I was on of the original 73 (Christmas Island)  Sqd wh were sent to malden to prepare the sites for the AWRE personal, from living accommadation to the instrument sites.  We arrived in April 57, and were there for the first 3 Bombs that were dropped, all the following bombs were dropped on Christmas Is. after I left for UK. I still have the copy of the news sheet printed on the 15th May, which stated that it was the only paper to print the news of the first drop on the day it happeded. I originally Sailed fromUK for the Island on MV CHESHIRE, sailed form Christmas Is to Malden Is on HMS Messina on which I got my crossing the line certificate, and Came back to UK on the emigrant ship MV Cook,

If my mind serves me right, the I/c troops was a Captain Wadsworth RE, I was a Lcpl later Cpl RE, my role was mostly working with on specific young scientist who studied Gamma radiation, and had to make a Dugout protected by sand bags as the site would be closest to the blast centre off shore, I had a sapper working with me called I think McGinley, I still have a photo of him.

The thing I remember was the scientist telling us that they knew what was going to happen in theory, this was just to prove them correct. But to be on the safe side we had to strip everything down before each bomb, store it in Underground shelters ready to be put up when it had gone off, we came back to the Island next day to start work.

You could only get down about 6 to 8 feet before the dozer hit rock, so some bright spark had the idea to dig one large hole to put the Generators and similar equipment in, cover with tarpolians and the put sand on top. Problem was after the first bomb went off they forgot to mark the exact place to find it again. They eventually had to get the dozer to try and dig, as shovelling sand is no joke, its two up one back. I can tell you quite a lot of damage was caused, The picture I would have liked to have taken, was of a 3/4 ton commer pickup truck were its chassis hd bent to the ground with the weight of the dozer trundling over it.

I have many photos of my time there, not like today, phones Ipads etc, I had a box browny camera and had to sent them home to my mother who got them printed as contact prints and sent the back out to me. I must asy it took good pics that have enlarged very well.

If any one needs  any information or was their, please contact me I am now 78 and was 19 when I was there. I married in 1958, we had 3 sons one daughter, 6 grand children and 6 great grand children, all have been healthy,

I always say the service persnnel and civilians who were there for the first 3 bombs were the original guinea pigs. I must say I have heard a lot of rubbish talked about  the H bombs test. The Fact that they gave us all a small bage to pin on our shorts, these were collected once a week. I often wonder what would have happened if they had found anything showing up, I think it would have been a bit late by then.

I served for 22 years years and finished asa Warrant Officer 2



Chris Fish
Chris Fish's picture
Joined: 18/11/2011
Posts: 120

Hi Dave.

Great to read your experience of the North Pacific, Christmas Island and you knowing that you travelled the extra three hundred mile across the Pacific Ocean going South, crossing the Equator to the South Pacific, landing on Malden Island.  It seems that no one knows how the Island got it's name.  I wonder how Penrhyn got it's name ?

Like your self I have  often thought that some of the persons who were sent to the The North Pacific, Christmas Island did not know where they were sent to.  I have read and heard the statement that I (the person who wrote or made the verbal statement)  landed in Australia got on a plane and flew out to Christmas Island in the South Pacific.  What they really meant is that they flew to the Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean administered by Australia.  Nothing to do with the British Nuclear Tests.  Another statement made, we flew to Honolulu and on to Australia and as the other statement from Australia to Christmas Island.  A lot of old cobblers as one would have gone past Christmas Island, located 157 degrees West to 157 Degrees 30 minutes West and 0.9 degrees North.  In other word about 95 miles North of the Equator.  There is an article in the British Nuclear Veterans Association, written by the Eastern Daily Press that is incorrect.  Sorry the person is dead but the statement is that he went to the Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.  There is also a picture of the French Polynesian Test that they say is Christmas Island, North Pacific.  The BBC were not happy when I contacted them on their statement that Tests took place on the South Pacific Island, Christmas Island.  One would think that an organisation (or in my opinion disorganisation) would have made extensive research of the correct location.  We had to know while in the forces where we were going.

Have you read the book the Grapple and the Guinea Pig.  Written by Warren  Karno.  Warren was out at Malden Island at the time of the first dropping of the Hydrogen Bomb from the Valiants XD818, piloted by Wing Commander Ken Hubbard.  Release of the Bomb, it took fifty three seconds to reach three thousand feet above the sea at a place in space.  The grandstand aircraft was Valiant XD824, flew one mile behind and one thousand feet below.  Both aircraft had to make the escape manouver to avoid the over pressure from the bomb explosion.

I and my lady met Ken Hubbard back in the late 90's when we called into his Works and saw him as my lady was asking him if his company could make a pair of metal gates to prevent her dog getting out.  I did not know at the time that the man we were speaking to had been in RAF as Wing Commander Hubbard, with commendations.  He had in his works showroom office a dark brown dog at the time.  I do not know if the dog was Crusty.  Since knowing about Ken, I look at the gates in a different picture.  Ken passed away in 2004.  In early life he was educated at the THE CITY NORWICH SCHOOL.  His business was just in the old entrance to the Norwich Airport down Fifers Lane.  Turn left into the Industrial Estate and the road curve right and you are looking at the buildings on your left.  Still has Hubbard  Architectural Engineering and Reception above the door.  I have pictures of the building.  Like you, you are not fare away from me or The Norwich International Airport, though I am much closer at about 1 and quarter miles from the estate.

I would greatly like to see you at the NATIONAL SERVICE (RAF) ASSOCIATION - NORFOLK BRANCH.  Give a talk at some time to us members.  We do have member that have served in other Arm of the British Forces.  As you will see in my tribute, We all worked as One.

On this site I have uploaded pictures in the Galleries, ChrisFish(102).

You may already know about the books that I have read, though I enclose a list of the books you may like to look at or read.

Regard from me Chris Fish.

100 SUNS
Michael Light
Pictorial with notations at the end of book.
This is an Extra Large Book, it can be viewed in the American Memorial Library, The Forum, Norwich.  The Pictures can be seen by using the Internet. One can key in Christmas Island North Pacific In the search bar and click. (There are two Christmas Island's one North Pacific. Discovered by Captain Cook Christmas Eve 1777. In 1979 became Kiritimati (Kirimas) an Island of Republic Kiribati.  Pronounced in Gilbertese, Kiribass. One in the Indian Ocean, administrated by Australia.) Also key in Operation Grapple or British nuclear tests. Keying in the title of the books mentioned can bring results. There are also other phrases one can key in to do with the tests. IWM (Imperial War Museum) has DVD Operation Grapple video to view over Internet.  Look in Galleries at the photographs men who served on the Island have placed on their wall. Dave Rawlings (28) go to last picture. Then keep selecting previous. Pictures loaded in reverse. Anecdotes are another place to get the men's' feelings of their experience of the time served on Christmas Island. I think these books will show the development of Christmas Island and the story's of how the authors saw their part of 'Operation Grapple'. Christmas Island Cracker.
An Account of the Planning and Execution of The British Thermo-Nuclear Bomb Tests 1957
By Air Vice Marshall, Wilfrid E. Oulton CB CBE DSO DFC
Publisher: Thomas Harmsworth Publishing, London
ISBN 0-948807-04-0
Printed in Great Britain by The Bath Press, Avon. Dropping Britain's First H-Bomb.
This Publication of this edition is dedicated to Ken Hubbard.
The Story of Operation Grapple 1957 / 58
Group Captain Kenneth Hubbard OBE, DFC, AFC and Michael Simmons.
ISBN 987 1 84415 747 1
E-mail: Web site: CHRISTMAS ISLAND
ISBN 1 84426 128 X
Minerva Press
Published by: Upfront Publishing, Leicestershire MEGATON MORNINGS By Charles Hall
Published by Owl Press, P.O. Box 315 Downton, Salisbury, Wiltshire.  SP5 3YE
Printed in the UK by BPCC Wheatons Limited, Exeter
Publisher's ISBN: 1 898052 01 8 Charles Hall, service on the Island.  R.A.F. Signals Centre, Christmas Island 1962.  At the time of extensive nuclear tests by America and Britain.  One will find strong language used.  The Grapple and The Guinea Pig.  By Warren Karno. Review: 5 out of 5 stars No Grappling with the reading, 9 April 2014 By Christopher Fish
Amazon Verified Purchase.  This review is from: The Grapple and the Guinea Pig (Paperback) I looked forward to the book arriving and once I unpacked it and started reading, I found the book was hard to put down. Within a few days I had read Warrens story. I read Warren's The Grapple and The Guinea Pig with memories of the past, with joy. Having been posted to Christmas Island at a later date than Warren I found my self in memory back on the Island. Warren's writing is straightforward and descriptive that I felt the moment of the time and the aroma of the time. The mental picture of the situation is fantastic. As I proceeded through the pages I involuntary laughed, the words just painted a picture of his and other members of Operation Grapple in my mind. For a reader to get a plain written account of these men's time in a Historical Situation is great and the reader will, I am sure, get a picture in ones mind, of desert islands many miles apart and Men afloat on ships at a historical moment! A 'Great' Book. At this time of year we think of Christmas and Christmas Island has it's own song. CHRISTMAS ISLAND SONG.
Let's get away from sleigh bells, let's get away from snow.
Let's make a break some Christmas, Dear, I know the place to go.How'd ya like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?
How'd ya like to spend the holiday away across the sea?
How'd ya like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?
How'd ya like to hang a stocking on a great big coconut tree? How'd ya like to stay up late, like the islanders do?
Wait for Santa to sail in with your presents in a canoe.
If you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island.
You will never stray for everyday.
Your Christmas dreams come true. How'd ya like to stay up late like the islanders do?
Wait for Santa to sail in with your presents in a canoe.
If you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island
You will never stray, for everyday.
Your Christmas dreams come true.
On Christmas Island your dreams come true.    

Hi Paul and Dennis,

Thanks for your mail.  Pleased to see that you have obtained some details that will allow you to track back on one of the routes taken to Christmas Island.

Just would like to point out if you have not tried look

Joined: 13/11/2017
Posts: 1

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