This report from David Whyte a British Nuclear Veteran of Grapple 'Y' and 'Z', gives an eye witness account of the death of Corporal Redman on the Island.

This death he believes has been covered up by the MoD, because of the radiation that Corporal Redman sufferred. Do the records relating to his death exist? Is this death a key event which has been hidden for decades which will provide evidence?

This may sound a rather strange title. If you are aware of the Porton Down scandal, you will realise the only reason this was reviewed, was that a person was killed, or indeed murdered by the authorities whilst carrying out their experiments. The Nuclear Tests come under the same category.

It is time to release some of the facts that the general public are unaware of, the facts that occurred when experimenting with nuclear weapons in the 1950/60’s. My case revolves around the Experimental Nuclear tests of Christmas Island in 1958. I have no reason to doubt that tests in other sites were equally disorganised and, no thoughts were given to Service Personnel health and safety.

After the detonation of Grapple ‘Y,’ the largest bomb Britain exploded in their nuclear experiments, it was given the rating of 3 Megatons; others say it was nearer 8 Megatons.

Corporal Redman of the Royal Engineers was the driver detailed to take the ‘Boffins’ to the forward area where the radiation levels were extremely high, he was not given any protective clothing or a respirator to prevent him receiving a large dose of radiation.

Cpl Redman had done this journey on numerous occasions one evening he stated he was not feeling very well when he retired for the night. He felt even worse the following morning and asked a friend to report his condition to the Squadron Sergeant Major (Tommy Handley).

When the Sergeant Major visited the tent where Corporal Redman was billeted he discovered that Cpl Redman had passed away. Preparations were quickly made for a Military Funeral to be held, the coffin bearers and firing party were selected and a burial at sea was arranged. I was in the firing party.

After the body had been placed into the ocean the Funeral Party went below deck for a meal. After the meal, we went up to the deck and were horrified to discover that the coffin was still floating on the ocean. Naval Seamen were sent out in a longboat to drill holes in the coffin in order to permit it to sink.

No official publication has ever been made to state the reason for the death of Cpl Redman. I believe the Ministry of Defence hold the records of the true radiation levels Cpl Redman received prior to his death, but refuse to release them.

Cpl Redman had been medically examined prior to his tour at Christmas Island and no ailments had been discovered.

When I look at my own case I now believe his death was deliberate, the authorities were desirous of discovering the level of radiation a person could be exposed to prior to their death.

I was sent into Ground Zero two hours after the detonation of Pennant and Burgee atomic bombs to pick up the radioactive debris scattered around and was not provided with protective clothing, a respirator or ever a pair of tongs. This was in contravention to the health and safety regulations. I was however, issued with a Radiation Film Badge and a QFE Dosimeter in accordance with the Health and Safety regulations.

I am now informed that my radiation film badges were not returned, this is a blatant lie by the Ministry of Defence. I am also informed that there is no record of a QFE Dosimeter being issued to me. This shows the cowardly attitude within the Ministry of Defence by withholding evidence. The QFE Dosimeter was only designed to read up to 5 Roentgens (50 mSv) and both of my Dosimeters (for Pennant and Burgee) reached this level very quickly.

The publication ES1/602 shows the radiation level after Pennant to be 1 Roentgen = 10 mSv (Burgee was 1.6 r = 16 mSv). This instrument was inside the bunker and no ‘Half Value Thickness’ has been added. Proof is supplied, in a letter that is in my possession, that it took NINE days for the radiation levels to reduce to normal working levels. Using this proof, it is blatantly obvious the dose of 2.4 mSv of radiation given by Mr Cockerill (Dosimetry Manager, AWE) as the total radiation dose received during my entire tour of duty, would not cover the radiation received during One hour in Ground Zero. I spent a total of 5 Hours after Pennant and Burgee in Ground Zero and lived in the forward area.

After the Pennant detonation there were two Hydrogen bomb tests, Flagpole and Halliard. I was given a Road Roller and ordered to drive it to the Hydrogen bomb forward area and back to flatten the road ready for tarmac to be laid. I continued to do this for over a week until the road roller broke down. The task was then cancelled.

Why was I given this task? There were plant operators who were trained to drive road rollers. I had never driven a road roller. Indeed, I did not even have a driving licence at the time. I believe there were instruments on the road roller recording the levels of radiation present at the forward area and I was the individual chosen to receive this radiation. The Ministry of Defence refuse to answer any questions relating to his affair

Let us look at the facts! I am denied access to documents, after directions being given by Judges. The Ministry of Defence refuse to divulge radiation levels when requested. A Forged document is used as evidence, even though they were notified 7 years previously regarding this fact. My radiation film badges are reported to have not been returned, the documents recording their return at the decontamination centre apparently cannot be found. The two QFE Dosimeters, again, recorded at the decontamination centre as 5 roentgens (50 mSv) each, it is now stated that no record of issue can be found, also the records from the decontamination centre cannot be found.

When this is added to the results of the Blood count, taken after completion of the tests, which is missing, and my missing hospital records from the Royal Air Force Hospital, Aden, it can be deduced these records were deliberately placed out of reach. When we add the ‘Kangaroo Courts’ into the equation a pattern emerges. The Ministry of Defence have altered numerous documents and have told many lies in order for the true radiation levels to remain hidden.

The M-Band cytogenetic blood test is a positive step to determine the level of radiation a person has received. This test has been banned for Nuclear Veterans, even the offer of payment for the test to be completed, is refused.

The Ministry of Defence do not wish the truth to be revealed, they refuse to pay for legal aid, which is given to Criminals and Illegal Immigrants but denied to Loyal Service Personnel who were prepared to give their lives for their Country. There is no loyalty given by the Ministry of Defence to these honourable Servicemen.

Their First Tier Tribunals are ‘Kangaroo Courts’ and they are bringing the British Legal System into disrepute.

Like the possible Murder of Corporal Redman. I believe I could have followed in the same direction, had I not been fortunate that the road roller broke down.

David Whyte

Nuclear Veteran

Operation Grapple ‘Y’ and ‘Z’.

Christmas Island 1958

Online Search

An online search found articles written in the press at the time, this is the article and replies. (

Lance Corporal Derek Redman Born on the 20th November 1930 Died on the 7th May 1958 Buried at Sea. The MoD Armed Forces Memorial Roll of Honour shows : Surname                      REDMAN Forenames/Initials        Derek Rank                            LCpl Service                        Army Service Number            22126604 Regiment/Corps            RE Date of Birth                20 November 1930 Age                             27 Date of Death              07 May 1958 Headstone/Markerstone    Included on Armed Forces Memorial          No Included on Roll of Honour                      Yes _____________________________________ Lance Corporal Derek Redman, Royal Engineers, had been assisting scientists on Christmas Island during the development and tests of the H-Bomb.  He died suddenly and unexpectedly - his family were not happy with the explanation given by the authorities.  The following newspaper article is transcribed as published. Daily Herald - Saturday 24 May 1958 ' HOW DID MY SON DIE ON H-ISLE ? ' A MOTHER called for an investigation yesterday into the death of her soldier son, who had been working with scientists on Christmas Island. Lance-Corporal Derek Redman, aged 27, of the Royal Engineers, died a fortnight ago after spending a month with scientists on the island headquarters of British H-bomb tests in the Pacific. Four hours later he was buried at sea. The Army have told his parents he developed diabetes and died in a coma. But yesterday his mother, Mrs. Ellen Redman, of Hawkhurst road, Brighton, wife of a postman, said: "I find that hard to believe. He was perfectly fit when he left England to go to Christmas Island four months ago." MYSTERY "He was a strong, husky lad. He had won medals in the Army for boxing, athletics and tug-of-war. And why did they bury him so quickly and at sea ? " "It looks as though there was something hide." "I am sure we haven't been told everything." "I can't help thinking there was some sort accident or the H-bomb tests affected him." In a letter of sympathy to Mr. and Mrs. Redman, their son's commanding officer wrote: "He had been working with the scientists for about a month. . .. When he returned to the regiment, everyone noticed he looked rather thin."

Reply #1 on: December 23, 2019, 18:35:31 PM

Daily Herald - Thursday 12 June 1958 WHY WAS THIS SOLDIER BURIED AT SEA. A man whose son was buried at sea off Britain's atom-test base at Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, last night demanded a further inquiry into the manner of is death. Lance-Corporal Derek Redman died soon after a series of H-bomb tests on the island. Four hours later he was buried at sea . Yesterday, Mr. Julian Amery, Under Secretary of War, said in a written Commons answer that Redman died from diabetes "of sudden onset and great severity." He was buried at sea because there was no consecrated ground on the Island. But last night postman John Redman said at his Brighton home "I am not satisfied with the War office account. I don't believe that my boy, a fit tough lad, could develop diabetes and die within 24 hours." Mr. William Teeling, MP for Brighton Pavillion, has tabled two more questions on the case.

Reply #2 on: December 24, 2019, 07:16:39 AM

Was the matter drawn to a it an unsatisfactory conclusion or otherwise ? West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 19 June 1958   (from the column "Brighton and Hove Searchlight")

DEATH ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND The rather disturbing circumstances about the death on Christmas Island of L-Cpl. Derek Redman (28), whose parents live in Hawkhurst-rd., appear to have been explained in an answer given by the Minister of War in the House of Commons to a question by Mr. William Teeling M.P. L-Cpl. Redman, and extremely robust and athletic young man, was ditched from his unit to assist scientists carrying out a nuclear bomb explosion test. When he returned to his unit he was passed fit by the medical officer but two days later was admitted to hospital in a coma. He died early the following morning and within a few hours was buried at sea. The parents were naturally fearful that their son had been affected by radiation. They contacted Mr. Teeling who put down a question in the House. In a written answer the Minister said that the soldier had not been exposed to radiation and that his death was due to a previously undiagnosed diabetic condition. The burial at sea was in accordance with standing orders as there was no consecrated ground on the island.

Reply #3 on: December 24, 2019, 07:30:42 AM

I can't find any other newspaper articles relating to the death of Lance Corporal Derek Redman.  This is my own personal opinion - but I have to ask myself if circumstances of his death were exactly as described by the Minister for War in his written reply in the House of Commons. I fully understand that we were in "Cold War" years and we wouldn't want Mr. Ivan Russkie to know that we had had a bit of an accident but, to be quite honest, I don't think I believe the Minister of War. I may be totally wrong.  There is absolutely no way of proving that the circumstances were not as described. Even there and then at the time, back in 1958 - sixty two years ago - there would have been no way to challenge the authorities. All done and dusted in a few hours.

Hansard Records

Following a search of Hansard, in 1958, Corporal Redman's case was discussed:

11 June 195 - Volume 589 - 54. Mr. Teeling asked the Secretary of State for War what report he has received concerning the sudden death of Lance Corporal Derek Redman on Christmas Island on 7th May; why diabetic fever was officially notified as the cause, since he was passed as fit on 5th May; why he was buried at sea within 10 hours; how far he had been connected with the group of scientists concerned with the nuclear test explosions on the island a few days previously; and whether this was at his own request. Mr. J. Amery My right hon. Friend has received reports from the task force and from the medical authorities of the Royal Air Force who care for soldiers on Christmas Island. ​Lance Corporal Redman was found unconscious in his tent on 6th May. He was suffering from diabetes of sudden onset and great severity, and he died in the R.A.F. sick quarters early next morning. There had been no sign of serious illness when he was treated for a minor ailment on 4th and 5th May. I am advised that severe diabetic cases of this kind are not unknown, although they are comparatively rare. Lance Corporal Redman was buried at sea in accordance with Standing Orders because there is no consecrated ground on Christmas Island. He had been employed in charge of a power station. His work was not directly concerned with the nuclear test explosions except in so far as all members of the task force were contributing to those tests. My right hon. Friend has had the most careful inquiries made, and I can reassure the House that there is no medical connection whatsoever between this soldier's death and the nuclear test explosions.


Corporal Redmans death is unexplained. The MoD response is not adequate. More cover ups and deceit and lies. Another sad death which is unexplained and leaves a family over 60 years later still wondering without closure. The official response was that he was in charge of a power station, yet his colleagues new that he was a driver for the Scientists. Why would they lie?

A Freedom of Information Request has been logged with the MoD asking for details of the circumstances of Corporal Redman's death.

The truth is hidden in the MoD files. 62 years on, we call on the MoD to provide closure and reveal the true reason for Corporal Redman's death. We are no longer in a Cold War, if it was an accident or exposure admit it.

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