Michael Webb, in front of the 'Vulcan', a bomber he worked on during the Cold War

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is evoking painful memories of the Cold War for some Nottinghamshire residents. 

On the 24th February 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine. The situation has escalated with lives lost on both sides and heavy destruction of Ukraine’s towns and cities. 

In the UK, the conflict has left many people feeling anxious and scared. The current breakdown in the UK’s relationship with Russia has revived painful memories for some Nottinghamshire people, who lived and served during the Cold War when the threat of nuclear conflict hung over Britain. 

Newark Air Museum holds a number of aircraft that flew at the time of the Cold War. These were thought to be historic artefacts by staff who work there, but now serve as constant reminders of the ongoing threat. 

Michael Webb, works as a volunteer trustee at Newark Air Museum. Now aged 77, Webb was only 18 when he joined the RAF and saw active service during the Cold War.

“I can’t sleep at the moment and I’ve never been like that.”
Michael Webb, Trustee at Newark Air Museum

He explains that because the news coverage of the war in Ukraine is so graphic, it is causing him much more anxiety than his Cold War work ever did.

“I am absolutely petrified by what’s happening in Ukraine,” says Michael.

“At 18 you’re not worried about anything. I was worried about my brothers and my Dad. But that was the only anxiety I ever had. But seeing the media cover, as it is now compared to how it was in the Cold War time, it’s much more graphic and there is much more detail. I can’t sleep at the moment because of it and I’ve never been like that.”

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, October 1961

The war in Ukraine is now highly visible and easily accessible because of its availability on social media.

This is a concern for Dawn Hazle, another museum trustee. She remembers the Cold War coverage on the television when she was a child. Back then, she found it exciting. But she feels the Ukraine war is much scarier for children nowadays, as it is much easier for them to see graphic content.

Dawn Hazle gives her opinion on the media coverage of war being too graphic

The Russian Ukraine conflict has been ongoing for 8 years. It has been over two months since the invasion and it remains unclear how the war will end. But for now it will continue to trigger painful memories for people who thought the Cold War was over and a part of history.

VIDEO: A look into why the current conflict in Ukraine is causing anxiety in a Cold War RAF Engineer