Nuclear Test Medals
Following many years of campaigning, in November 2022, the British Government announced the creation of a new medal intended to recognise the contribution of military and civilian personnel that took part in the various programmes aimed at developing nuclear weapons to be used by the British Armed Forces. The announcement was made to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the first nuclear test. In July 2023, the design of the new medal was released, with a commitment that many eligible veterans would receive their medals by Remembrance Day in November 2023.
Two local veterans, Gerry Robert and Harry Torode both served on Operation GRAPPLE the British Nuclear Test Programme and have been awarded the medal presented by His Excellency at a ceremony at Government House attending by a selection of their family and friends.
Gerry was 21 and serving as a Corporal in the Royal Army Service Corps when he witnessed the detonation of four nuclear bombs at Christmas Island in the Pacific, in 1957. He is now a sprightly and enthusiastic 87 years old and was clearly in his element at the joint reception in his honour where he bounced from guest to guest with a glass of champagne and happily retold his tales to the BBC.
Henry enlisted with the Royal Marines and was posted to Christmas Island in 1958, to operate 28-ton landing craft between Royal Navy ships and the shore. He was present for the detonations of two atom and two much bigger hydrogen bombs, spending just over a year on Christmas Island. Quieter than his army counterpart, Henry was no less thrilled to be awarded the medal and to share the occasion with close members of his family.