Zero Option was the name given to the top secret plan to move the government out of London if it had to. Zero Option meant that London had become ungovernable and that another safe location was needed.
The shock of the V1 was compounded by the V2. Whereas the V1 could be destroyed in flight, the V2 could not. The first that anyone knew about a V2 was when it had landed. Scientists warned Churchill’s government that London would be flattened within weeks, people would be on the streets, travel would be impossible – and the city would be beyond government.
As early as spring 1940, the government had set up a secret base in north-west London – but well away from the city’s centre. Here, the government had set-up ‘Paddock’ – a top secret underground bombproof centre built on two floors with five feet of reinforced concrete between each floor. ‘Paddock’ was built to withstand the heaviest of bombs and a gas attack. It was visited by Winston Churchill in September 1940 who said:
“I think Paddock should be broken in”.
At that particular time, many did fear a German invasion and ‘Operation Sealion’ was gathering pace on the coastline of France. However, the failure of the Germans to defeat the RAF in the Battle of Britain and the postponement of ‘Sealion’ meant that ‘Paddock’ was never used in 1940/41. It was also never used during the V2 attacks because of its lack of decent living quarters and because the nightmare scenario portrayed by government scientists never occurred.
If the worst scenario had occurred, then the government would have moved out of London altogether and based itself in Worcestershire. This move would have been in response to the ‘Black Move’ – the codename for the highest level of danger to the government which required it to move to safety.