One veteran’s story of radiation effects of participating in nuclear bomb testing | Nuclear Information
“When the explosion happened you could feel the heat and you could more or less see through your hands, right to the bones. “We would then be told to stand up and turn around to look out to sea. We could see the mushroom cloud forming. “I was given the job of monitoring people as they came back out of what they called the dirty area. I had a geiger counter if it the reading went up so far they had to have a shower. “We also monitored the pilots because their gear was full of radiation and had to scrub the planes down with brushes.
“We even had to do our laundry in the dirty area. We would clean the clothes there, hang them up to dry and then wear them again. We also buried these lead boxes of samples in a big pit we dug for them.
“We were guines pigs, purely and simply. That’s why we were put there.”
Alan had joined the RAF in 1956 and ended up serving for four years, with his year-long stint on Christmas Island coming in 1958. Almost immediately after returning, though, he started to feel unwell but now suspects he encountered a wall of silence from the forces keen to keep the details of the nuclear testing quiet. His condition went downhill dramatically once he returned to civilian life.
He said: “When I got back I had about six months to do so I went to Catterick but I was unwell, I was being sick. I kept going to the medical officer but he kept fobbing me off and saying there was nothing wrong with me.