Commonwealth Veterans Urged to Claim Nuclear Test Medals

  • Nuclear test programme veterans, civilian staff and their descendants urged to come forward and claim commemorative medals
  • Around 22,000 military personnel and civilian staff from the UK and Commonwealth nations are thought to be eligible
  • Due to be rolled out from late summer, the medal recognises the critical role of veterans and civilian staff contribution to the UK’s nuclear deterrent testing programme in the 1950s and 1960s

In recognition of their significant contribution to the UK’s nuclear deterrent testing programme, potentially thousands of veterans and civilian staff, and next of kin, across the UK and Commonwealth can now apply for a commemorative medal.

From late summer, the UK Government will be issuing Nuclear Test Medals to eligible service personnel and civilian staff, including posthumous awards to next of kin.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer said:

This important step moves us closer to recognising the work of those civilians and veterans who played a critical role in establishing the UK’s nuclear deterrent and contributing to our enduring international security.

I strongly encourage all eligible veterans and civilian staff to apply for the award, which demonstrates the important role they played in making the UK the third nuclear power, and wear their new medals with pride.

The medal will be awarded free of charge to individuals who participated in the UK Nuclear Test Programme, including the preparatory and clear-up phases, from 1952 to 1967.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

Nuclear Test Veterans have made an invaluable contribution to the safety and security of the UK and it’s right that we recognise and value their enduring service to our nation.

The medal also recognises the contribution made by veterans and civilian staff from across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Kiribati. All service personnel and civilians under UK command, including close partners from the Commonwealth and Pacific region, who participated in, or were present at, the British or American nuclear tests at the Montebello Islands, Christmas Island, Malden Island and Maralinga & Emu Field, South Australia between 1952 and 1967 will be eligible for the medal. This also includes scientists and local employees.

To further recognise the contribution of veterans of Britain’s nuclear tests, the government invested £450,000 into projects which will commemorate and build further understanding of the experiences of veterans who were deployed to Australia and the Pacific.

As part of that funding, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs is launching an oral history project to chronicle the voices and experiences of those who supported the UK’s effort to develop a nuclear deterrent.

Due to start in April 2023, the project will run for two years, giving nuclear test veterans the opportunity to be interviewed, and contribute to an accessible digital archive of testimonies about their time working on the tests.

A further £200,000 fund was launched in February 2023, to support community projects designed to provide bespoke direct support to Nuclear Test Veterans and their families, memorialise and raise public awareness of their service.


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