A GROUP of volunteers who were tasked with reporting nuclear blasts during the Cold War is looking to contact ex-members and their close families.

The North Wales Royal Observer Corp (ROC) Association provides a link to the ROC Benevolent Fund (now part of the RAF Benevolent Fund) - which offers financial aid to ex-serving members, and their close families.

The ROC was formed amid the rise of air power following the First World War. The Corps consisted of volunteers around the country, trained in aircraft recognition and reporting, who reported to a group control, where the reports were plotted, and forwarded on to the military.

The Corps expanded gradually, until, at the start of WW2, it covered the whole of the UK.

North Wales was covered by two groups, one based at Caernarfon Castle, and the other at Tenter’s Square, Wrexham.

During the Battle of Britain, German air raids were detected by radar, but this only looked out from the coasts, so, once they flew inland, the Observer Corps plotted them, and the tracks were passed on to the RAF, who sent their fighters up to intercept them.

So successful was the Observer Corps, that the King awarded the Corps the title 'Royal' and they became the Royal Observer Corps.

After the war, the ROC was stood down, but, with the advent of the Cold War, it was recalled, and given the additional task of nuclear reporting.

Eventually, with the advent of fast jets, the aircraft reporting task became secondary, and the nuclear reporting task became its primary objective. Hundreds of nuclear-proof underground monitoring posts, and group controls, were built, all over the UK. 

The ROC, in the event of a nuclear war breaking out, would have assessed the nuclear burst, monitored the fallout, and assisted the Home Office, and military, with much-needed data. It was the only organisation to monitor the threat of nuclear radiation for the civilian authorities to provide early warning and protection for the general public.

Wrexham became the home of 17 Group, and its nuclear-protected HQ was built at Borras Airfield, where it remained until the corps was stood down in 1991.

Rhyl Journal: The ROC's bunker in Borras.The ROC's bunker in Borras. (Image: John Liversage)

John Liversage, who lives in Corwen, is chair of the North Wales ROC Association - which meets every Monday night at the Cunliffe Arms on Jeffreys Road in Acton, Wrexham. 

John, who was a member of the ROC for 21 years, is appealing to ex-members in North Wales and their close families to come forward. 

"Next year marks the 100th anniversary of when the Observer Corps was created," he said. "It would be brilliant if we had more members to celebrate it. 

Rhyl Journal:

"At the time the ROC was stood down in 1991, we had 500 members in North Wales. But we only have 14 members of the association in North Wales.

"We provide a link to the ROC Benevolent Fund. Membership of the ROC was approximately 12,500, over the whole of the UK, but they seem to have disappeared, and not many are aware of the ROC Association, and the ROC Benevolent Fund. In these hard times, there is all manner of assistance available to them, and their children. 

"We also put on a lot of social events so it would be great for more people to get involved."

Rhyl Journal: North Wales HQ crew, early 1960sNorth Wales HQ crew, early 1960s (Image: John Liversage)

Anyone looking to join the association can do so via https://www.rocatwentytwelve.org/membership-application.html

The nuclear bunker in Borras was the Royal Observer Corps' No.17 Group HQ - covering North and Mid Wales, the Wirral, and part of North Shropshire.

It is now home to the ROC2 music production and photographic studio.

Catfish and the Bottlemen used the studio to rehearse for their gig at Glastonbury in 2015 and as a base for writing tracks for their album The Ride.