Operation Hurricane Detonation

Widow Claims RAF Pilot Husband Was Ordered To Fly Through Thermonuclear Cloud

Operation Hurricane Detonation

The widow of a former RAF pilot claims to have obtained secret documents that show her husband was ordered to fly through the cloud of a thermonuclear explosion over Christmas Island in the Pacific.

If the claim is well founded, it would be evidence that British nuclear test pilots were deliberately exposed to radiation in experiments during the Cold War.

Shirley Denson, 83, said her husband Eric suffered from crippling headaches after being exposed to radiation, which became so bad he later killed himself, the Mirror reports.

The paper also reports that two of their four daughters were born with abnormalities.

Politicians have called for answers from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the claims.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson described the documents as "shocking", and said the Defence Secretary should issue an unqualified apology to Mrs Denson in the Commons.

He told the paper:

"We need answers about what experiments were conducted, and how many of the 22,000 nuke vets were involved in them."

Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffiths said they were "deeply worrying revelations" and called for them to be investigated by the MoD.

The department has denied claims the pilots were subject to an experiment to test the effects of radiation, and maintains there is no valid evidence to link the programme with ill health.

According to the Mirror, the documents revealed Flight Lieutenant Denson had flown his Canberra B6 bomber into the mushroom cloud of a 2.8 megaton nuclear explosion on April 28, 1958, with X-ray badges on the seat to measure radiation.

He was reportedly exposed to 65 years' worth of normal background radiation during the six-minute flight.

Mrs Denson told the paper:

"It's absolutely wicked. It's evil. To see it in black and white after all these years took my breath away... It seems our government used and abused its own men."

Journalist Susie Boniface, Mirror Columnist, has been investigating the story for sixteen years.

She described the latest findings as "old evidence, that we've just found."

When discussing the amount of radiation a pilot had endured when he flew through the 'mushroom cloud' she said:

"It's equivalent of about 65 years worth of background radiation - to have the same dose you would need to have 17,500 x-rays."

Douglas Hern was just a 21-year-old naval cook when he was caught up in an explosion on Christmas Island - he thinks the evidence is damning:

The MoD said the flight was carried out to determine the best possible arrangement on the body of dosemeters - devices which measure radiation - so that the men's exposure could be measured as accurately as possible.

A spokesman said:

"It is not true to say that these men were subject to an experiment to look at the effects of radiation.

“The British nuclear testing programme contributed towards keeping our country secure during the Cold War and regular health checks were conducted throughout.

"The National Radiological Protection Board has carried out three studies of nuclear test veterans and found no valid evidence to link participation in this programme to ill health."

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