A former National Serviceman who was part of a team that helped test Britain’s first nuclear weapons has finally been honoured.
Michael Maddox has received his Veterans Badge from the Ministry of Defence, thanks to the efforts of Kerry Young from Telford care home Myford House.
The 77-year-old had begun sharing the story of his time on Christmas Island with Kerry, who wondered why he had not received recognition for his bravery in protecting the components for Britain’s first hydrogen bombs.
With permission from Michael’s daughter Debbie Thomas, Kerry got in touch with the Royal British Legion who directed her to the MOD Medal Office, who recently sent Michael his Veterans Badge.
Kerry, Activities Manager at Myford House in Woodlands Lane, Horsehay, said: “Michael told me all about his time on Christmas Island and how he used to write love letters to his wife Marjorie, who sadly passed away some years ago.
“His story was fascinating and I was so captivated by it. He was part of a team that had to keep the right temperature for all the parts to a 100 megaton bomb that the army was testing. Without him and his colleagues, Britain would not have developed a nuclear weapon and the whole Cold War could have been different.”
Michael was part of Operation Grapple on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean in 1958. He was called up to National Service in 1956 and did three years as a Regular in the Royal Engineers, completing his basic training at Farnborough and then passing out as a field engineer with the rank of Sapper.
At the time Russia had also been conducting nuclear weapons tests. Michael worked with the Main Camp Fridge Team where servicemen had to follow strict health and safety instructions as they risked being blinded by the intense light from test explosions.
Kerry added: “Michael has only recently started talking to us about Christmas Island and I suggested he should write it up. I felt his story needed to be told and I know his family will treasure it.
“When he received his badge, his first response was ‘awesome’. All the staff and residents are delighted for him. It was an emotional moment.”
Michael said: “I’m not saying I was a hero, but those of us situated on Christmas Island were subjected to close range exposure to five nuclear bomb tests. We were part of history in the making.”
Myford House is an exclusive development registered for 57 residents who want to spend their retirement in privacy and comfort.
Situated on the edge of Lightmoor Village, it offers 24-hour care, quality accommodation to meet the needs of elderly adults and provides the setting for long or short stays, whether for personal, respite or convalescent care.