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Atom bomb test veteran’s Remembrance Sunday preparations at Welsh care home

28 Oct 2022 4 minute read
Pendine Park Bryn Seiont Newydd resident Stanley Craig who was in the Royal Engineers in the late 1950s making poppies for Remembrance Sunday, pictured with care practitioner Karen Jones. Picture: Mandy Jones. Inset: The atomic bomb detonated 20 miles from Christmas Island.

An atomic bomb test veteran is leading the preparations for Remembrance Sunday at the Welsh care home where he now lives.

Stanley Craig suffered from cancer after being used by the British authorities as a human guinea pig to assess the effects of radiation from hydrogen bombs detonated in the Pacific Ocean in the late 1950s.

As a 24-year-old soldier with the Royal Engineers, Stanley was on Christmas Island, now known as Kirimati in the Gilbert and Ellice islands, while the thermonuclear device was dropped from a Valiant bomber only 20 miles away.

Stanley, now 89, is resident at Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd care home on the outskirts of Caernarfon and has been helping other residents paint colourful poppies to be display in communal areas and lounges throughout the home.

His son Gerald said his father often spoke of his experiences during those tests.

“He joined the Royal Engineers as a young man and was one of hundreds of men posted to Christmas Island. We have pictures of him at work on the island doing construction work prior to one of the tests.

“Just before the bomb was detonated the men were told to turn their backs and shield their eyes with their hands. He said there was a bright flash and a very loud bang. The flash was so bright he could see the bones in his hands.

“He enjoyed his time on the island, it was an adventure for a young man, but little did he know what would happen to him later. He suffered from lymphoma but he got through that after an operation,” said Gerald.

A newspaper cutting with picture of Stanley Craig (front left) with fellow Royal Engineers on their way home from Christmas Island.

‘Jock the Milk’

Originally from Dundee in Scotland, Stanley was sent to Llanberis in early 1958 to help build pontoons on Llyn Padarn for the rowing events during the Empire Games which were mostly held in Cardiff.

It was during this time that he met Audrey, who he later married, and they had two sons, Gerald and Andrew. She joined him on some overseas postings including one to Kenya said Gerald.

“They returned to Caernarfon where he had a variety of jobs including building houses in Felinheli and Caernarfon and as a milkman. He was known as Jock the Milk while he did that.

“He was the landlord of several pubs in Caernarfon including the Morgan Lloyd and the Anglesey Arms. He was publican at the Harp for 15 years. He worked until he was 77 years of age, it’s what he did,” said Gerald.

Care practitioner Karen Jones said: “Residents really enjoyed working on the poppies and they are now ready to be put on display around the home.”

‘Display of respect’

Bryn Seiont Newydd manager Sandra Evans said the arts and culture have always been an integral part of everything they do to enrich the lives of residents and staff alike and keeping residents busy and engaged was vitally important.

She said: “Most of us will wear a poppy with pride and as a clear display of our respect for all those who have served their country and their nation to help uphold the rights we sometimes take for granted.

“The poppy drawings and paintings made by Stanley and the other residents on show all around the home are really colourful and a beautiful way of remembering the service of military veterans.

“As a community, solidarity is one of our core values and we believe strongly that this act of remembrance is a key demonstration of that value, that we as community, hold in such high regard.

“Remembrance Day is an occasion we always mark here at Bryn Seiont Newydd by taking part in the two-minute silence at 11am.”

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Syr Wynff ap Concor Y Boss
Syr Wynff ap Concor Y Boss
1 year ago

I remember Stan when he was a landlord in the Black Lion in Pwllheli. Lovely man, and his lovely wife too.

1 year ago

My dad was stationed on Christmas Island a few months after the bomb test. He told me the would regularly eat fresh fish they’d caught in the sea and coconuts ect . He also had a great adventure. Later, he did a stint underground smoked and did bar work when you could barely see to the other and of the bar for smoke. That said, I sometimes wonder about the possibility of the effects of the test.

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