The Soviet invasion of Scotland!

Just a quickie, regarding this piece of news about Soviet maps of Scotland;

This isn’t BS. It’s just not really “news”. Not only has the very guy mentioned been making maps like these available for at least three years, but the nature and extent of Soviet mapping is well known via other sources. Most notably, the National Library of Scotland acquired a significant proportion of the maps in February 2006;

“It was decided to collect a complete set (158 sheets) of 1:100,000 maps of Scotland as this scale is not published by the Ordnance Survey. All the available town plans at 1:10,000 (Aberdeen is displayed) have been purchased, together with specimens of maps at 1:200,000 (Edinburgh area is displayed), 1:500,000 and 1:1,000,000 scales.”

Full credit to the guy for acquiring his collection, but the way this has been reported makes it seem as though this is a unique discovery, and that it’s somehow a surprise that Scotland didn’t escape the same treatment as the rest of Europe. In other words, “well, duuuuh!”.

Most importantly, the headline is sensationalised to the point of meaninglessness. These are not “Maps to Occupy Scotland”, these are standard (for the era) military intelligence maps. The fact that Scotland was mapped as thoroughly as the remainder of the UK adds nothing to our knowledge of Soviet intentions to invade. They don’t in themselves suggest a Scottish entry point, and they don’t make the threat of UK invasion any more tangible than it already was. Sure, if the balloon went up, and the Soviet Union prevailed, the very end result would be invasion of every country in Western Europe (at least). How detailed the maps were has no bearing on the reality of Soviet invasion. But given Scotland’s military industrial significance, if there was such an occupation, it would be of a nuclear wasteland. Those of us who lived through the Cold War (which is of course, most of us) were only too aware of the real threat, and that threat was nuclear, not occupation. When you find yourself living in a nuclear wasteland with most of those you care about either atomised or dying of radiation sickness, a few (or even several thousand) Soviet troops coming over the horizon in NBC gear is pretty much the last thing you’re going to be worrying about.

Have a watch of this excellent 1965 film “The War Game“. It’s not news either, but it’s more of an insight into the Cold War than the subject of this post.

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