Pre-War History of Britain and Ireland

The British Empire

The world of Fallout’s timeline has always had slight differences with our own, but the divergences were minor and in the grand scheme history progressed along the same lines. Points of significant divergence began in 1945. 1945 also happens to be when a pro-decolonisation Labour government came to power in Britain in our world, resulting in the independence of India (split into India and Pakistan) in 1947, followed by Burma, Sri Lanka, and Palestine in 1948. In the decades that followed, the British Empire of our dimension would continue a terminal decline. The last major colony to be given up was Hong Kong in 1997.

However, greed, commercialism, and unyielding patriotism are all themes emblematic of Fallout’s pre-nuclear world. We have seen that the attitudes, society, and even fashion sense of the United States in 2077, at the time the nukes fell, has been practically frozen in time ever since the 1940s.

It is reasonable to assume that these motivations were common throughout Fallout’s world. Therefore, it is unlikely that Fallout’s Britain willingly decolonised.

From this supposition, we can also hypothesise a critical divergence event: in the Fallout universe, an anti-decolonisation Conservative government came to power in 1945. The Conservatives would largely hold sway, with only occasional losses to Labour, right up until the Great War in 2077. Decolonisation was never seriously considered. The United Kingdom would remain a far more significant global power thanks to its stranglehold over its Empire. Yet the rampant consumerism and gluttony of the world’s nations, including itself, would eventually leave Britain unable to easily maintain that Empire. Costly defense and supply issues would see some territories reclaimed by past owners (such as Hong Kong) while others with less resources or tactical value would simply be abandoned to their own fates.

Although Britain had effectively lost over half of its Empire by the time the bombs fell, the Empire never officially decolonised. As such, its colonies are still listed as part of the Empire in historical records. Figuring out the exact details of which colonies were still considered British at the time of the Great War is therefore not necessary. For the purposes of patriotic propaganda that might be found on ancient terminals, or parroted by wastelanders, the rule is simple: if a country was still a British colony in the year 1945 in our world, assume that it was either still a colony in the Fallout universe or at least claimed as a colony on paper right up until the bombs fell. Those trying to piece history back together won’t know the difference.

King and Country

At the time of the Great War in 2077, the reigning monarch was King Harold II of the House of Windsor.

With tourism curtailed by the world’s severe resource problems, and the government unwilling to pay formerly agreed annuities, the fortunes of the House of Windsor had been greatly reduced over the previous century. Several properties from the Crown Estate and items from Royal Collection had been sold to help cover expenses.


Although the United Kingdom had strict gun laws, those laws became more relaxed as the nation became increasingly more consumerist, embracing the capitalist dream of its ally, the United States. As the world grew less and less safe, more people chose to arm themselves for the protection of their families. Conscription was introduced to fuel the military machine as the UK attacked other nations for oil and other precious resources and defended itself in turn. Soon young men and women throughout the nation were fully trained in the use of firearms, and even those who had resisted purchasing private firearms before would buy at least one, fearful of the day foreign boots would land on British soil.

Accordingly, there are nearly as many firearms available in the wasteland of post-nuclear Britain as there are in what remains of the United States.

Fire and Fallout

By 2077 Britain's relevance on the international stage had considerably waned. Its Empire collapsed, many of the colonies abandoned one by one so that Britain could focus more freely on supplying and defending their own shores. When the end came, Britain was only considered a threat on a local level and in any case none of the European powers were particularly keen on setting off nuclear bombs so close to home. The world's superpowers reserved most of their missiles for each other. In the end, a relatively small number of missiles were aimed at the UK, mostly targeted at the capital and manufacturing towns in the North. A handful of that number missed their targets.

Due to wind speed and direction on the day of the Great War, each missile spread fallout a great distance East-Northeast from where it landed.

  • A high yield nuke aimed at London instead fell in the Thames Estuary in the vicinity of Cliffe.
  • Another missile of similar yield landed on the shore of the Dee Estuary, spreading high levels of radiation across Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York, and far out into the North Sea.
  • A smaller yield nuke targeting Burnley instead hit near the Ponden Reservoir, spreading radiation as far North-East as Scarborough and the North Sea.
  • A second smaller nuke landed immediately North-East of Scunthorpe, catching the town in the radius of its thermal radiation burst. The fallout severely affected Hull.
  • Another nuke landed on target in Derby and nearby Nottingham was subjected to high levels of fallout. Other towns affected by the fallout included Newark-on-Trent and Lincoln.
  • Finally, a missile hit Portsmouth with the worst of the fallout reaching as far East-Northeast as Maidstone.

As a result, a large section of Northern England and parts of the Midlands were most significantly affected by the initial nukes, followed by the South-Eastern coast. But no one would escape the consequences of the Great War for long. So many missiles were fired that day that radioactive fallout spread across the world on a global scale and a period of nuclear winter began.

Map of Nuclear Impacts

The simulation below was created using NUKEMAP.


Ireland’s independence and the Partition of Ireland occurred in the 1920s before the first critical divergence and are therefore still a matter of historic fact in the world of Fallout.

Following the disbanding of the United Nations in 2052 and then the collapse of the European Commonwealth (Fallout’s version of the European Union) in 2060, the European notions began to war over the last remaining oil supplies. Ireland attempted to ally with the United Kingdom in a mutual defense pact against nearby continental nations in 2064, but were instead forcibly stripped of their resources by the greater military power, then left to fend for themselves as the British government abandoned Ireland, including Northern Ireland.

The United Kingdom made sure it was well known that one of the submarines belonging to the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons program, javelin, was ready to fire at key targets in Ireland to discourage other nations from landing there in their efforts to invade the UK. Consequently, Ireland was thereafter left alone, its people reverting to a pre-atom society thirteen years in advance of the Great War. Ultimately this proved to the advantage of those who survived, since they had long since learned to live without advanced technology.

Ireland was not considered a key target for nuclear warheads, but no nation survived the global fallout of the Great War.

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