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19th October 2023
Erskine Veteran finally awarded Christmas Island medal after 60-year wait for recognition
An Erskine veteran has been awarded a commemorative medal by the UK Government in recognition of his selfless service during nuclear testing on Christmas Island in the 1950s.
At a special ceremony, Jackson Hasson, a resident of The Erskine Home in Renfrewshire, was surrounded by his family and friends as the Nuclear Test Veterans Medal was presented to him, on behalf of His Majesty King Charles III, by the Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire Colonel Peter McCarthy.
The 86-year-old was just 21 when he joined the Royal Engineers as part of his National Service. He was subsequently assigned to the 73rd Christmas Island Squadron, which saw him travel over 8,000 miles from Glasgow to a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
During his time on Christmas Island, Jackson bore witness to two atomic bombs and three hydrogen bombs detonating just 20 miles offshore, whilst wearing nothing more than swimming shorts for protection. The magnitude of these tests, with the first atomic bomb, Grapple X, being 140 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, lays bare the immense risks servicemen faced during these Cold War experiments.
Jackson served as one of two engineers responsible for maintaining the boilers that fed the cookhouses in the Main Camp. His memories of the island are filled with unique experiences, from climbing coconut trees to swimming in the island's lagoon, where puffer fish would occasionally make an appearance.
In November 2022, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed Britain's nuclear test veterans at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where he announced the introduction of a medal to commemorate the service of those involved in the nuclear tests.
He emphasised their pivotal role in maintaining Britain's scientific and technological advantage during the height of the Cold War, preserving peace and the security of the country. This followed years of campaigning to recognise the sacrifice that many made, having been exposed to radiation and the health risks that followed.
While he suffers from several long-term health and mobility issues attributable to radiation exposure, Jackson’s family is grateful that he has finally received his medal in person.
Lesley Hasson, Jackson’s youngest daughter, said: "This is something he will be incredibly proud to be able to share with his friends and family, including his eight grandchildren and his great-grandson. My own children are 20 years old, and it's humbling to think of what an important service my dad and all these other servicemen were selflessly involved in for their country when they were all similar ages to my own kids now."
Erskine Chief Executive, Wing Commander Ian Cumming MBE said: “We are delighted that Jackson has finally received recognition from the government for his service on Christmas Island. As Erskine exists to recognise and support those who faced the complex risks of military service it is important that we continue to mark the service and sacrifice that the Christmas Island veterans made, while remembering the danger they faced without understanding the risks involved in their deployment.”
To find out more about Erskine Veterans Charity’s work please visit our website at www.erskine.org.uk, follow on twitter @ErskineCharity via Facebook www.facebook.com/ErskineVeteransCharity or listen to Erskine Veterans Radio at Erskine.org.uk/radio
To donate directly to Erskine, please visit Erskine.org.uk/donate.
Erskine Veterans Charity is the trading name of Erskine Hospital | Company No. SC174103 | Registered Charity SC006609