Pondero Candover Valley – The Cold War: 1947-1991
As WW2 came to a close, the victors planned the framework for post-war Europe. But Stalin had a different view to the others – and he created an Iron Curtain, separating East from West. The communist take-over of Czechoslovakia and the Blockade of Berlin were the first major confrontations in the Cold War, and led to the formations of mighty alliances: NATO in the west, and the Warsaw Pact in the east.
The Cold War spread outside Europe – to Korea, Vietnam and the Cuban missile crisis. But it was in Europe, at Check Point Charlie in Berlin, that Russian and American ground troops were involved in their one and only face-to-face confrontation during the Cold war. Much of the Cold War concerned military confrontation. But there were other spheres that played their part – such as espionage and the nuclear arms race, and the economic burden that the enormous expenditures on the positioning and maintenance forces and weapon systems placed on both sides. And, in the end, it was this expenditure that saw the cracks in the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact opening up. The end, when it came, was astonishingly quick, and hugely dramatic – and led to outcomes that were simply not envisaged.
Major General Stephen Carr-Smith served most of his military career in Germany, facing the Warsaw Pact. He was in Berlin the day the Berlin Wall went up; and was serving in NATO HQ at the end of the Cold War. He draws on that experience as he tells the story of the Cold War.
Stephen Carr-Smith was commissioned into the Royal Signals and spent 33 years in the British Army. During 1962-1982, he served 10 years in Germany at the height of the Cold War. From 1988-1995 he was serving in NATO, most of which was spent helping develop the “New NATO” after the fall of the Wall, and the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union. His last appointment was as the Deputy Director General of the NATO Communications and Information Systems Agency in Brussels (NACISA) as a Major General.
On leaving the Army in 1995, he worked for a company providing security and mine clearance services in remote and hostile countries; was the Senior Military Advisor for an operational analysis company owned by British Aerospace; and was the Chairman of a company developing opportunities to marry-up Russian technology with western finance and production.
He has also had a number of other involvements: 1996 to 2006, as the Honorary Colonel of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) – an all female, uniformed volunteer body that has supported the British Army for 100 years. He is currently a Vice President; 1997 to 2003, as a Colonel Commandant of the Royal Signals; 2003-2013, as the President of the Stragglers of Asia Cricket Club, with its origins in the Punjab in the 1920s – and, accompanied by his wife, he led tours to Sri Lanka in 2004 and to India in 2007; 2007-2013, as the Chairman of the Winchester Branch of Cancer Research UK.
Since 2007 he has been a speaker on more than 40 cruises with a number of different cruise lines – and given talks on more than 60 different historical topics. His approach is to present historical events that are geographically relevant to the particular cruise itinerary.
Pondero Candover Valley talks are held on Tuesday mornings during term time. A series saver ticket covering all talks in the Spring 2022 series is available here.
Pondero talks are run in collaboration with The Really Helpful Club.