"More than 60 years ago, the UK ordered its servicemen to stand and watch as it exploded the deadliest weapons known to man. Today it is the last nuclear power on Earth to insist its radiation experiments were harmless. But a black cloud now hangs over 1,500 surviving veterans and an estimated 155,000 descendants. Mirror writer Susie Boniface, who has reported on the scandal since 2002, investigates six decades of denial…
…Building nuclear bombs is a dirty business. Britain was one of many countries to try, and one of the few to succeed.
A small nation, wracked by poverty and rationing, somehow defied American anger, Soviet spies and growing public outrage to create a bomb 100 times more powerful than those dropped on Japan.
But victory came at a price. More than 22,000 servicemen and scientists took part in bomb trials in Australia and the South Pacific, and just a handful are still alive. Their families report aggressive cancers, rare medical problems, high rates of miscarriage, and deformities, disability and death for their children – and grandchildren.
The UK is the last nuclear power on Earth to deny its bomb tests caused any harm. The Ministry of Defence insists hardly anyone was exposed.
But a black cloud still hangs over the 1,500 surviving veterans and an estimated 155,000 descendants. Many mistrust their government, fear every new pregnancy, and have laboured for decades with the growing belief that they were used as guinea pigs.
The psychological effect has been immense. Families also report suicides, marriage breakdowns, alcoholism and mental illness. Throughout it, the Ministry of Defence has fought its own veterans – arguing every war pension, fighting every court battle, and even denying the existence of documentary evidence only for it later to be found in their archives…"