Veteran Douglas Hern cannot wipe out the memories of seeing a nuclear bomb explode just nine miles from where he was standing or ignore health problems he believes are due to radiation exposure.
But the announcement that a nuclear disarmament group has just received the Nobel Peace Prize for its decade-long campaign to rid the world of the atomic bomb was welcome news.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the prize this month with it being applauded by many public figures and celebrities. Doug (81), from Moulton, spoke at both ICAN’s London conference and travelled with his wife Sandie to its conference in Norway.
He said: “I told them what happened to me and some obviously knew there was another area to the situation. I talked about the effect it had on me and the whole meeting snowballed.
“It’s not just about the big bombs, it’s the after effects.”
Doug witnessed five tests on Christmas Island while in the Royal Navy in the 1950s – one atom bomb and four hydrogen bombs.
He and his wife Sandie, vice chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association (BNTVA), work tirelessly for the nuclear community, and for those affected by the tests.
Following a long campaign by the BNTVA, Chancellor George Osborne announced in 2015 a provision of £25 million to finance an Aged Veterans Fund to help veterans, their families and descendants affected by nuclear tests.
Doug, who is a historian for the BNTVA, said he is currently doing research into civilian merchant ships and RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels) that were in the Pacific between 1952-1959 when nuclear testing was on-going.
He hopes to find the names of people who were on those ships as he believes they, too, may have been affected by atomic tests.