I am delighted that, after over 60 years of waiting, Christopher Jeffries has been awarded the Nuclear Test Medal, in recognition of his service in the Royal Air Force.
Christopher served in the Royal Air Force between 1955-60, and, between 1957-58 did two tours of duty on Christmas Island (now Kiribati), as a member of 49 Squadron, tasked with testing Britain's first Hydrogen bomb in a mission called Operation GRAPPLE. On the 15th May 1957, the squadron made history by successfully dropping the first British nuclear weapon with a yield in the megaton range.
Christopher approached me in January 2022, asking for my support in his effort to get recognition for those veterans who helped us test our new nuclear weapons, by way of a campaign medal.
I wrote to the Ministry of Defence on his behalf, and was delighted when, in November 2022, the Government announced a new medal to honour the service of veterans of Britain’s nuclear tests on ‘plutonium anniversary’.
In the Government's announcement to the House of Commons, I was joined by Johnny Mercer, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, in paying a huge tribute to Christopher for his service, and his effort in campaigning.
It is wonderful that Christopher and his colleagues have been recognised for their service, and I am delighted that I was able to support this worthy campaign.