30 January 2009
Ex-soldier fights for compensation over alleged nuclear tests damage
A former soldier who was stationed on Christmas Island when Britain tested nuclear weapons in the 1950s is among those seeking compensation over alleged ill-effects.
Robert Harvey claims that he developed cataracts at a very early age as a result of his exposure to radiation during the tests, Fenland Today reports.
The 70-year-old was called up for National Service at the age of 19 and was sent to the island, which is situated off the west coast of Australia in the South Pacific.
While there, he witnessed the testing of the Grapple Y and Grapple Z weapons.
Commenting on the experience, he said: "We watched them detonate this bomb. To start with we faced it and counted down from ten to zero and then turned our backs to the blast.
"I could feel the heat like an electric fire on my back. We then counted back up from zero to ten and turned round again."
According to Mr Harvey, during the first test, he was dressed in a pair of shorts, regulation boots and a floppy hat.
He is a member of the British Nuclear Test Veterans' Association, which is suing the government.