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fissionline Issue 22

Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children

June 2014




They All Legged It Stubbs Part 5: Court told Top Brass bolted from Christmas Island

Britain’s most senior scientists and military top brass ‘legged it’ before a huge H-bomb was exploded at Christmas Island in 1958, the Stubbs Ionising Radiation T r i b u n a l heard. Major-General G r a h a m MesservyWhiting (left), who sat on the Tribunal panel with Judge Hugh Stubbs, made the revelation during closing submissions in the controversial trial which was to set up to decide if illnesses among Christmas Island veterans were caused by radiation exposure. The tribunal was discussing the mysterious absence of documentation relating to radiation dose records when Messervy-Whiting, former military adviser to NATO, made his intervention. He said: “I mean we couldn’t find any 76 Squadron (Canberra “sniffer” squad) documentation at all,” adding:“It was a period of major handling

by Task Force Commanders and key personnel who sort of legged it quickly.”

The news that all the key personnel left the island before the blast clearly illustrates how scientists were terrified of what the effects would be when the huge experimental bomb which had the firepower of at least 3million tons of TNT was exploded. Sir William Penney, and his chiefscientist William Cook left the island in a Dakota aircraft and treated to a grandstand view of the device, codenamed Grapple Y, as they were flown to safety. Military Top Brass including Air Vice Marshals John Grandy and Wilfred Oulton, as well as a number of official observers were also given a show as they were flown 1,000 miles to Honolulu. Adam Heppinstall, QC (pictured) for the Ministry of Defence, told the Tribunal: “Indeed there was a massive personnel transfer which we referenced. There also doesn’t appear to be interim reports of the same style as other tests.” Messervy-Whiting, who had access to highly-classified MoD documents, expressed dismay at

the chaos that followed the previous test, Grapple X, which was exploded in November 1957. Many key documents concerning the test were lost forever, the court heard. Judge Stubbs raised the issue when he stated: “The most important point is we don’t think there is any evidence anywhere of dosimetry after Grapple X.” Heppinstall replied: “I’ve spent three years asking to see those documents because they are very thin on the ground. The only one we have where there is a report provided for, I am guessing, some form of proceedings about somebody who died or had been injured. One can speculate, but there is a lack of documentary evidence. It’s either because it was never created or because the Public Record Act has had it destroyed. Neil Sampson, for Rosenblatts solicitors representing 1,000 nuclear veterans told the court: “If I could just make one comment about Grapple documents. I don’t wish to open up old chestnuts, but I would just remind the tribunal that the Secretary of State has only disclosed about 8 per cent of its admitted documentation in relation to the test as a whole.

To Be Continued...



The Dirtiest Bomb Hurricane: October 3rd, 1952: Britain’s first A-Bomb, and the Dirtiest

It was the first — and the dirtiest of all Britain’s nuclear tests. Codenamed Hurricane it was exploded in the hull of a Royal Navy frigate moored at the Monte Bello islands, 80 miles off the Northwest coast of Australia on October 3rd, 1952. It wasn’t a pretty sight. As it erupted on the horizon observers described it as more of a dirty, distorted cauliflower than the classic symmetrical mushroom shape. And many scientists writing privately later thought that even though it was twice the size of the Hiroshima bomb it was more fizz than bang. Hailed as a triumph by the government, even it agreed Hurricane was

an extremely dirty bomb. It vaporized the frigate and lifted thousands of tons of water and mud into the air. There they were mixed with the fission products of the nuclear reaction to form a dense deadly cloud of contaminating particles. The sheer weight of the particles brought most of it down on the islands turning the lagoons into toxic sinks. A minute later the hellish mix was boosted by a fierce rainstorm that lasted for nine minutes which together with the cloud deposited far more radioactive fallout over the islands than anyone expected. There were three major radiation scares, the first two involving servicemen and scientists sent

ashore. The worst was aboard HMS Tracker, part of the task force. An official report stated: “At 1900 hours the radioactive background on Tracker rose by a factor of 500, putting out of operation all the personnel-monitoring equipment on board.” Bomb maker William Penney and Task Force Commander Rear Admiral Torlesse ([pictured) assured everyone that no harm was done to anyone. But medical records obtained by fissionline show a total of 205 servicemen later suffered illnesses including seven blood cancers, 23 solid cancers, 41 skin diseases and 73 men reporting problems in children.

Roy’s the Boy For National Award fissionline’s

very own Roy Sefton has been nominated for a Pride of New Zealand award. Roy, one of our distinguished Editorial Directors, is one of more than 500 New Zealand seaman exposed

to radiation at Christmas Island in 1957-58. He was instrumental in setting up the Rowland Report which provided scientific proof that veterans were harmed. Roy has suffered greatly since taking part in the Grapple Tests, but it was the experiences of others that pushed him to want to obtain public awareness of the effects the veterans were dealing with. Roy has taken his mission to the European Court of Human Rights, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, and is now lobbying the

Government for funding towards the health of veterans and their children. He was also awarded the Queen's Service Medal for public service in 1999. Mr Sefton's nominator for the award said: "His tireless efforts and selfless application and thousands of hours spent on scientific and complex legal arguments makes this man a true rainbow warrior and a man fiercely loyal and protective of those he represents.”

Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children

fissionline An amazing couple have made an incredibly generous donation to fissionline. The gesture comes with no strings attached apart from an earnest request that we continue to expose the truth of what happened at the bomb tests. This we will do. Unlike other organisations, fissionline has never been in the business of touting for money. Our work is entirely voluntary, but even we realise that an honest organisation cannot be run on hot air alone. So we thank this kind couple and assure them their generosity will be put to the best possible use. fissionline, the independent and authentic voice of nuclear veterans everywhere. Join the historic fight for truth and justice by emailing:

Issue 22. June 2014

The sleight-of-hand techniques of the PR ’guru’ is the key to success, according to a veterans’ charity. But PR, or spin as it is now called, is the science of lying. It is about telling half-truths to create a false impression. It is about plugging the holes, papering over the cracks, massaging the truth, cooking the books...It is a smoke and mirrors art that invariably benefits only those who practice it. Any organisation that relies solely on the puffed-up practices of wind-bags and charlatans is storing up trouble for itself. You need to look no further than Iraq to see what happens when the PR men get their way.

Coming Soon: Betrayal. The Official Account of How Rowland Was Dumped By UK

Fund Won’t Help Some Nuke Vets


word in your ear Prime Minister...I understand you’ve been having a cosy chat with the MP John Baron over the future of nuclear veterans. According to Mr Baron you are ruminating on the possibility of providing a £25 million payment to the BNTVA char-

ity. Which is all very nice, but is it possible to hear from your own mouth what went on at the meeting? After all there are an awful lot of nuclear veterans out there who are not represented by the charity Mr Baron represents. Last week I was shown a letter from the trustees warning a disabled veteran that the police would be called if he showed up at a meeting. On a scale of 1-10, what are the chances of him benefitting from any largesse you might be considering doling out to the charity? Zero I suspect.

THE spectacle of scientists and military chief bolting from Christmas Island after lighting the blue touch paper on Britain’s biggest H-bomb speaks volumes about what the boffins knew about the thermonuclear forces they were unleashing. And it makes a mockery of the earnest assurances peddled ad nauseam by the Ministry of Defence that the bomb tests were not a threat to the thousands of luckless servicemen sent to witness them. It is clear the scientists at the time had a good idea that they might indeed be harmed, which is why they made themselves scarce. Those left behind were never given that option. And have suffered the consequences.


Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children

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