Too Little, Too Late? UK Defense Secretary to Meet 1950s Nuclear Test Veterans

Europe

UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged to meet veterans of Britain’s nuclear tests. While they may finally be honored for their sacrifices, the question of whether they will receive compensation remains open.

Speaking in the House of Commons June 11, Conservative MP John Hayes, patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, asked Williamson to meet with the surviving 1,500 (of 22,000) nuclear test veterans in the UK.

“This generation, by recognising and rewarding those brave people, would be doing a service to theirs-something of which we can be proud,” Hayes enquired.

In response, Williamson said he would be “honored” to meet with the veterans “at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The pledge comes a week after Parliament was presented with a petition calling for recognition for survivors of the 1950s nuclear trials, following a meeting between Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the veterans and their widows.

Guinea Pigs

The move has been welcomed by veterans and the families of deceased servicemen involved in the UK’s various nuclear trials alike. Among the latter camp is Shirley Denson, widow of Royal Air Force ace Eric, who participated in a key radiation experiment in 1958 — although a mere medal may be too little, too late in her case.

Eric was ordered to fly through the cloud of a thermonuclear explosion, as part of Operation Grapple — a series of British…

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