but once the new government got up and running things got better.
I went back to my house in mid 1986 to see if anything could be salvaged before the houses in the area were flattened by the government and left to grow over, as well of the damage caused by the blast and the wave, the house had been ransacked and stripped of anything valuable. I found out later that I was one of the lucky ones. Of the nearly 200 people in my street I was one of 12 that survived.
Personnel Testimony of Sir Brian Clough, on the outskirts of Nottingham on DD
Brian Clough is one of the most famous pre-DD personalities to survive the Doomsday attacks, born in Middlesbrough in 1935. In 1983 the 48 year old was the manager of Nottingham Forest FC.
On Doomsday Brian was asleep at home with his wife Barbara and his two youngest children Nigel (aged 17) and Elizabeth (aged 16). His eldest son Simon (aged 19) was at a birthday party at his friends house in central Nottingham.
The first we knew knew of the attacks was the massive flash and blast wave at just after 2.30am from the detonation of a 200KT nuclear weapon in Nottingham nearly 12 miles away. i've still got my watch from that night, its frozen at that time.
The blast wave caused the front of the house to collapse trapping Elizabeth in her bedroom, luckily she slept in the bottom bunk of a bunk bed this saved her from any injury however she was trapped under a large amount of rubble. It took Nigel and me nearly ten minutes to dig her out. Once Elizabeth was free I could look around and see the damage, in the distance the mushroom cloud was still visible to the south lit up by the burning remains of Nottingham, it was only then that I thought of my son Simon, he was in Nottingham for a birthday party at his friends in central Nottingham, it was obvious he was gone, although it took several weeks for me to accept that fact.
seeing the damage to our house and the our neighbours homes we decided that it would be best to travel away from the area as quickly as possible. I took a guess that we'd been attacked by the Russians so I thought that all the major cities would've been hit so travelling south and west would be out of the question, leaving north and east the only options open to us, even north would be bad due to Sheffield and Leeds being north. After talking to my wife we decided to travel east to the coast and then travel north and try and get back to our families in Middlesbrough, even though we thought there was a good chance that Middlesbrough was also gone, we both knew on some level that our families had survived.
We got as much food and water out of the ruins of our house put several layers of clothes on and started walking, after three days we reached the coast near Skegness, we then turned north and travelled for another five days up the coast to Grimsby, we found a fishing boat abandoned nearby and after 3 hours working on the engine Nigel got it running, good mechanic that lad. At first light my family and five other people who'd travelled with us from the south travelled out into the North Sea, we reached Whitby harbour at nightfall the next day, we were surprised to find the lighthouse working, the coastguards had been using every fuel source they could to keep the generator running, when we arrived they were using Whiskey from the local pubs.
The locals took us in, fed and watered us. They explained that they'd seen four flashes on Doomsday, one to the south west which they thought was York, two to the west which they thought was Fylingdales early warning station, and one to the north which had brought a wave into the harbour damaging several boats, which they thought had been Hartlepool power station or Middlesbrough.
We stayed in Whitby over that winter, knowing that walking over the moors in October or November was a death sentence, particularly with the expected Nuclear winter on the way, so in early April myself and Nigel decided to walk home, Barbara and Elizabeth stayed in Whitby, stories of wandering bands of reavers robbing and killing people had begun to circulate and I wasn't going to risk all my family on a trip to Middlesbrough. We set off at daybreak, we thought it would take maybe a full day to walk so we took camping gear, decided to break the journey and camp near Scaling dam and travel on the next day to Middlesbrough. Imagine our surprise when we reached Birk Brow and got our first view of the Tees Valley and saw no visable damage, there was smoke rising from various places but these were in parks not in the built up areas, it turned out later to be funeral pires burning.
We arrived at my mum's house in Middlesbrough just after midday on the 5th of April 1984, Mum nearly had a heart attack when she opened the door to find me and Nigel on her doorstep, we were dirty and unshaven but she nearly killed us with the hug she gave me and Nigel, she didn't let go of me for nearly an hour. She'd thought we'd all died on Doomsday, understandable really.
After staying the night at Mums and telling the remaining family about our travels we headed back to Whitby with my three nephews to get Barbara and Elizabeth. We set up home two doors down from Mum in a house where the owners had died due to the radiation.
A year after we arrived in Middlesbrough I was working on the patch of allotment land I'd been given in the old Albert Park to grow food on with Nigel, when a young lad from down the road walked up to me and asked if i knew my son was home, I pointed to Nigel and told this young lad that Nigel was my only son, to which he said, what about Simon, he's just turned up at your mum's, I swear I could've broken the 100 yard dash record getting home, followed by Nigel.
I broke the front door down when I got there because I had left my key at the allotment, got a good shouting at of my mum for that later, but sure enough sat in the front room with Barbara clinging to him like he was going to vanish was my eldest Simon, nearly 21 years old now he looked closer to 30 and even had some grey hairs, but most definitely my son.
After i'd got my breath back Simon told us all how on Doomsday he'd had a fight with his girlfriend at his friends birthday party and stormed out, he'd been halfway home in a taxi when the bomb fell, by the time he'd walked the remaining five miles home we'd all gone, we must've missed him by a couple of hours at the most, like us he'd walked east to the coast and wound up in Boston in Lincolnshire, he'd lived there for a year before he got on a fishing boat and headed north with a few friends to explore and find more survivors, as luck would have it he'd pulled into Whitby the week before and heard that we'd survived in the local pub what we'd stayed in while we'd been in Whitby.
in 1996 several people approached me to coach my former football club Middlesbrough FC at Ayresome Park and I jumped at the chance, we've done quite well and I helped set up the Cleveland Football Association, because of this Queen Anne II gave me a knighthood for services to sports in 1998. Recently I coached the Cleveland national side in the World cup, we got to the Quarter finals, not bad really.
Personal Testimony of Paul Rodgers, on the outskirts of Middlesbrough on DD
Paul Rodgers was fairly famous globally before DD, he was the lead singer of both the bands Free and Bad Company. On DD he and his young family were taking a quick break visiting family in Middlesbrough before he headed back to America to promote after his first solo album Cut Loose, however the album had been badly received by music critics and was not expected to do well on its release in October '83 - a release that never happened.
I was sleeping in the hotel on the southern outskirts of Middlesbrough when the first bomb blew, the flash woke me up followed by the shock wave. when I looked north I could see the mushroom cloud rising over the trees on the horizon, I knew what it was and I knew what was happening, i grabbed my wife Machiko and my son Steve and daughter Jasmine and headed downstairs. The hotel staff were amazing, so .... dignified, no panic or fear showed on their faces, they just calmly showed all the guests to the hotel's wine cellar.
We all were expecting another bomb, probably aimed at Middlesbrough due to the industry based there, so when we felt the ground shake we thought that the Boro had gone, many were surprised on how little damage happened in the cellar, some plaster fell off the ceiling and all the wine bottles all clanked together, but none broke. We didn't know that the bomb had gone off course and hit the Moors to the east.
In total there were 27 of us in the cellar, 21 guests and six of the night staff. An hour after the second blast an older gentleman stood and walked over to the wine racks, holding a candle up he looked over each bottle in turn before picking one, he turned to the remaining people in the cellar and announced, This is a 1947 Chateau Faurie de Souchard, this is a very good red wine, would everyone like to join me in a toast
We all took up his offer and before we drank he stood to attention and said A toast, to Queen and Country! May God have mercy on all our souls for what has occurred tonight! and we all drank. To be fair the wine was great, although my wife, who wasn't a big wine drinker, didn't like it very much and the kids thought it was disgusting!
We stayed in the cellar for four days, slowly working through the wine, port and anything else we could find to drink. On the fifth day a group of staff decided to go up to the kitchen to find some food as the children and the older members of the group had begun to suffer. Needless to say we were pleasantly surprised when they returned to say that there had been little damage to the hotel and the grounds as far as they could see and that it would probably be safe to get out of the cellar. I don't think I've ever been that happy to get out of the place. It had begun to smell over the past day or so as cellars usually don't have bathroom facilities!
A few of the men, me included, decided on the morning of the eighth day to head out and explore the grounds, I knew from my youth that about half and hour walk away there was a ridge to the north that overlooked Middlesbrough and I decided to make my way there to see the damage done to my home town.
The hotel night manager came with me as he also came from Middlesbrough, Imagine the look an our faces when we reached the top of the hill to find Middlesbrough sat there in the morning light looking perfect and intact.
We returned to the hotel to tell the rest. One of the other scout groups had bumped into a local farmer who'd offered them some eggs and vegetables from his garden.
After talking to the rest of the group we decided that we should stay in the hotel for as long as possible, with the hope that the UK government had survived and would send help. It seems a little silly looking back now that we thought that they had survived, but we had to hold out hope however small.
In the end we stayed in the hotel over the winter, we finished the rest of the wine off at new year, many of the people had decided that in the spring they would try and get home, for myself it would be easy, we were only four hours walk away from my mother's, some people held out hope because their families lived far away from major towns, many though had family in major metropolitan areas like London and Birmingham, we all knew, even them I think, that there was no hope as those cities would've been a major target for the Soviets.
On the 22nd April 1984 my wife, my children and I started walking for Middlesbrough. We reached my mother's at midday on the 22nd and she was overjoyed to see us all safe and well, if not a little thin. After settling for a week or so I volunteered into the local allotment tenders group to help grow fruit and vegetables for the local community. After the establishment of the Kingdom of Cleveland my family moved out of the town and into one of the abandoned farmsteads in lower Teesdale. My standing in the allotment group got me the farm.
My son Steve and his wife looks after the farm now because in 2005 I ran for Parliament for the first time. I honestly didn't think I would win my local constituency seat, so when I won with 83% of the vote I was totally amazed. I'm a Royalist under PM Mallon. In 2007 my darling wife died due to cancer, as you can expect it's not that unusual around here. That last thing she said to me was to stay an MP and fight for my beliefs.
I won my second election in 2010 with a reduced majority of 68%. I often joke with the PM that I have a greater majority that he has in his constituency! I'm planning to stand in the next election in 2015, but that'll be my last, I'll be in my mid 60's by then. I intend to retire to my farm and look after my five grandchildren in peace.