Nuclear test widow is looking for answers

Widow Rose Crompton, from Leyland
Widow Rose Crompton, from Leyland

The widow of a nuclear testing veteran who died from cancer in 2005 says she and other widows are still fighting for compensation.

Rose Crompton fears her husband’s exposure to radiation may have contributed to the leukaemia which killed their daughter Hilary when she was just 28.

Now Rose, 74, from West Paddock, Leyland, says she just wants to know why a £25m compensation claim by families of the veterans - many of whom have suffered birth defects as a result of exposure to radiation - is still not resolved.

She said: “I have been angry but what can you do? I’m not interested in the money - all I want is answers.”

Rose’s husband James was among hundreds of veterans to serve on Christmas Island, mainland Australia and Montabello islands in the 1950s and 60s during Britain’s nuclear testing.

James was discharged from the Royal Engineers with no home or pension after a routine blood test showed abnormalities in his cells, within months of returning from Australia.

Veterans describe seeing mushroom clouds and flashes so bright they could see the bones in their hands but were given no protective clothing and were told to turn their backs when the blast went off.

Rose’s pleas come after the prime minister recognised the contribution the servicemen had made to the country’s security

David Cameron said: “This Government absolutely recognises and is extremely grateful to all the service personnel who participated in the nuclear testing programme.

“We should be in no doubt that their selfless contribution actually helped to make sure the UK is equipped with the deterrent that we need.”

The PM said he would “ask more questions” but the compensation claim still lies unresolved, six months on.

Sir Nick Harvey, who was Armed Forces Minister until 2012, said the moral failure to help the veterans’ children who have 10 times the normal rate of birth defects “reflects badly on us as a nation.”

Veterans can contact campaigner Joe Hindle on 01772 745518.