Pat is a church member in the Deanery. Sixty years ago he was present when the first British thermonuclear weapon was tested. Many of his friends passed away at a relatively young age. On this significant anniversary, it would be good to remember those who involved in these events and the lasting impact on the islanders. These are his words:
The 15th of May this year it will be 60 years since Operation Grapple when we tested Britain’s first thermonuclear weapon (Hydrogen Bomb). A grand total of seven Hydrogen bombs were detonated, plus thirteen atomic bombs of various sizes, this was over a period from 1952 until 1958.
The total number of personal involved over that six years is estimated to be over 26 thousand. I served with the Royal Air Force on Christmas Island in the Pacific 1956/57 when we tested four of the H bombs. At any one time there was the minimum of 2500 men on the island involved, it would be remiss of me not to include the islanders .
The number of remaining veterans is estimated at less than one thousand five hundred. Of the fifteen men of my section only three of us are still alive. A great number died before they reached fifty, many in earlier years. causes of death possibly due to radiation, Back in 1995 I made a trip back to Christmas Island where I stayed for two months. I found that our activity years ago had affected the health of the islanders and I found hardly anyone from the days we were there.
I feel that I have been very fortunate where others have not, I have a life and a healthy family, which I have found is not so with many veterans. I would so grateful if someone would give a thought at is time to all those men and their families.
Please remember the men involved and their families on Sunday – or light a candle in remembrance.