David Whyte has fought the MoD for the injustice that he has endurred. This is Part one of his story.
He believes it is now time to write about his experience at the British Nuclear test site at Christmas Island in 1958 and his fight against the MoD.
It is a shocking story.
I had already witnessed the largest Hydrogen bomb exploded by Britain on the 28 April 1958. I was stationed at Main Camp and had no input into the bomb, although I was drenched by the rain storm which ensued after detonation. This rain contained a fair degree of radioactive particles, the Ministry of Defence will not agree with this.
In early August 1958 I was sent to ‘B’ site at the southern end of the Island. This was situated approx 2 miles from the Atomic bomb ground Zero and 7 miles from the Hydrogen bomb ground zero. I was given a blood count, which was stored in my Service records and it was explained what my task would be after the detonation of the two Atomic bombs ‘Pennant’ on the 22 August and ‘Burgee’ on the 23 September. The Judge at my First Tier Tribunal (A Mr Lederman) stated that we were 700 km (435 miles) from the Ground Zero. Where he received this information is beyond me, there is certainly nothing in my court bundle that could have been mistaken. (Mr Ledermans report and my reply can be found at the end of this article.)
There were a further two Hydrogen bomb tests, ’Flagpole’ on the 2 September and ‘Halliard’ on the 11 September to which I would not be concerned with, other than living in close proximity at ‘B’ site. (attachment ‘A’) We are denied access to information, relating to the levels of radiation given off by these bombs.
I was ordered to enter ‘Ground Zero’ two hours after the detonation of the Atomic bombs in order to collect all the radioactive debris scattered around. My task was to load the debris onto my truck, and deliver it to the decontamination centre. I was NOT issued with any protective clothing or a respirator, which were Mandatory for all Civilian Workers of the AWRE to wear. It is stated in the ‘Radiological Safety Regulations’ for Christmas Island, dated July 1958 that all personnel entering this area must wear protective clothing and a respirator. These instructions were never related to the Service personnel at Christmas Island. I was not informed that the debris which I handled was radioactive.
Prior to the detonations I was to assemble, with the remainder of my Unit, at ‘A’ site. Two hours after detonation I was to proceed to Ground Zero to carry out my task. WO II Flews issued me with a radiation Film Badge and a QFE Dosimeter and instructed me that if the radiation level went up to ‘7 roentgens per hour’ I was to work for a maximum of two hours only, then get out of the area. The fact the QFE Dosimeters were only designed to read up to ‘5 roentgens’ was never explained. This was discovered later, Burgee was 50% more powerful than Pennant, yet, my QFE Dosimeters read 5 roentgens after both Pennant and Burgee. 1 Roentgen = 10 mSv
When I had parked in the allotted slot at the decontamination centre, I proceeded to enter the decontamination tent and noticed an AWRE employee, dressed in full protective clothing and wearing a respirator, jump into my truck, and drove it away to empty it. At the time, I was totally naive regarding radiation, and considered he must be going somewhere where there was radiation. I now realise, this was Blatant Discrimination.
Inside the decontamination tent, I encountered a chap who was collecting the radiation film badges and he entered something on a sheet of paper, I expect it may have been the time that I returned. He then threw my film badge into a box situated on the table. I then went to the next chap who was collecting the QFE Dosimeters. He took my dosimeter and read the charge of 5 roentgens (50 mSv), and entered it on his sheet of paper, he re-charged the dosimeter for the next user. The Ministry of Defence now say, my radiation film badges were NOT RETURNED and they have no record of QFE Dosimeters being issued. This is a blatant lie. Are they pleading guilty, for failing to obey the regulations shown in the Health and Safety instructions?
Two Judges have issued ‘Directions’ that the ‘Original Compendium’ of radiation film badges and QFE dosimeters are handed into Court for examination. The Judges ‘Directions’ have not been complied with and no action has been taken.
After this I was tested for any personal radiation received. After the Pennant detonation the machine clicked fairly loudly when placed over my clothes. I was told to wash my clothes when I got back to my tent! I did not receive a shower or a change of clothes after either of the tests, yet the Ministry of Defence appear to believe that we did!
When I had finished at the de-contamination centre, my truck had been returned, empty, but had not been decontaminated.
Approx 18 months after returning from Christmas Island, I was serving at ‘Aden’, and was suffering from stomach problems, these had started at Christmas Island. I was admitted to the Royal Air Force Hospital at Steamer Point after numerous tests had been carried out they could not discover the cause of the problem. I was discharged from the hospital. Three months later, I developed large swellings up my groin, and was again admitted to the Hospital where I underwent numerous tests and had a biopsy of a Lymph Node from my right elbow. Once again they were unable to give a diagnosis for the complaint, and would have to wait on the result of the tests on the lymph node. The results have never been conveyed to me, and the records cannot be found.
I had placed a request to Purchase my Discharge, whilst at Aden, and this became effective during my Disembarkation leave. I returned to my Unit at Ripon, paid the discharge fee, and left. There was no necessity to have a clearance form signed, as I had never been effectively on the strength of the Unit. I was not given a Medical Release Examination on leaving the Armed Forces.
There is however, a FORGED Medical release certificate (attachment I and I2) not signed by me, using the information on my enlistment form almost ten years earlier. This was incorporated within my Court Bundle. I notified the Veterans Agency in 2013 regarding this forgery, and requested the name of the individual who had ‘Forged’ my name, and an apology. The Agency did not bother to reply, but they have left the document in my Court Bundle. This is now being used as evidence against me. The Authorities have refused to discuss this forgery. Attachment ‘L’ shows the total lack of intelligence in this matter.
The Late Judge Stubbs made ‘DIRECTIONS’ that the ‘Original Compendium of Radiation Film Badges and QFE Dosimeters for Operation Grapple Zulu’ be presented to Court for examination. The Ministry of Defence Legal team refused to obey this direction. At the same time, Judge Stubbs also gave ‘Directions’ for the documents, which were raised at the de-contamination centre, after the detonation of both Pennant and Burgee to be presented to Court. THE ministry of Defence stated that these documents could not be found. This was the same answer, for the Hospital Records and the blood count (after detonations), previously mentioned. It would appear that all records dealing with any radiation aspect have been mislaid, destroyed or hidden.
Judge Horrocks gave the same ‘DIRECTIONS’ and received the same results.
Attachment ‘A’ is a map of Christmas Island and ‘B; site where I was living was at the bottom right hand side of the map. BW site was the ‘Ground Zero’ for Atomic bomb detonations.
Attachment ‘B’ is a copy of the Nuremberg code which clearly states that the voluntary consent is required and, that ‘Proper’ preparations should be made to protect the experimental subjects against possible harm. None of this was adhered too.
Attachment ‘C’, 2nd paragraph, states the Trials were planned with meticulous care. This was clearly not the case.
Attachment ‘D’, bottom of page, clearly shows that film badge 10459 was a routine badge and 10560 and 11256 (top paragraph of attachment’ E’) were issued for Pennant and Burgee detonations.
Attachment ‘E’, 2nd paragraph from bottom, shows, the radiation doses listed as 1 r/h(10 mSv) for Pennant and 1.6 r/h (16 mSv) for Burgee.
Attachment ‘F’ shows how the Ministry of Defence have altered the facts. 10459 is listed as the badge for Pennant and 10560 and 11256 have been recorded as Monthly issue badges for August and September. The dates have been deliberately excluded.
Attachment ‘G’ shows that the radiation took ‘NINE’ days to reduce to normal working levels at the forward area. (where I was living)
Attachment ‘H’ is a ‘Graph’ showing the radiation levels after both, Pennant and Burgee. Let us forget the ‘Half Value Thickness of the bunker where the instruments were housed and call the radiation level 1 Roentgen (10 mSv), as shown at attachment ‘E’ for Pennant, What would the radiation level be 5 hours after detonation? It should be noted that there are no radiation levels shown on attachment ‘H’. It took me over 4 years to obtain them, but that is a different story.
Attachment ‘I’ & ‘I’ 2, are a Medical Release certificate which was never carried out. This document is a forgery but the Ministry of Defence will not admit this. If we note the height (61 ¼ inches) and weight (95 pounds) on the form, this corresponds to my engagement medical, almost ten years previously. Even after notifying the ‘Veterans Agency’ that this was a forgery, in 2013, the document is still being used as evidence against me.
Attachment ‘I’ 3 shows my ‘Pulheems ‘for 22 November 1951 with the height of 61 ¼ inches and weight 95 pounds. ( These were the figures used on my Forged release medical certificate. On 21 February 1952 ( after joining my Unit) my height was 62 ½ inches and weight 104 pounds. The third set of ‘Pulheems’, was after attaining the age of 18 years. I fail to understand how the decision at attachment ‘L’ was reached.
Attachment ‘J’ is a report from a writing expert. The examination was inconclusive as the document had lost a lot of character. I suggested that the Ministry of defence send the ‘Original’ document to be verified. This they refused to do.
Attachment ‘K1, 2 & 3’. Are lists of ‘Radiation Film Badges’ issued to the TSFG (Technical Services Forward Group). If we look at ‘K1’ we can see three extra personnel added to the list who had radiation doses listed. These Men were not members of the TSFG, it is obvious, that the authorities were deliberately attempting to fool the Public. The film badges issued were for routine work carried out prior to any detonation. (attachment ‘D & E). Attachment ‘K2’ was issued for Pennant detonation and ‘K3’ for Burgee. If we look next to the 11256 there is writing which can be interpreted as ‘Not Kept’ with ‘Not Returned’ later.
Attachment ‘L’. The Ministry of Defence, obviously, did not check my report of the Forged Release Medical Certificate properly. Attachment ‘I’ 3 clearly shows that the document was forged.
Attachment ‘M’ Shows that the Ministry of Defence knew what they were doing at the time of the Nuclear Experiments and they have disregarded the Health and safety.
Operation Grapple ‘Y’ and ‘Z’
Christmas Island 1958
Court report from Mr J Lederman and my reply to follow in part 2 next week.