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West Norfolk couple’s hopes to meet fellow nuclear bomb test veterans




Jean and Robert Fleming, who want to reach out to other people from the local area who were affected by the Christmas Island nuclear test bombings
Jean and Robert Fleming, who want to reach out to other people from the local area who were affected by the Christmas Island nuclear test bombings

A West Norfolk couple are hoping to reach out to other families affected by nuclear bomb tests carried out in the 1950s.

Jean Fleming, of Denver, says her husband Robert, a British nuclear test veteran, was in his early 20s when he was stationed on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean for 18 months while Operation Grapple was carried out.

Mr Fleming, 83, was one of thousands of servicemen who were exposed to radioactive material during the British Nuclear Testing Programme, which ran between 1952 and 1967.

“It was quite nasty. My husband was there for Operation Grapple X and Y. They wore bush hats, shorts and flip flops and they were told to turn their backs and cover their eyes,” Mrs Fleming said.

“They could see the bones right through their hands when the bomb went off. The Government said that they gave them protection – but that’s not protected.”

Mrs Fleming said her husband is “fairly well”, but he lost his teeth early and members of their family have had unexplained medical problems.

“It’s awful but you can’t do anything about it – it is what it is,” she added.

The pair are members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) – a charity which “represents all people who have worked with or alongside radioactive material for the benefit of this nation”.

They are hoping to speak with other people who were either themselves affected or are relatives of those who were.

“We are looking for more nuclear test veterans in the area, and we would like them to get in touch with us. My husband and I would like to meet people that were actually there or any members of their family,” Mrs Fleming added.

“A lot of people who were there have died young, and we haven’t met anybody from around here who was involved.”

If you can help the pair, contact them on rfleming2@sky.com or call them on 01366 388015.



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