By Lawrence Holmes
Presenter Kathy Wilshere interviews WWII observer Bill Harford as camerman Matt Mulcrone films. Note Bill’s ROC tie and blazer and no overcoat, on what was a very cold day !!
On 4 February 2010 Kathy Wilshere, the Cornwall Reporter for ITV Westcountry, and cameraman Matt Mulcrone visited Veryan Post. The post was, of course, closed for the winter and equipment had to be taken to the post especially for the visit. Nare Head can be an inhospitable place in winter and on the day of the visit the weather was dull, cold and windy. After previous days of rain the farm track to the post was very muddy and, indeed, the ground around the post was not like it was in the dry warm summer months. Fortunately the National Trust Landrover and driver were available to take people up to the post site.
This visit was different to some previous media visits, in that Kathy Wilshere wanted to interview not only Lawrence Holmes as the site volunteer but other people who had served on the post in the Cold War. First to arrive was 84 year old former Ch/Obs Bill Harford, resplendent in ROC tie and blazer and no overcoat !!! Next were former Veryan Post members Alan January and Dave McCree. Bill was the first to be interviewed and this was done at the surface with Carne Beacon, the site of the WWII Veryan Post, in the background. Bill was asked about his wartime service and the Veryan aircraft reporting post as well as his short period of service on the adjoining Mevagissey post in the Cold War period.
Lawrence Holmes was then filmed welcoming Kathy and much play was made of her getting on to, and descending, the ladder to the underground post. Alan and Dave were already underground as the cameraman Matt carefully lowered his expensive equipment down the hatchway. Matt had some difficulties in positioning lighting and camera positions in the restricted monitoring room. Lawrence was first interviewed giving an overview of the role of the ROC post and then the use of the various items of nuclear equipment like BPI, GZI and FSM. Kathy then interviewed Alan and Dave asking them what it was like to serve on the post, how did they manage on exercise and what about leaving their families in time of nuclear war.
Dave introduced an element of humour in many of his replies which brought smiles to the faces of both Kathy and Matt. Then it was up top again where Lawrence was asked about the adjoining Decoy Command bunker site and its use in WWII. He explained about the use of lights on poles and flickering lights in boxes to lure the enemy bombers to bomb the decoy instead of Falmouth. The final act was to film Kathy operating the siren – no, they can never resist this one !!
Left to right, ITV Presenter Kathy Wilshere, cameraman Matt Mulcrone and Veryan Post members Alan January and Dave McCree. Dave maintains that his ROC uniform has shrunk considerably since stand down in September 1991 !
By 1500hrs the filming was over and all the post equipment taken down. All the participants returned to the National Trust Car Park very cold and a little tired but satisfied with a job well done. The next day Lawrence e-mailed Kathy a number of old ROC photographs to illustrate what the post and decoy site looked like in WWII as well as some photos of the interviewees as they were, seemingly, many years ago ! The filming was part of a feature series called ‘Historic West’ which will be broadcast by ITV Westcountry in ‘Westcountry Tonight’ near the end of February. The broadcast will be regional and go out as far as Wiltshire.
Watch the programme with the ITV Player on the following link :- www.itv.com/westcountry-west/going-nuclear12168/