Bedford serviceman finally wins medal after risking his life on Christmas Island during nuclear weapon tests in the 50s

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“I could actually see all the bones of my hand and arm, just like an X-ray”

A Bedford serviceman has won a fight which has been going on for 60 years.

Jon Miles was one of the many servicemen stationed in the Christmas Island for the nuclear weapon tests in the late 1950s.

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And now a medal has finally been issued by the Ministry of Defence – after years long campaigning by John Morris and Alun Owen – to recognise the debt owed to those who put their lives at risk to enable Great Britain to perfect their nuclear defence during the Cold War.

Jon Miles with his medal from the Ministry of DefenceJon Miles with his medal from the Ministry of Defence
Jon Miles with his medal from the Ministry of Defence

Thousands of those servicemen have suffered in later life from the effects of nuclear radiation which has also been passed to their children – no special clothing or radiation meters were issued to the servicemen, they just wore their normal tropical uniforms.

On receiving his award, Jon – of Elstow – said: “I was in the Royal Air Force and served in Christmas Island from 1958 to 1959 during which time I saw two A-bombs and two H-bombs detonated. I remember we were told to stand with our back to the explosion and wait until the blinding flash happened, a thousand times brighter than the sun, then wait for the rush of wind before we could turn around.

“I had put my hands over my eyes and could actually see all the bones of my hand and arm, just like an X-ray. Amazing. And like thousands of others I was just wearing shorts, flip flops and a floppy hat.

“I am pleased to have received the medal but also conscious that thousands have died before they could receive theirs, this final battle could have been settled so long ago”.

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