I was particularly interested in your article regarding the veteran receiving his nuclear test medal, I believe the barrage balloon method of testing the hydrogen bomb, was devised but never used seriously, this, prior to the earlier hydrogen tests at Maralinger, Australia. 

The two principle islands used were Malden island and Christmas Island. There were nine tests in total.

Commencing in May 1957, there being three megaton bomb detonations off of Malden island, followed by a further six tests at Christmas Island, the latter compromising of four megaton bombs and two kiloton bomb detonations. 

Read more: Former RAF serviceman receives medal for nuclear testing

I served on Christmas Island for ten months. We lived under canvas.

The island itself is a coral atoll barely above 15 feet sea level at its highest point, vegetation consisting mainly of coconut palm plantations and scrub, used by the many thousands of frigate sea birds there for roosting, nesting and other wildlife consisting of large numbers of large land crabs and hermit crabs. 

The ground consisted mainly of dead coral which proved to be a good foundation for building the necessary airstrip. I purchased seeds while in Honolulu, the intention being to grow salad crops -unsuccessfully. I have to say, the ground and many lagoons on the island were highly saline. 

Information given to us as serving personnel was 'all tests were atmospheric'.

Bombs were detonated at 8000 metres above ground level, this to eliminate possible fall-out and damage to the islands. As most historians will know the issue became controversial.

Later on, I attended several veteran reunions at Weston-Super-Mare , enjoying a special occasion, meeting up with many of my old comrades and contemporaries, alas, our numbers having dwindled the last meeting being a few years ago. 

I was delighted to hear some years later that the Gilbertese Islanders had been repatriated to Christmas Island but disappointed information-wise that the island name had been changed to Kiritimati.

Captain Cook had discovered the island on Christmas Day 1771 hence naming it such, seems nothing is sacred anymore.

I would think perhaps a Gilbertese choice as opposed to history nevertheless, I understand they continue to live happily on their island - with no ill effects which is pleasing. 

Now in my latter eighties, I received my Nuclear Test medal and citation via Royal Mail from the Ministry of Defence in October, wore it for the first time as a member of our Royal British Legion at St Mary's Church, Fordingbridge, on Remembrance Sunday parade. 

Bertram J Jerrard

28th Royal Engineer Regiment Reconnaissance

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