In remembrance of those who did not make it this far and in support of those who have
CAMPAIGN The Journal of the BNTVA Registered Charity Number 1131134 TM
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BNTVA New Memorial at the NMA
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The Chaplain writes
Our New Memorial A large gathering of the BNTVA Family gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum on 3rd October for the Dedication of the new Memorial. It is a great improvement on the earlier, simpler monument. The Chief Executive of the NMA congratulated me on conducting the shortest Act of Worship they have ever had at the Arboretum! Nevertheless, it was moving in the extreme, assisted by the flawless of the Last Post and Reveille. The ceremony was followed by an excellent buffet lunch and very impressive presentations by our Chairman, Nige Heaps and Jeff Liddiatt, both of whom spoke of the importance of keeping the message of the contribution to our nationâ€™s history and defence of the atomic tests and those who participated. Such family gatherings are very important, and keep alive the spirit of comradeship and healthy remembering which are at the heart of associations like ours. It was good to meet so many widows and family members as well as old friends.
This is the time of year when we have shared in the nationâ€™s remembrance, but we know that to remember is to pay tribute all through the year. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and blessed Christmas and as happy a New Year as is possible in these challenging times.
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Cutting the Stone
On the 3rd of October at the National Memorial Arboretum, Members and friends of the Association gathered to mark the National Atomic Veterans Awareness Day (NAVAD) and to witness the unveiling of our new memorial stone. The weather was very kind to us and umbrellas were left in our vehicles.
Natural Cut Stone Ltd role in the project was the supply and cutting of the stone for the new BNTVA memorial.
The very reverend Nicholas Frayling (BNVA Chaplain) led the service and Bob Smith performed the unveiling following which was a laying of the special ForgetMe-Not flower tributes. The Forget-Me-Not has become a permanent symbol of NAVAD and represents a move away from the pomp and ceremony of the traditional military based act of remembrance to a more personal one where people can remember family friends and loved ones who have passed having given benefit to the Nation by working with or alongside radio active material. We want to create a national event using the flower where people lay them on the many memorials to Atomic Service personnel and workers across the country on NAVAD. These tributes are available to purchase from the BNTVA for a donation over £3.50.
The new memorial stone contains the plaque from the old memorial and has been positioned prominently in front of our section of the NMA plot making it much easier to find. Shells from the original monument have also been affixed to the plinth of the new memorial. The memorial stone was selected by Derek Heaps as one of his final tasks for the Association before he passed away this year and a collection was held at his funeral where donations to the stone were made. A buffet lunch reception was provided and Nigel Heaps, our Chair gave a presentation launching our Recognition Campaign (more elsewhere in this edition). This was exceptionally well received and as a result despite the sombre nature of the day our visitors left on an upbeat note.
This involved going to the quarry selecting the raw boulder ranging from 3-8ton in weight and organising them being brought to the production works in Calverton, Nottingham. This is where Jamie and Nige came to view the rocks and make their selection. Upon this selection we marked out the cut I was to make At confirming to go ahead the rock was placed on Natural Cut Stone’s primary saw and the cuts were made. This was then accompanied by cutting a matching block into the paving slabs and kerb stones in the same matching Ancaster Limestone.
Once this was complete the cut stone was passed to our mason whom sanded and honed the smooth finish to these natural stones. Once complete all items were stacked, packed and packaged ready for the delivery. This involve a large lorry with onboard Hiab type crane mounted to the lorry to give the ability to lift the heavy stone into situ once arrived on site and off load the remaining item safely to the ground
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AVEN Conference 2012 When Jean-Luc Sans, the president of the Association des Vétérans des Essais Nucléaires (AVEN) and his colleague Yann Cambon visited our Conference in Bournemouth earlier this year a new chapter in the life of both associations began. Between the 25th and 28th of October delegates from the BNTVA were invited to attend the AVEN Conference in Lormont, Bordeaux, France. Myself, Jeff Lidiatt and Don James represented the BNTVA with Christine James providing a very useful translation service.
of nuclear testing and currently, in collaboration with an international network of experts, is performing lobbyist actions in a fresh direction: to come up with a set of international standards to parse the real consequences of nuclear weapons testing.
From the moment we arrived we were welcomed and escorted by Yann Cambon, who was our guide for the entire event. Special thanks must be made to Yann for the great lengths he went to on our behalf.
Mr John Doom of the Maòhi Protestant Church (French Polynesia) is currently national co-ordinator of the Association of the Former Nuclear Site Workers of Moruroa based in Tahiti. John has an amazing personality that seems to fill any room he enters and his presentation was warmly received by the conference.
During the main Conference we listened to presentations from an interesting range of contributors, the most notable ones were: Bruno Barrillot a ‘Nuclear-Free Future Award laureate’ and former Director of “Center for Documentation and Research on Peace and Conflict” (CDRPC) Bruno has worked tirelessly with the people of Polynesia to uncover the true cost
Dr Patrick Demaison, pharmacologist and epidemiologist. Professor Bernard RIO specialist in blood diseases and cancers. Jean françois Grenot Clinic coordinator of the “OBSIVEN” Observatory.
Don parading the standard
Jean Francois gave a very interesting presentation on the work conducted by Dr. Valatx in to the health of French Veterans and their descendents. Obsiven are further developing this work which is achievable in France as unlike the UK their nuclear testing programme continued right up to 1996. This work has great ramifications for veterans in the UK. Jean Touzeau The Mayor of Lormont spoke about hosting the AVEN Conference in his town, previously Lormont had been very active in supporting the Asbestosis campaign and now they felt honoured to be helping AVEN with their work. There were also representatives from other French Veterans organisations who pledged messages of support to AVEN.
On the Saturday morning Don paraded the standard at the front of the memorial parade where The AVEN President, the Mayor of Lormont and I laid floral tributes at the local war memorial. We were exceptionally well received, Jeff spoke about the British tests and the formation of the BNTVA and I gave a presentation on our recent evolution, latest achievements and plans for the future. We were the only speakers to receive standing ovations during the entire event, clearly a mark of appreciation and understanding from our French colleagues. Thanks to the help of Christine and Marie-Pierre I even managed to award Jean-Luc Sans and Yann Cambon (Their delegation to our 2012 Conference) honorary BNTVA status in French without sounding like an extra from ‘Allo ‘Allo - this was highly appreciated by the conference and an achievement I was proud to make.
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A French perspective Members who came to our 2012 Conference in Bournemouth met both the AVEN President Jean-Luc Sans and one of their representatives Yann Cambon. When we were invited to the AVEN conference in October Yann was our companion and guide for the whole event. One of the great things to come from our relationship with AVEN is the sharing of veterans stories, in the first of these Yann describes his experiences of the French tests.
We have made many interesting connections from individual members with stories to tell through film makers to scientists conducting studies in to health problems of French veterans. Over the coming issues of our Journal we will begin to share some of these stories with you. It was amazing to find they are having the same arguments, problems and experiences with their government as we have gone through with ours. I am sure our members will be inspired by their tales and the similarities we share.
In return we have given them alternative approaches to addressing the needs of their members, which they seized upon with great interest. We have also granted the use of the Forget-Me-Not logo and they are working to institute the NAVAD concept within France. We have now established a firm bridge between our two organisations, we are sharing information and ideas. We are certainly looking forward to their delegation attending our 2013 conference in Coventry, where we know you will welcome them as warmly as they did us.
As a photographer in the French air and sea forces working with SMSR (Service mixte de sécurité radiologique, “department for radiological security”), l made pictures of 13 atmospheric tests during the series of French tests in the Pacific in 1970 and 1971. I shot those pictures from the Tureia Atoll where I was based. This atoll is located about 110 km North-Northeast of Mururoa. I first came to Tureia on April 23rd 1970 and left on August 17th 1970 after I had witnessed eight atmospheric tests. In spite of my position as a photographer with SMSR, no particular information had been given to me as far as radiological security was concerned. We didn’t have individual dosimeter and I never went through any medical, dosimetric or gamma-ray checks, before, during or after staying on the atoll. I never saw anyone having a dosimeter with them.
Work clothes were a bathing trunk and a pair of special glasses against the flash of the nuclear blast during tests for those who worked on the atoll. I came to Tureia for the second time on 11 May 1971 and left on 20 August 1971 after having witnessed five atmospheric test performed from Mururoa. In preparation for the tests, I used to go in a Boston Whaler to the far end of the lagoon in order to set up my photo equipment on a concrete plate that had been put there for this purpose.
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I could use a radio, a pair of glasses that protected me from the nuclear flash as well as orange overalls that was kept sealed in a plastic bag and that I was only supposed to use when I was ordered to. I was therefore working in my bathing trunks. The test dubbed “Encelade” from 12 June 1971 contaminated us strongly. The winds had changed directions during the day and in the end of the afternoon it started to rain. This was highly radioactive rain. The alarm of the SMSR laboratory suddenly went off at the beginning of the evening. It was already dark. My superior Daniel Menn, who was also from the sea forces working with SMSR, gave me the order to rush out to the laboratory. I was wearing a shortsleeved shirt and shorts. On this evening, Daniel Menn manipulated buttons in order to keep the level as low as possible, but it was no use: the alarm wouldn’t stop. He then decided to unplug the alarm. Very soon, instructions were given “not to talk to anyone about it”. On the following day, children were playing on all fours in the corals; soldiers were having a shower and cleaning their teeth with contaminated water from the rain water tank. Even after the “Encelade” test, I never saw anyone on the atoll using a counter. I only noticed that on the following days, daily samplings of plants, sea-shells and fish were
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being taken. For us, life was going on as if nothing had happened. We fished fish and lobsters from the reef and grilled them on the beach with rests of coconuts whose copra had been removed. On the Tureia Atoll, there was a small community of about 15 Polynesians, about 30 French troops and about 10 civilians. Tureia was contaminated by 32 atmospheric tests out of 46. I heard about it for the first time only 32 years later. There were 10 contaminating tests before I came and 10 during the time I stayed there. I think to myself: until 1945, there was cannon fodder and after that there was neutron fodder. This is modernism. Yann Cambon Photographer in the French air and sea forces working with SMSR
Branches become BNTVA Supporters Groups Since the BNTVA became a Registered Charity the position of Branches and their relationship to the organisation has been the cause of much confusion both inside and outside the organisation. Essentially when we took up charitable status the branches opted for independent autonomy outside the BNTVA. With the launch of our Recognition Campaign we have reviewed our public face and to continue the dynamic development of the BNTVA, protecting the wider body of members plus the mandated work the organisation is engaged in upon; The Board of Trustees has decided that Branches should no longer use the heraldic crest as granted to the BNTVA. Despite the fact that only a small percentage of our members are involved in Branches, it is evident they have a clear role assisting to raise awareness and enhance communication. This is support that we do appreciate and support we do not want to loose. To this end we have commissioned a unique logo and documentation that clearly defines status and role. Further to this Branches will now be known as BNTVA Supporters Groups. A range of letterheads and business card designs have been designed. The licensing of these products will be strictly in accord with any direction or condition imposed by the BNTVA Board of Trustees. All branded items must bear the disclaimer “The views and activities of this supporters group or the bearer of this card are not necessarily those of the BNTVA
charity, For more information please contact the BNTVA at BM5657 London WC1N 3XX or Tel 0208 144 3080 We will create bespoke letter headings and business cards and return address labels for both the supporters groups and individuals on request and send them via email in a format that can be directly uploaded to vistaprint. The vistaprint service offers quality products at discounted prices allowing the client the ability to procure the right quantity of product at the right price, they also offer very good discounts on alternate items and repeat business. Permission has not been removed from the use of the heraldic crest upon Parade Banners, Casket Drapes and other ceremonial regalia. We fully support the continued use and display on these items. The effective date for the cessation of the use of the current BNTVA branding is 1st January 2013, This will allow time for provisioning the new brand.
(name of branch here)
Supporters Branch Supporting the work of the BNTVA Charity
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At the same time the BNTVA has watched our veteran members live daily with physical pain and mental anguish. The time is now for the Nation to act and recognise the debt owed to its citizens for their service in unique and difficult conditions. We believe the reasonable and realistic response of the Nation should be made in three areas:
Between 1952 and 1967, in the largest Tri-Service operation since the D-Day landings, over 20,000 servicemen participated in British Nuclear Weapons Tests. The development of these superweapons bought our place at the world superpower table. The cost in human terms has never been fully calculated nor appreciated, in the blinding light of the bombs a shadow was cast across the lives of so many people. The 2011 British Nuclear Test Veterans Health Needs Audit shows that daunting shadow still hangs over the Veterans. 75% were either certain or thought it possible the tests had damaged their health. Ultimately 84% of veterans believe their main health condition was caused by radiation. A recently released study by Jean-Louis Valatx of 1800 French Nuclear Veterans shows 22.8% of their children with chronic illness
and 13.4% of children with congenital anomalies. In the UK 35% of Nuclear Test Veterans suffer from depression or anxiety. Almost every veteran has gone through their lives wondering if each new condition they develop is because of the tests, looking at the illness and mortality of their children and asking is it because of the tests. Above all, the feeling of dread every time one of their descendents has a child. This is the human cost above and beyond the suffering of physical conditions, which may or may not have been caused by the tests. This is the very real, very tangible mental anguish directly attributable to the tests that our veterans have faced every day since their return. Litigation action by other veterans representatives has seen concentration on exposure and liability paraded through our courts without result.
• Official recognition by the Prime Minister of the contribution to the development of the British nuclear deterrent and the resulting significant contribution to world peace made possible by the service achievements of our Nuclear Test Veterans. • The placing of £25 million in a Benevolent Fund in recognition of service and the subsequent years of anxiety experienced by the Veterans, this fund will be jointly administered by the BNTVA and other Ex-Service organisations to alleviate need, help with treatment, pay for care and enhance wellbeing for those Veterans and their descendents in need. • The formal recognition by the Nation of the contribution and the uniqueness of service conditions experienced in the form of a separate medal or award available to be bestowed on any British Service Veteran who participated in the British nuclear test programme.
Veterans in the United States receive some £47,800 with a further £47,800 for any secondary attributable illness. Previous Veterans Ministers have stated this is because the USA has no free medical service however all US Service personnel have access to free healthcare provision. Canada pays over £15,200 in addition to other monies from Pensions and Compensation legislation. Canada has a free healthcare service very similar to Britain. Canadian Veterans are also eligible for this payment when they served at the British Tests alongside our unrecognised Veterans. The tiny Isle of Man even makes an ex-gratia tax free payment of £8,000 to any resident who is a Veteran of the British Nuclear Tests. The sum of £25 million in recognition only represents some £6,000 per surviving Veteran, which in itself is far short of the funds made available to the Veterans of our allies however, with this funding we could make a real difference to the lives of our Veterans and their families, a difference that would let them know that the Nation acknowledges not only their contribution and sacrifice but the continued mental and physical problems they have to live with. Additionally such a fund would serve as a core element of the charitable provision of Education, Research and Support for all matters relating to people who have worked with or alongside radioactive material for the benefit of this Nation.
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Have you ever wanted to trace an old mate from your time in the Services during the tests?
entertainment in the evenings and which is more contained for our group of veterans. Also parking has to be good. I will go for early October but, if dates are already taken for 2013, then it will be 2014.”
Of course you have - and more often than not you’ve tried and failed. That’s not surprising for as many as 20,000 men (and women) are said to have taken part. Bearing in mind the passage of years - and that the Good Lord, together with the ingest of radiation, has taken some of us the likelihood of success is slim indeed. RAF regular Lionel Garratt and two lovelies
However, one possible chance of your meeting up after all those years comes with a biennial reunion of nuclear test veterans organised by Worthing-based Jim Cooper. It was back in 1991 when Jim, a Royal Engineer who served on Kiritimati throughout 1958 and who experienced the horrendous detonations of Britain’s final five nuclear fission tests, decided to form a national gathering open to all from the three services and support personnel who took part at any test site. First begun in 1994 and since held mostly at Sand Bay, Weston Super Mare, the 4-day (3 night) get-together unites ex-servicemen and their wives in a common bond of comradeship which is hard to surpass. This year, and for the second time a departure from Sand Bay, Jim chose the imposing Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool as the half board, endAugust venue with visits to the city’s magnificent cathedrals
Cathedral of Christ the King
Whether guys met up with their nuclear test buddies at Liverpool after such a long time is not clear but one thing is sure - the reunion was welcomed by all. Expectations may not have been totally fulfilled but there’s always a next time.
John Lennon’s statue outside the Cavern
(one irreverently named by some Scousers as ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’!), the Walker Art Gallery, ancient Albert Dock’s quaint conversion to a shopper’s dream and the worldfamous Cavern night-spot in Matthew Street appealing to many. 180 attended from all parts of the UK, enjoying good food, great camaraderie and a Gala dinner and dance evening fronted by The Rockits, a five-piece guitar-playing combo featuring hits from the 60s and 70s.
“I never know how many people taking part are BNTVA members because I have always organised the reunions as a non-political event,” continued Jim, “so I do not enquire on that score. My aim has always been just to hope that during these reunions veterans will meet up with someone they knew all those years ago.”
Jim and Gloria Cooper ‘strut their stuff’
“The date of the next reunion is unknown at the moment,” said Jim. “I feel that the veterans may like to have it yearly now as we are all getting older and of course the general health of the veterans does lessen. I will be looking at perhaps Warner’s Leisure Centres and the like, somewhere which offers more activities during the day, still further
If you were at any test site, then do not miss the chance of meeting an old pal or making new ones, too. Lodge an early interest for the future with Jim Cooper either on tel.01903 533768 or e-mail email@example.com Ron Taylor Royal Engineers, 73 Christmas Island Squadron, 1958
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BNTVA Contact Details
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Registered Charity Number 1131134
This is the only correspondence address and telephone number for the Association. BNTVA BM 5657 LONDON WC1N 3XX
24 Hour Call Back Service
0208 144 3080
National Chairman Nigel Heaps Email firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: nigel.heaps Tel: 0780 7268016 Blackberry message ID 25DFA01C
Operations Manager Jeff Liddiatt Email email@example.com Tel: 0780 7268041 Blackberry message ID 25F9CC08
Financial Controller Ian Greenhalgh LLB Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chaplain The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling BA, LLD Dean of Chichester
Become a Trustee
â€“ Have you got what we need? If you feel you wish to become a trustee and have something to offer the BNTVA then please request an application package from the Chairman, Nigel Heaps. All applications will be considered fully and fairly by the Board of Trustees. Please remember that in 2013 all the trustees appointed when the Association became Charity will step down. Some of these trustees will be retiring from the board permanently. The time is NOW for new trustees to step forward so, if you are interested or you think you know someone who would make a good trustee please contact the Chairman.
Trustee Lisa Bainbridge
Trustee Ian Hall
Trustee Stephen Evans
Trustee and Campaign Editor Steve Bexon
London Events Organiser & Trustee Don James Email email@example.com
Archive Administrator & Trustee Doug Hern Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trustee Fred Stellard Email email@example.com
Media Representative Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Round the world in 5 Months (Aug-Dec 1956). In the RAF Never volunteer for anything. When some one said would you like to go to Australia? I am 20 years old and want to see the world, the only answer was “yes please.” show us the Statue of Liberty and on to see the Empire State Building also on the way he made a detour to the Grand Canyon.
We then flew T.A.A to Adelaide in South Australia and straight on from there up to Maralinga. The last part of the journey was in a Dakota DC3, today you pay a lot of money for a flight in one of these aircraft.
San Francisco was a dream come true, we had a 7-day stop over because of a faulty aircraft. Money was very short and we were put into the Clift Hotel (I think) and my room was on the 31st floor, the view was superb. At the end of 7 days we had to move on. This time fly to Sydney via Honolulu, Canton, Fiji and then Sydney.
At Maralinga, our accommodation was to be under canvas. It had not rained there for 25 years, then down came the rain, I think it was 25 years worth in one go. We saw a lot of boffins that cam to look at very rare plants and things that are only seen after the rains.
I had hoped to meet my brother at Sydney airport, we had not seen each other for over 5 years we met and it was a good reunion and a photograph was taken and sent home.
R.A.F. Westerzoyland was a camp where we were to get our tropical kit and have our jabs and medical checks. I was picked to fly to Australia via civilian airways BOAC to New York a one hour stop over was not enough time to see the big city. We were on a charter flight and captain got the ok to do a circuit and
We are all here to take part in nuclear testing. It is in the form of four atomic bombs. My job was to refuel the aircraft and I was in charge of the tanker pool. Any time that was spare was spent driving to the nearest railhead called Watson, to collect water about a 60 mile round trip. On the route was a blowhole, cold air came up and sounded like the sea, we used to sit with our feet in the hole to cool down. The air pressure could make a handkerchief stand on end, yet we were 250 mile from the sea? The first bomb was to be on a tower, the weather had to be perfect so each day we would
fuel the aircraft starting at about 4am. At about 8am we would be told that it was cancelled. We would then get the stand down an defuel the aircraft. This continued for 15 days till at last big bang number one was away. We had to keep the aircraft full so they could keep track of the cloud, this kept us busy for quite a few days; the most important part of my duty was to refuel the Canberra bombers that flew into the atomic cloud. This now gives me cause to worry, my protective clothing was a pair of white overalls. I had to take off all my clothing and put on the overalls. My tanker was so low on fuel so I had to go to the fuel depot to fill up but there was no way I could take it out of the compound as it was too hot. The word used to say it was radioactive but I still drove it in my overalls. I got another tanker to come along to transfer my load to it, this time the protection was a wire fence. When the flights were over, the fire section washed my tanker and the Canberra bombers. The engines were taken out and left in the desert, they were very hot. I often wonder if the mechanics are still alive? De-contamination was to go into a shower room take off the white overalls and have a good shower, my hair was difficult to get clean as we didn’t wear any hats or protection. There was a machine that cleaned your hands and nails as we hadn’t worn gloves. I think we were exposed to far too much radiation but no record of this is available.
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I did go to the MOD and the R.A.F. in 1983 to see if I could have a check up but like many others they didn’t want to know anything about it and told me to visit my own doctor. This I did and he was very understanding and to help settle my mind arranged a blood test and found nothing wrong. I would like to have further tests but I think I’m in good health for a 76 year old.
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we all turned our backs to the bombsite, hands in front of eyes and as the flash came you could see through them with your back to the flash. We could then turn around to see bush between us and the bomb that shone so bright it could be seen 600 miles away. The time factors are not clear now but after the light it seemed to go very dark as kt would if you shone a torch into your eyes and then off. Then came the bang, the heat, and then the blast. I for one thought the end of the world would be like this. There was quite a bit of panic as we were not sure what to expect. Soon after this we started to close down. We all flew back to Adelaide with a few days off before we went to the
Between the bombs we flew in helicopters to check the area for any Aboriginal who may wander near the bombsite. It was the first time I saw the bombsite from the air, it is a sight I will never forget.
the tarmac beside the control tower to watch this bomb. We saw the Valiant fly over the bombsite and the bomb leave the aircraft and it looked very large. Half way down we had to turn our backs to the bombsite and put our hands over our eyes. After the bang it was back to work.
Bomb no. 2 was a few days later and on the ground. It was said to be a much smaller bomb, it still sent a large cloud of dust into the sky. Rockets were fired into the cloud to track the shock waves.
We were told it was a direct hit as were all the practice bombs. This bomb was called Red Beard. All up weight 2000Ibs (ref Aldermaston, keeping the peace). It was dropped from 32,000ft.
Bomb no. 3, I thought was the most exciting bomb and yet the most hard work. It was dropped by Valiant bomber that practiced with a lot of flying which meant a lot of refuelling. All 3 tankers were on the go all day. We stood on
Bomb no. 4, this was early in the morning and still very dark as we went to one of the forward areas. We didn’t have a clue as what was going to happen. We we all put in a line across the desert. The countdown began and
docks to board SS Orontes on the 19th of November with a promise to be home for Christmas. We docked in Tilbury on the 21st December. The trip home could be another story but 500 service men make for a good time and with a payday every Thursday, it was a great trip home. We were home for Christmas with a suntan. So thanks to the RAF. Round the world in 5 months! The only after effect is I now glow in the Dark! 4138231 CPL. Evans E.B (TED)
Montebello Islands 3 October 1952. We sailed fromPortsmouth on the midnight tide, HMS Narvik and HMS Zeebrugge, headed for Australia. We didn’t know what we were sailing away to do. We asked questions but didn’t get an answer. It wasn’t until we arrived in Fremantle that we were told we were going up to the Montebellos to build a nuclear testing facility. When we got there, we started building big concrete blockhouses, 12ft square, with 12in-thick walls. We built them in rows of three, like soldiers in line, about a dozen of them, going back from where the blast was set to be. We put up a camera tower on one of the islands, Hermite Island, and the bomb was let off in the bay at Trimouille. It had
been placed inside HMS Plym in about 20ft of water and went off just a few feet beneath her waterline. She’d been sailed out with part of the bomb (the triggers were flown out) for this purpose, alongside HMS Tracker, which was to be our decontamination ship. The day before the blast, the Narvik and all the other ships moved out of the bay to
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six miles away, where we dropped anchor again. We were told the detonation would happen next morning, and given our instructions: form up on deck, turn our backs to the islands, cover our eyes and listen to the countdown – from 10 to zero, when the bomb would be detonated, then back up to 10. On that last number, we were to turn around again and see what we could see. And what we saw was this huge cloud, it was massive, so big I thought the blast had taken the islands with it. Next we felt the shockwaves, a very hot wind, and that really rocked the boat. Then the cloud started to disperse and everything settled down. Next day, we sailed back into the bay where the Plym had been, each of us issued with a big overall with double cuffs below the knees and elbows, rubber gloves and boots, a hat and a gas mask. And a dosimeter to measure our personal exposure to radiation. We were taken to the beach and could see the devastation the blast had caused on the structures we’d built – the first two rows were non-existent. They’d vaporised. But gradually as you worked back, the damage lessened, until the final row, which you could see had once been blockhouses. We had a deadline of 20 minutes, to get in and tidy up the aircraft parts we’d installed for testing, but it was very hard work in the Australian sun, in a gas mask and rubberised overalls!
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It was very uncomfortable and took much longer than planned. We came out two hours later.
Colin Jones RAF SAC Meteorologist
We were taken back to the decontamination ship, where we were told to strip off. All the equipment we’d used on the island was deposited into 44-gallon drums, which were concreted in and sunk on the high seas when we sailed home.
My name is Colin Jones I served as an RAF SAC Meteorologist for my National Service. After training in upper air observations as 5045188 SAC Jones I flew to Christmas Island in February 1958 to prepare for the April 1958 Hydrogen Bomb test.
Our personal decontam took eight hours. We were hosed and scrubbed down, we washed ourselves with some type of potassium, then another shower, then over to these machines, hands in one, feet in another…They’d run Geiger counters over us, and say, ‘you’re not clean enough – go back and have another shower!’ A lot of people didn’t go in wearing the specialist gear we had. They went in with just shirts, boots and a hat. We were at Ground Zero, the day after the blast, but everyone else was darting around half a mile away or more, so they weren’t considered such a risk. For us, though, the decontam went on, round and round for eight hours. Afterwards we put on our normal clothes and went back to the Narvik. We were shattered. It was an arduous day. ” Ron Knight Sapper, Royal Engineers
The upper air observations then consisted of a battery driven Radio Sonde transmitter attached to a hydrogen filled balloon and a radar target. These were then followed by means of radar and also by measuring the signals received from the pressure temperature and humidity elements attached to the Sonde. From these records it was possible to plot the meteorological conditions at the various heights as the balloon rose in the sky. These observations which were important for the timing and positioning for the test were taken twice a day.
In my case they stated that my work was highly accurate the only problem was that i could not add up a column of figures well. A problem I still suffer from. In addition to lack of practice one of the Jimmies was rather fond of drinking Drambuie. This was a taste I developed as well as I was not fond of the Australian gnats piss we were served as beer. I was thus able to form the opinion that on occasions he sometimes drank a little too much of this product. It was he who was responsible for the final radar tracking and wind plotting calculations, before the test.
For the final observation before the bomb test us junior and very practised observers were stood down and the final observation was performed by the two civilian supervisors both called Jimmy. They of course were not regular observers on Christmas Island as normally they supervised our work and checked our calculations and plots.
For whatever reason after the test had taken place the mushroom cloud passed directly over the island and the troops below. It was stated at the time that the winds had changed at the last minute I am not so sure as this was rather unusual as changes were usually very gradual. The famous mushroom cloud as it deteriorates turns into a shower cloud; and showers did indeed fall from this cloud as it passed over the Island.
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A heavy shower was experienced down at the port and somewhat lighter one over the main camp and the troops marching back to it. I should say at this point that no other showers fell over the Island during the rest of my stay on the island. The only rainfall was when the inter-tropical front passed over the island and produced hours on end of torrential rain which flooded the islands coral sand and made life under canvas very damp both inside and out. After the test most troops and the civilian meteorologists went home. Amongst those left behind were myself and my fellow national service man SAC Peter Cook. We stayed behind to man the synoptic meteorological station on the airfield where we made synoptic observations, plotted charts from teleprinter messages and briefed the pilots for their regular flights back to Hawaii. This latter activity was well above our pay grade but I have already made reference to the stability of normal weather conditions and we were well able to perform this task as there only matter of importance was the position and conditions of the inter-tropical front which the lay between us and Hawaii.
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Those still on the island after the test were issued with radioactivity dossimeters. It was never revealed what measurements were obtained on these dossimeters but it might be significant that for the next August test I was sent up to Fanning Island some 250 miles to the north under the supervision of Jimmy the Drambuie drinker. There was no airfield on this island so we travelled up on HMS Narvik a flat bottomed ship used in the Normandy Landings and for the Montebello Island atom bomb tests in Australia. The flat bottom made landing easier with all our equipment and supplies on an island with no proper port and a coral reef. We were later supplied by parachute drop and Jimmy and I were devastated when a bottle of Drambuie shattered on the coral stones as it landed. After this test which was little more than a distant thunder clap I was suddenly repatriated back home. My Father had gone into the Air Ministry and done his bring back my son from Christmas Island act as his Mother is dieing in St Bartholomews Hospital. I received a signal to this effect. A Greek owned boat the Fort Beauharness was sent up to collect me and three days later I landed in London on a cold Bank Holiday Monday at the end of August and have never been so cold in my life before or since as all my kit was left behind by the speed of my return.
A word about health. I was lucky I was still only 20 and I have since read that young men are the quickest to recover from radiation exposure. Almost certainly this is due to the high levels of Co-enzyme Q10 in their bodies. I have since read of its importance in recovering from radiation and regularly take large doses and I have found that recent symptoms improve as a result. I have spent over 50 years reading and listening about the subject of radiation damage to the human body. Only last week a senior radiological professor on the radio stated that the after effects of radiation doses are very long standing and some damage is only observed some 50 years or more after exposure. Of course we are lucky while radiation from Russia Japan and the USA et al are seriously damaging British radiation is the right kind of radiation and positively beneficial! In the same way that we experience adversely the wrong kinds of snow and leaves on railway lines. In the light of this it is interesting to note that the widow of wing commander Grundy Station commander when I was on Christmas Island or Air Vice Marshal Grundy as he became, sued the Ministry of Defence after his death from an unpleasant cancer. She of course got nowhere. The early
symptoms of radiation exposure are comparatively trivial and often ignored and easily dismissed as signs of the worried well. However they often affect future generations rather badly. Winston Churchill said of the Atom bomb tests it was necessary to discover the affect on troops of atomic weapons. I agree with this judgement and am proud to have been part of it and in the preparations for the test itself. I am only utterly disgusted at all the lying corrupt untrustworthy dishonest politicians in our unfair corrupt undemocratic parliamentary dictatorship of all political parties who have followed him. In addition to falsely denying legitimate compensation claims Ministers have used their control ofour socialised medicine to frustrate treatment and frighten the medical profession into denying that any harm has arisen from the atomic tests . Colin Jones BNTVA Member NO3113.
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Poems Friends and Comrades
Of friends and comrades with whom I once served now spread about this earth, long lost, to ever see again to know of friendships worth.
The Devil lurked in the fireball with evil equation-of-state Churning orange and gold His nuclear halo on high He flung his spear of whitest light Followed by his thunderous roar Blasting everything, everywhere An avalanche of fire His punchbowl on earth For innocents Hell itself The garden of evil Green glass meadow Crunching underfoot Layered atoms of the dead Showered by radiation intense Complete utter destruction Dirty forever Satan escaping into outer space His evil virus aloft On the run from God with evil intent Looking for another kiloton cauldron
Where are now, those missing friends of mine would chance to meet them be now gone, and never to return and sadly no more to see. These ghostly figures that stay in my mind those faces I see with closed eyes the voices I hear, remind me of them whenever thoughts of them rise How can I Forget, all the days that I served those times of a friendlier bliss when today all I have is a memory of those that I knew,and really miss Pat Hurley
Under the Cloud The Nuclear Veterans know the answer Why so many died of cancer If you could see what we went through Then you would understand it too. If Governments could see the light The one that we saw, oh so bright They would then compensate the wives Of all the Vets. who gave their lives. Since 58 we’ve lived in fear The dreaded “C” may well be near Of us this country should be proud We’ve lived for years under the cloud. B W Barnard
Bryan Davies P.S.O Opertaion Antler
Courage and Strength Courage and Strength is an inspiring new collection of stories and poems by Combat Stress Veterans.The collection is published on 11th November 2012. The book, published by Kingston University Press, is written by men and women of the armed forces affected by combat and by the exacting demands of military service. All proceeds from the sale of this book go to support the fantastic work of Combat Stress. The Times Excerpt from Introduction: ‘This volume is full of astonishing work. It is painfully and often brilliantly written and in the midst I found something wonderful about the human spirit. In Lee Harrison’s poem From a Veteran to a Veteran, I found a life sustaining PS when he wrote “There is always HOPE.” This book has hope in it. Thank you for supporting Combat Stress.” Sandi Toksvig More Information & On-Line ordering visit http://www.legendpress.co.uk/mainsite/courageandstrength.html
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Getting Greener Saving Money We have received a great response from members willing to read the magazine on-line and the savings are really stacking up. Following suggestions from a number of members we have stopped sending multiple copies of the magazine to members living at the same postal address. If sharing the magazine in the household causes any problems please let us know and we will issue additional copies.
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The National Atomic Veterans Awareness Day (NAVAD) is a special annual event inaugurated by the BNTVA to enable us not just to raise awareness but to provide an occasion where individuals can take time out to remember the lives of Friends or Family members who have worked with or alongside radio active material for the benefit of the Nation. The Forget-Me-Not flower was chosen as the emblem of NAVAD and we have a European wide trade mark on our badge image. To make the day even more special we have just launched our special memorial tribute: We now offer a special tribute of a small bunch of artificial Forget-Me-Not flowers with a BNTVA &NAVAD themed memoriam card that you can lay as a tribute at any BNTVA memorial on National Atomic Veterans Awareness Day. These beautiful tributes are now available from the BNTVA shop for a donation in excess of £3.50 plus p&p.
Band 1 items For Get Me Not Lapel Badge New Item Car Badge Blazer Badge BNTVA Lapel Badge Cuff Links Key Fob Tie Clip Trolley Token Bookmark Grapple Tie BNTVA Tie woven BNTVA Tie printed
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A letter to MP’s Included in this edition is a letter you can complete and send to your local MP informing them of our Recognition Campaign. Please take time to do this as every single letter increases the call for recognition of your contribution and suffering.
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Ways to pay your annual BNTVA membership subscription Set out below are the methods you can use to pay your membership subscription, due 1st of April each year. By standing order using the personalised standing order form sent out with the Winter Edition of the magazine. By using the BACS system take your cheque or cash into any HSBC branch make out the paying in slip with the following details: HSBC Bank plc 13 Parliament Street York YO1 8XS Sort code: 40-47-31 Account number: 64259351 Account name: British Nuclear Test Veterans Association Amount: £15.00
By using your own Internet Banking account make the payment using the details below left.
PayPal payment to: email@example.com
If you are unable to use any above ways to pay, CHEQUES made out to the BNTVA only, can be sent to the central address. BNTVA BM 5657 London WC1N 3XX
Have we got your correct address details? Can you please check that your correct address and postcode is shown on mailing address labels on any communications that we send to you? If we have the incorrect address (especially postcode) please contact us and let us know the correct details. See the address above for the Association’s contact details.
Campaign magazine is published by the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association. Editor: Steve Bexon. Next issue copy Deadline 28th February 2013. All contributions for the magazine should be sent to the London address or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org BNTVA is not an anti-nuclear or an anti-war association. All opinions,views and quotations do not represent official BNTVA policy and are the sole responsibility of the writer. Photographs and images – © Copyright of owner acknowledged.
Campaign cannot guarantee total accuracy for any reproduction of letters / articles / transcripts. BNTVA is a Registered Charity Reg. No 1131134 supporting past and present UK Nuclear Test Combined Service Veterans and their families.
Royal British Legion Education Pack 2012/2013 Copies of the 2012/2013 RBL Education Pack are available. Please send your request for copies to the central address. Written request only will be actioned.
This important medal is a joint commission between the Australian and British Nuclear Veterans Associations providing medallic recognition to veterans who served in nuclear test site locations and supporting bases in Australia and the Pacific between 1952 and 1967. Next of kin or direct descendants can also apply. The obverse of the medal depicts the nuclear symbol surrounded by the words 'British Nuclear Weapons Tests in Australia & Pacific' and the reverse dramatically features a detonation cloud and the words 'For Service in Radioactive Areas 1952-1967'. The ribbon is white on the edges representing the blinding white flash that comes before the fireball and then subsides to the fireball which has the reddish fire in the centre and becomes the familiar mushroom shape. An easy care 100% polyester navy blue tie has been tastefully designed with stripes matching the ribbon colours and bears an authenticating label on the reverse. For further information and/or an application form contact Award Productions Ltd, (Dept. NNL) PO Box 300, Shrewsbury SY5 6WP, U.K. Tel: 01952 510053 Fax: 01952 510765 E-mail: email@example.com
The Australian Nuclear Veterans Association and the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association are the beneficiaries of this project.