Atomic bomb test veterans welcome the government’s release of medals in recognition of their achievements after “70 years of denial”.
An estimated 22,000 veterans and civilians will be eligible for the Nuclear Test Medal, which was introduced to mark the 70th anniversary of the United States’ first nuclear test, according to Downing Street.
This honor celebrates the contributions made by veterans, scientists and local employees from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Kiribati.
It is the result of a years-long campaign to award medals to nuclear test survivors from veterans’ groups, including the Labrats International charity.
prime minister Rishi Snack described the decoration as “a lasting symbol of our nation’s appreciation” for those involved in the test program.
He made the announcement Monday during a service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to mark the 70th anniversary of Britain’s first test of the atomic bomb.
Later, John Morris of Laboratories International, an Operation Grapple test veteran who witnessed several nuclear explosions, said:
“I’m usually not at a loss for words, but it’s just the fact that they turned around and realized what we had done for this country.
“Twenty-two thousand men and women provided us with the nuclear deterrent that kept us safe. Finally, some 70 years later, they recognized us.”
He was an 18-year-old national soldier when he was deployed. christmas island 1956.
Morris, who was later diagnosed with a blood disorder, fears the bombing he witnessed killed his four-month-old son, Stephen, in 1962 because of a malformed lung. The 1-year-old from Rochdale, Greater Manchester added: It’s unbelievable. “
His granddaughter, Laura Morris, said the announcement was “a relief”, adding:
“What comes next is other campaigns. War pension reform, access to past medical records, compensation, all these things need to be discussed.”
Another experiment veteran, Eric Burton, wiped away tears when the announcement was made and then said:
Mr Burton, 80, added:
“I am happy that we were successful in gaining recognition.
“When I was on Christmas Island, I had five friends who lived within a ten-mile radius of where I was.
“There are none left now. They all died young of cancer.
Ed McGrath was posted to Australia from Mildenhall Air Force Base at the age of 18 and flew three times to Maralinga’s ‘Drop Zone’. Britain conducted his seven nuclear tests at Maralinga between his 1956 and his 1963 years.
“The point is there was no reason to be there,” he said.
“There is absolutely no reason to be there in shorts and a T-shirt.
“The only reason we were there was to experience the effects of an explosion far greater than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“You naive 18 year old don’t take these things seriously and just do what you’re told.”
The 84-year-old from Surrey was “disgusted” by the decision to award the medal, adding:
“They were probably worried about liability from radiation sickness.”
“I am honored to be here to honor the achievements of our nuclear test veterans,” Snack said.
He said those personnel were “asked to serve at the height of the Cold War”, adding that “the importance of their contributions cannot be overstated.”
“Today, I am very pleased to announce that His Majesty the King has decided to formally recognize the achievements of those involved by creating a new medal to honor them.
“This is a fitting tribute to the incredible contributions you have made.
“It is a symbol of our eternal gratitude and on behalf of a nation to thank all of our nuclear test veterans – those who are no longer with us and all the families who have supported them. ,I appreciate.”
secretary of defense Ben Wallace He also thanked veterans and said the development of Britain’s nuclear deterrent “would not have been possible without you.”
Service Speech, Minister of Veterans Affairs Johnny Mercer “We have finally achieved the long awaited medal recognition for nuclear test veterans.
“Today does not mean the end of that recognition, but a new beginning of official recognition.”
those who worked under British command during the tests at the Montebello Islands, Christmas Island, Malden Island, Maralinga and Emu Fields, south australiabetween 1952 and 1967, is eligible to apply for the medal.
It may also be awarded posthumously to family members of veterans.
The first awards will be presented in 2023.
The Government is also investing £450,000 in a project to better understand the experiences of veterans deployed to Australia and the Pacific.
As part of this funding, the Veterans Administration is launching an Oral History project to document the experiences of those who have supported the nation’s efforts to develop a nuclear deterrent in a digital archive of testimonies.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ben-wallace-south-australia-rishi-sunak-johnny-mercer-christmas-island-b2229842.html Atomic bomb test veterans welcome medal announcement ‘after 70 years of denial’