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Was Suffolk really a Soviet Union target?

PUBLISHED: 16:48 26 August 2011

Former journalist John Miller with map of the east coast of Suffolk from Southwold to Thorpeness made by the Rusian KGB

Former journalist John Miller with map of the east coast of Suffolk from Southwold to Thorpeness made by the Rusian KGB

IT gives a whole new meaning to the menace from the East.

But could this map really be a sign of the Soviet Union’s plans to target the Suffolk coast at the height of the Cold War?

Retired journalist John Miller, from Southwold, has discovered a detailed map of the area in Russian, created by the KGB for Soviet military use.

The map of the Leiston area, from Southwold to Thorpeness was published by the Soviet Ministry of Defence in 1981 using satellite images and spies on the ground.

The detailed information would have been useful for an invading army: it features the Sizewell nuclear power site, an airfield and runways northwest of Leiston, railways bridges, roads, warehouses and distances from the mapped area to Beccles, Lowestoft, Woodbridge and Saxmundham.

Unlike a recently-discovered English map of German targets in Ipswich during the second world war, it is totally transcribed phonetically into Cyrillic script.

Mr Miller, 78, a former mayor of Southwold, is the author of All Them Cornfields and Ballet in the Evening, a book about his experiences during the Cold War as a correspondent in Moscow for Reuters and the Daily Telegraph.

He has now learned that the KGB covered some 16,000 sq km and 103 UK towns and cities in their maps.

In 2007, it emerged that evidence had been gathered on Ipswich, with the location and purpose of every structure of possible military importance outlined in a map produced in 1984.

The maps were discovered after the break-up of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, which signalled the end of the Cold War – a period of political conflict between Communist states and the western world.

Mr Miller said: “It is surely a spine-chilling fact that the Soviet leadership had embarked on creating such detailed and accurate maps.

“They used satellite images, high-altitude aerial reconnaissance and spies on the ground. The Soviet military knew not only where you lived, but how to get there with their tanks and Red Army.”

The map was published at a time when Leonid Brežnev was still president of the Soviet Union, and Ronald Reagan had just been voted in as the 40th president of the United States, while relations between east and west were extremely tense.

It shows two churches and the pier in Southwold, along with the town’s two water towers; two houses named are Bulcamp Whitehouse, and Tinkers House.

Many other houses are also named in Russian on the map, which has a scale of 1:50,000 and for service use is numbered N-31-136-A.


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