A ROYAL Navy veteran is raising cash so the plight of servicemen exposed to radiation during Britain’s 1950s nuclear tests can be brought to the world stage.
Douglas Hern (76), from Moulton, says 18,500 of the 22,500 servicemen who were made to watch the nuclear bombs explode have already died of cancer – and many of the personnel still alive are suffering illnesses which they claim are linked to radiation exposure.
The charity for atomic veterans, The British Nuclear Tests Veterans’ Association, aims to raise £12,000 so it can convert a 1950s double-decker bus into a campaign vehicle to ride in The Lord Mayor’s Show in London next year.
Half a million people line the streets of the capital for the parade, there’s a UK television audience of two million and many more millions watch worldwide.
Mr Hern said: “We want to raise awareness of what we actually did in the 1950s – it’s to raise awareness to the general public.”
He is one of many veterans who lost a child to cancer and believes that is part of the test programme’s tragic legacy which families have had to bear.
Mr Hern suffers from health problems which he believes are linked to the tests and he and his wife, Sandie, have dedicated their lives to winning justice for the veterans and their families.
He describes the veterans as “human guinea pigs” as the tests were devised to “prove the effect on provisions, equipment and men during a nuclear attack” and measure how long a fighting ability could be maintained afterwards.
Television documentaries have shown that scientists monitoring the nuclear tests wore full protective clothing – while the servicemen wore little more than shorts.
Mr Hern says veterans themselves are still barred from saying precisely what they did because it’s “on the secrets list”.
The veteran is appealing to anyone keen to support the campaign to hold fundraising events and send donations to the BNTVA chairman – callNigel Heaps on 07807 268041.
• You can also send donations to Mr Hern – call 01406 371134.