Medal at long last for nuclear test veteran Stanley

By Simon Rothstein

NUCLEAR test veteran Stanley Barclay will receive a medal to honour his service – 65 years after taking part in the programme.

Stanley Barclay

Stanley, a member of Ilford Federation Synagogue, served in the RAF on Christmas Island in the Pacific in 1957 and 1958.

He was one of tens of thousands of servicepeople who witnessed Operation Grapple, the exploding of multiple atomic and hydrogen bombs.

Groups including the British Nuclear Test Veterans and LABRATS have campaigned for many years for the veterans to be given official recognition.

Then finally, in November, Stanley and others attended a commemoration at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that they would be honoured with the Nuclear Test Medal.

Addressing the event – held on the 70th anniversary of the UK’s first successful atomic test – the Prime Minister said: “I am incredibly proud that we are able to mark the service and dedication of our nuclear test veterans with this new medal.

“Their commitment and service has preserved peace for the past 70 years, and it is only right their contribution to our safety, freedom and way of life is appropriately recognised with this honour.”

To further recognise the contribution of veterans of Britain’s nuclear tests, the Government is investing £450,000 into projects which will commemorate and build further understanding of the experiences of those who were deployed to Australia and the Pacific.

Speaking exclusively to the Essex Jewish News, Stanley said: “I was called up to do my National Service in March 1957 and I chose to go into the RAF. I was stationed in England and then given a choice to go abroad which I accepted.

“I was informed that I was going to be posted to a place called Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean. We flew via Iceland and Canada and Hawaii to get there.“On Christmas Island the heat was intense, with dry sand everywhere and massive land crabs which could make a dent in my boots! The living conditions in the old canvas tents were very basic.

“I witnessed six atomic and hydrogen atomic bomb tests over the ocean when I was on the island.

“I am happy that after all these years of campaigning for a medal, it has finally been awarded to the veterans.”

The Nuclear Test Medal will be a commemorative medal that can be worn by recipients. Only 1,500 of the 22,000 men who took part in more than 600 trial explosions are thought to still be alive, but relatives of those who have already died will also be able to apply for the medal on their behalf.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking at the commemoration



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