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fissionline ISSUE 9


Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children Lead Story Headline

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MoD Signals Payoffs For Nuke Vets

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EXCLUSIVE The Ministry of Defence has signaled that compensation is on the cards for Britain’s nuclear test veterans. It has suggested a benevolent fund could be set up to help hundreds of ex-servicemen who claim they were injured by witnessing A-bomb tests. In a carefully-worded response to a question by fissionline about the possibility of compensation, an MoD spokesperson said there was no scope to “make funds available for a Benevolent Fund at present.” This marks a significant shift from the uncompromising attitude the MoD normally takes when dealing with questions of compensation for nuclear veterans. Scores of statements over the years have scornfully dismissed the notion that

nuclear veterans were affected by radiation and pay-offs were, therefore, out of the question. The MoD refused to budge even when the world’s other nuclear powers, the USA, Russia, France and

China decided to compensate their exservicemen. Now a team of civil servants believed to be headed by the MoD’s chief medical adviser Dr Anne Braidwood is understood to be thrashing out the terms of an offer. For 30 years Britain’s nuclear veterans have been fighting for compensation for the injuries they claim were caused by their participation in the nuclear weapons tests of the 1950s. And for

30 years successive British governments have firmly rebuffed them. There has never been even the ghost of a hint that those in power were willing to contemplate paying compensation to its nuclear veterans. That could now all change. The news received a cautious welcome from nuclear veterans who have been involved in bitter court disputes with the MoD. Ken McGinley, former chairman of the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association said: “I look forward to reading the details, but the first thing veterans expect is an apology for the great wrong that has been done to them. We’ll wait to see what money there is on offer, but I believe I speak for the majority who say they do not want to be treated as a charity case.”

How fissionline Landed A Big One Ever since fissionline

burst on the scene back in April, the Ministry of Defence has been consistently wrongfooted by the constant barrage of revelations exposing the truth of what really went on at Britain’s nuclear weapons

tests. Cover-ups, obfuscation and barefaced lies on an epic scale have been ruthlessly reported as decades of deceit by politicians and military chiefs have been stripped bare. This newspaper’s uncompromising stand against the Ministry of Defence has struck a chord with hundreds of nuclear veterans up and down the country who are appalled by the revelations. Politicians from the prime minister down have been bombarded with letters and protests from exservicemen and their families furious at the continual denials that they were injured during the testing programme. The protests have even spread abroad with groups in Australia, New Zealand,

France, Japan and the USA voicing their displeasure. It now it looks as though the pressure is beginning to pay off. Fault lines are appearing in the MoD armoury. A deal might soon be on the cards. The fact the government chose fissionline to signal its change of heart is no coincidence. It knows we reach a wider audience than any other publication when it comes to informing nuclear veterans and their descendents about what is really going on . In our first edition we pledged to fight on their behalf until justice is done. Help us to achieve this historic aim. Email us on to mark your support and get all the news



Lawrence And The Atomic Bomb A series of bizarre coincidences has linked the legendary Lawrence of Arabia with Britain’s renowned atom scientist William Penney. Military intelligence officer T.E. Lawence famed for leading the Arab revolt against the Turks during the first world war learned his skills with explosives from a young sergeant in the British Army Ordnance Corps called William Alfred Penney. Penney was one of the Army’s top explosives experts and he taught Lawrence everything he

knew when they were stationed in Palestine. Lawrence was apparently in awe of his skills and put them to good use by blowing up vital Turkish rail links in Arabia. But he would have been even more impressed by the bomb-making skills of Penney’s son, William George Penney (top left). The lad was just seven yrs old when his father was teaching Lawrence, but was already showing a remarkable aptitude for chemicals and physics. Young Penney went on to become Britain’s nuclear bomb supremo. Coincidentally in 1928, Lawrence, who by then was just an ordinary RAF aircraftsman, shared a billet in Miranshah, India with young Penney’s first cousin David William Penney who went on to become a Wing Commander. But the most remarkable coincidence came when the Wing Commander’s son, also David (bottom left) was sent to Christmas Island to work on the Canberra “sniffer” aircraft. The year was 1957 and William Penney was on the island for the detonation of Grapple X, Britain—and Penney’s

— first true H-Bomb. It is doubtful the pair met, but David often talked about how his father had met the fam ous Lawrence of Arabia. Unfortun a t e l y David died several years ago after a long i l l n e s s which he blamed on the bomb tests. But His widow Barbara said: “David would have been fascinated to learn that another of his close relatives as well as his father met the great Lawrence of Arabia.”

Mystery Bomb Intruder Unmasked

It is the morning of April 28, 1958 and out in the middle of the Pacific the air is thick with tension. The UK is about to explode its biggest ever bomb, a 3 megaton nuclear leviathan codenamed Grapple Y. Thousands of men on Christmas Island are on full alert, as are the men aboard the New Zealand navy ship, F424

Pukaki patrolling 80 miles off-shore. Suddenly a buzzer sounds: the ships sonar has picked up a signal beneath the rolling blue swells. The ship is ordered to intercept amid fears it is a Soviet submarine. The tension mounts as the Pukaki makes full steam toward the source of the signal, judged to be about 12 miles distant. But as it closes to within five miles, the contact suddenly disappears. Pukaki circles probing the depths with its powerful sonar equipment. Soon two Shackleton aircraft join in the search for the mysterious intruder, but nothing is found. Later when Pukaki returns to Christmas Island she is boarded by naval intelligence officers who remove the data collected about the enigmatic contact. Nothing more about the incident is heard until recently a former crew member of the British sub HMS Aurochs came for-

ward to say his vessel was the culprit. The man, who does not want to be identified, said: “We were there on a cat and mouse mission to test the defences. We surfaced briefly and then made off before the explosion.” Later HMS Aurochs was strafed with machine gun fire by a USA spy plane in the Molucca sea near Indonesia, in support of rebels against President Sukarno’s government.

MoD Gravy Train Rolls On And On Last month fissionline revealed how Ministry of Defence civil servants were given a whopping £75m compensation package after 2,000 staff were made redundant. We also told how the Mau Mau warriors who were ill-treated by the UK in the 1950s were also given a handsome £20m payoff. We highlighted the fact that Britain’s nuclear test veterans, who are suffering as a result of participation in the A-bomb tests, had received precisely nothing. Now it has been announced that MoD chiefs have been forced to spend more than £40 million rehiring an army of civil servants only months after paying thousands of staff redundancy cash. Many of those being taken on are

the same civil servants who recently received redundancy payments of more than £30,000 each. MPs are reported to have branded the MoD ‘dysfunctional’ and said officials responsible for the fiasco should be sacked. One senior MoD official described the department as a ‘rudderless ship riven by poor morale and run by incompetent managers’. The MoD confirmed that former staff would be allowed to reapply for their old jobs and in most cases would be allowed to keep their redundancy payments. A spokesman said: ‘We will continue to have a smaller, more efficient MoD, committed to achieving value for money for the taxpayer.’


This is an independent newspaper. We are not affiliated to any charity, organisation or political party. We fight for justice for Britain’s nuclear test veterans and descendents. Join us on:

Don’t Be Led By The Nose To Oblivion Amid the euphoria of the government’s suggestion that at long, long last Britain’s nuclear veterans are to be compensated, two words disturb me : “benevolent fund.” Those two words, to my way of thinking, are redolent of the master handing out alms to the poor. It smacks of a charitable donation to help the needy out in hard times. That’s not what the nuclear veterans want, of course. They want, nay demand, an apology and proper compensation for the suffering they have endured as a direct result of witnessing nuclear bomb tests. The idea of a benevolent fund falls way short of that. Charity is not justice. For some years now a section of nuclear veterans have been floating the notion that the way forward is to appease the MoD. Don’t be so troublesome, and we might get what we want, they advocate. To that end a charity was formed, a board of trustees appointed, forelocks were tugged and the begging bowls were out in force. To cosy up to the MoD even more they suggested that the illnesses of so many veterans was not caused by radiation but by the fear of what might happen to them. Thus the

appeasers hope the government will be persuaded to part with millions on the understanding that the injuries received by the nuclear veterans were not caused by radiation but by imagination. If this craven compromise is allowed to take root here’s what will happen: The government in a fanfare of publicity will announce that the nuclear veterans problem is “solved.” It will thank the veterans for their part in winning the Cold War and that £20m will be put into a benevolent pot to recognize what they did. Of course there will be no apology and certainly no mention of radiation. In these austere times, the cash might be a long time in the coming. But when it does it will be overseen by an unelected coterie of trustees, most of whom have never seen service, much less witnessed an Hbomb explosion. No doubt there will be a few executives on fat-cat salaries appointed to administer the fund while there will be a couple of OBE’s handed down for a job well done. And the veterans themselves? They will be left with just a begging bowl and a one-way ticket to oblivion.


Bulletin of Nuclear Veterans and Children

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