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Nuclear test veteran: ‘We watched blasts in shorts – no wonder two-thirds of my family have birth defects’ via The Mirror

For decades, nuclear test veteran Bob Fleming believed what successive Governments told him.

The patriotic ex-RAF serviceman accepted their insistence that the blasts he witnessed caused him no harm.

Even as odd illnesses began to strike his children, Bob and his wife June just put it down to bad luck.
[…]
Now the couple want the official denials over the 1958 Christmas Island hydrogen bomb tests to end for good.

June, 74, says: “It’s a shocking figure. Every time there’s a pregnancy you say, ‘Oh blimey, is everything all right?’ You have to find a way to live with the worry because you’ve no choice.”

Just as there was no choice over witnessing the tests. Bob, now 80, says: “They never told us what was happening and never gave us protection. I watched the blasts in shorts and flip-flops.

“They told us to put our hands over our eyes and turn our back. Then the flash came, and you could see all the bones in your hand. There was a blast of heat and we were told to turn and look at the mushroom cloud.”

[…]
June and Bob’s last child was Suzanne. Now 50, she has only one working lung and extra bones in her knuckles and elbows. She has chronic breathing problems and despite being relatively young has been diagnosed with widespread osteoporosis.

It is so severe her jawbone is crumbling and will need to be replaced. Her teeth are falling out and she has blocked tear ducts and saliva glands. ­Tellingly, doctors have asked her if she’s ever been exposed to radiation, because that could explain her problems.

Suzanne has three children. One son has breathing problems and dyslexia. Another son had a pelvic deformity corrected as a child, and daughter Julie lost one twin to miscarriage and has another child with gastric reflux. June says: “How can anyone argue with all this? If it was just one thing, you’d think it was bad luck. But when you get so much of it all in one family you know something’s amiss. For years we believed what we were told, that it couldn’t be due to the bombs.”
[…]
Studies have shown children of British veterans have up to 10 times the normal rate of birth defects, elevated rates of miscarriage and six times the usual amount of leukaemia in their children. A large group of survivors are battling for war pensions and a High Court appeal is under way.

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