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Brian's picture

Family calls for nuclear health tests

Relatives of an army veteran from north Wales used in nuclear experiments are demanding health tests after a series of medical problems in the family.


tomkelly's picture

Another trip down memory lane

I arrived by Hasting from Honolulu in the second week of March 1958, and found the Island as it had been described in the UK newspapers. Hot, primitive and smelly ! Over 4” of rain had fallen in the previous 24 hours; the coral roads from airfield to Main Camp were awash and our driver took great delight in roaring through the waves, swerving from side to side in order to crush as many land crabs as possible as they gathered in dozens to eat their comrades who had been killed by other drivers.

Brian's picture

The Big Bang

Early April must have been some sort of monsoon period. We had many prolonged downpours lasting several hours each, and the diary records occasions when we had to dig trenches around our tents in an attempt to keep a dry floor area. It also made trips to the cinema pretty miserable as we huddled beneath groundsheets whilst trying to enjoy the movie. Frequent power cuts did nothing to relieve our misery.

Brian's picture


Being very keen on flying, I'd been putting out feelers as to the chances of a trip in one of the Shackletons engaged in met patrols and other surveillance tasks.

Me, speeding?

Now a little tale about Myself and a Snow Drop. Just after arriving on the Island, legs still a vivid shade of white and hairless of knee, the Chief Stores P.O, asked me to go up to Main Camp for some spares. He made it quite clear that he didn't want me to get back too early. The idea being, it would be too late to start a new job that day. "Make a good run ashore of it he said". Only too happy to oblige, off I went. After picking the spares up at the Airfield, I called at the J.N.C.O's mess in the Main camp, spending a happy hour chewing the fat with a couple of Army bods.

Hooray, the Marines are here!

Hi Peter, here's a brief resume of my service history. I Joined the Royal Marines in June 1953, passed out as Kings Squad May 1954. Posted to 45 Commando 3 Commando Brigade 2nd July 1954. Served all over the Middle East, Egypt, Cyprus etc etc, too many places to mention at this time. Good times, bad times and some sad times. I met my future wife on foreign service leave, a Lady I have been happily married to for 46 years next Boxing day. We were due to go to Singapore together in August 1958, when out of the blue I was posted to H.M.S. Resolution, Christmas Island.

Brian's picture

Life On A Target Island

On January 29th, I learned that I was due to a nice little posting down to Malden Island about 400miles south. The RAF it seemed didn't believe in too much notice; take off was scheduled for 9am next day. At the appointed hour, a few other 'lucky' sods and me clambered aboard the Dakota aircraft for our three-hour trip. At least after this, we could boast of having crossed the equator, if not much else. I haven't recorded the name of our pilot, but the name Squadron Ldr Hurst has swum up from the memory banks.

Brian's picture

Start Of New Year (1957)

There was one 'downer' which appeared around this time. Some guy named Dickey Valentine, had recorded a song called 'Did you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island?' Music was being piped from various sources continuously, around the island, but this particular tune started to get on everyone's' wick. No doubt thinking they were contributing to 'troop moral', folks back home were requesting that the song be played over and over. Good job old Dickey didn't bother to visit; I think he'd have been fed to the sharks in short order. December 28th brought my first close encounter with a shark.

Brian's picture

Getting There

My first knowledge of Operation Grapple, and it's proposed venue at Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean, came in the early months of 1956. At this time, I was halfway through the RAF radio operator's course based at Compton Bassett in Wiltshire. One day, my mate 'Paddy' Matthews, turned up with the news that Britain was about to carry out testing of it's first nuclear weapon, and that these tests would involve a 'cushy' posting to an exotic island 1200 miles South of Hawaii.

Brian's picture

Events Until Christmas

Life under canvas had its ups and downs. We quickly found out that the Island's crabs, of which there was a vast multitude, were in the habit of taking a nightly dip in the ocean. After dark, the air was filled with a kind of clicking noise as these things scuttled down to the waters from nearby coconut plantations. Apparently they preferred the direct approach, since no attempt was made to divert around the various tents.