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Nuclear test veterans recognised in the Senedd for their sacrifices

21 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Mabon ap Gwynfor speaking in the Senedd. Christmas Island Nuclear test. Photo by kitmasterbloke is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Plaid Cymru is calling for a national apology for veterans of nuclear testing and their families – seventy years after the UK’s first atomic bomb.

Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Mabon ap Gwynfor urged the Welsh Government to use the powers available to them to formally recognise the sacrifices of those involved in nuclear testing.

Only around 1,500 of the 22,000 men who took part in more than 600 trial explosions are thought to be still alive.

Many of the scientists and engineers based at Aldermaston were from Wales and formed part of William Penney’s team producing the first UK nuclear device tested at Monte Bello in 1952.


Those who took part in experiments at Monte Bello, Christmas Island, Maralinga, Malden Island and Emu Field were exposed to high levels of radiation with little protective equipment.

It’s thought the surrounding lands of the indigenous people who had lived there for several millennia are still contaminated.

Speaking in the Senedd, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS called on the Welsh government to issue a Statement of Support for nuclear test veterans and work to ensure those involved in nuclear testing and their families are duly compensated for their sacrifices.

Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “I’d like to ask for a statement on support for veterans of atomic bomb testing, as 2022 marks the Plutonium Jubilee, 70 years since the first UK atomic bomb tests.

“Scores of the people that participated in those tests – military veterans, scientists, indigenous peoples and their families have suffered immeasurably.

“Not one of those people have been given the correct recognition for their sacrifices.”


Mabon ap Gwynfor MS added that a commitment from the UK government to award nuclear test veterans with a medal for their sacrifice along with an apology was long overdue.

He said: “The horrors of nuclear testing will forever live on in the memory of those veterans still alive, and with their families – many of whom continue to suffer the effects of those early nuclear experiments; a greater likelihood of dying from cancer, suffer miscarriages and birth defects in their children.

“Alongside a national apology, of paramount importance is investment in an educational programme, based on real life testimonies from veterans of the nuclear programme, so that future generations are fully informed of the immeasurable suffering caused by nuclear weapons and radiation.”

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

My grandfather served in WWII, in the Navy. He was at Dunkirk, sailed around the world blowing up Nazis, he was part of Overlord too. He had medals and all of these cool and humorous scrolls they used to do in the Navy when you did things like circumnavigating the globe, and other nautical stuff….and to reward him for all that service and bravery, they nuked him….and on the night of the day his sixteen-year-old daughter pregnant daughter (my mum) found him dead in bed after losing his fight with cancer, the day before my birthday, people from some department… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

Good man Mabon…

I found an account by a senior vet on the net that was an eye opener then I read several memoirs by senior people in the military, the ‘boys own’ styles vary but the boots on the deck, the services, just got on with the job, for some that meant being blast test guinea pigs. Operation Grapple is one key to this ‘remarkable’ period in Britain’s early post war strategy…

Our ‘betters’ playing fast and lose with those who work for them, just like today…

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