Wilf Oulton. the TFC

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tomkelly
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Wilf Oulton. the TFC

I have been able to buy a copy of AVM Oulton's book "Christmas Island Cracker". "Wilf" Oulton was the Task Force Commander of Grapple and his insider knowledge of the whole operation, from 1956 to 1958, is an eye-opener.
I have given a series of talks to various Clubs about Operation Grapple; to most people this seems to be the first they have heard of the UK nuclear tests programme on Christmas Island, Monte Bello and Maralinga. His book has given me much new material. I highly recommend his book to all Xmas Island bods.

On Xmas Island Mar 58-Jan 59 (Grapple Y and Z)then returned in Oct 59 until Apr 1960. First visit tents and H bombs; second time wooden huts and a life of leisure.

Brian
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hi tom- thanks for info. i'd never heard of this book before, but amazon are listing it as a 4-6 week delivery. looking forward to a good read in the new year!
what kind of clubs do you lecture at? do the audiences seem very interested?
bri :D

Bri

tomkelly
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I have spoken to 3 groups so far, all who seemed to be very interested in Britains nuclear test history, particularly from someone who was present at megaton trials.
One aspect is that relatively so few UK servicemen were involved, and this recent part of our military is nearly 50 years old !
I have talked in this year to Dorset Scout Fellowship; the Royal Naval Assoc in Christchurch and the New Forest Aviation Society. My fees (a nominal £25)go to the Bournemouth Heart Club.
I have been able to add a lot to the background Xmas Island scene by introducing the early Monte Bello and Maralinga test sites, plus the ongoing clean-up problems at them.
Regards, Tom

On Xmas Island Mar 58-Jan 59 (Grapple Y and Z)then returned in Oct 59 until Apr 1960. First visit tents and H bombs; second time wooden huts and a life of leisure.

Brian
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gratifying to learn there's a fair amount of interest. I'll leave the lecturing to someone who can handle it. My idea of hell is public speaking!!
Do you use slides or some technique other than dialogue? Presumeably those interested are now aware of the site?
I'm a bit intrigued about the second visit. Was this a 'push' or did you actually volunteer for a second round?

Bri

tomkelly
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I was posted to Xmas in March 1958, and worked in the ATC tower on the airfield until Jan 1959. I returned to the UK and was posted to RAF Shawbury. I was still eligible for overseas posts, and I was asked if I would be prepared to return to the Island as part of the team clearing-up prior to the entry of the yanks. I was happy to accept (among other things, the overseas pay was good and I was promised a short tour) I went on the ATC staff, but with so few aircraft movements my main job was an audit of old maps and charts prior to burning them or packing them into crates for the UK. This tour was a doddle, lots of free time and little work.
I obtained a copy of my Record of Service and Medical Records from the MoD/PMA having seen an article in the RBL magazine, and can thus quote dates of postings, medicals etc. My tours on Christmas run from 2.3.58 to 31.1.59 and from 22.10.59 to 15.4.60.
Cheers

On Xmas Island Mar 58-Jan 59 (Grapple Y and Z)then returned in Oct 59 until Apr 1960. First visit tents and H bombs; second time wooden huts and a life of leisure.

Brian
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yes, I can imagine a six month tour out there being quite acceptable. Particularly so having a low workload and free from the dangers of a nuclear suntan.
Don't remember the overseas pay as 'lucrative', but my memory may have been coloured by the prices in honolulu where the allowance would barely support a couple of cokes a day!
Bri

Bri