Peter Brook signed up at 16 and trained as an engineer in the Army College at Chatham’s School of Military Engineering.
In 1956 he began a three-month trip on board HMS Devonshire to Christmas Island, now known as Kiritimati.
He left in 1957 after 12 months, having witnessed two nuclear weapon tests, but returned in 1958 and spent 12 months on Christmas Island. He left again in 1959 and was de-mobbed in 1960.
Nine nuclear detonations took place during Operation Grapple – four during Mr Brook’s service.
232 British Army officers, 266 RAF, 196 Navy, three British civilians, 189 Fujians, six Fujian civilians and 129 New Zealand servicemen are taking on the Government in a claim for compensation.
The USA, Canada, France and China have already agreed to pay compensation to their soldiers involved in nuclear testing.
HE witnessed four nuclear weapon tests on the idyllic Christmas Island.
Peter Brook was in the Army and just 19 when he was sent in 1956 to the Pacific island where the bombs were tested.
The Almondbury man, now 74, was given protective clothing for just one of the four Operation Grapple nuclear tests he witnessed.
Years later, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, prompted, he says, by the exposure to the radiation.
Now Mr Brook, who went on to become a Huddersfield detective, is one of around 1,000 veterans who have suffered ill health and are making a claim against the Government with the help of the Atomic Veterans’ group.
Ahead of a Supreme Court ruling in the case, the former corporal said: “For the first test they gave us all-in-one white suites, goggles, gloves and boots, all in white.”
“They told us to set up on the beach facing the landing crafts where the Marines had put the ramps down.
“That was because if the wind was to change it could blow the wrong way and we’d have to make a hasty retreat to the landing crafts which had their engines running.
“Everybody assembled at Port London, a couple of miles away from the airstrip. We saw the plane go up into the sky, a bright object fell from the plane and that was the bomb. When it exploded we had to turn away, cover our face and hunch away from the blast.
“You could feel the blast, you heard the blast, then you could feel the heat. It blew my tent away – we were about 12 miles away from it but in eyesight.
“We could turn back and see the cloud and watched it develop and the mushroom came up. The Met boys got the wind direction right and it went away from us.”
He estimated there were around 400 troops on the beach with him that day, adding: “We were military guys, it was a military operation, I don’t think people were worried about it then.”
Mr Brook saw the bombs drop three more times during two stints on Christmas Island – but the white protective clothing was not distributed. Instead troops wore their own clothes and stayed at their tented base.
“I think later on people were saying there were health impacts, but the officers were busily saying there wasn’t – the irony of it is they didn’t know.
“I thought my skin would have started dropping off right then if there was something wrong.
“But the radiation would have dropped over the sand, in the water and the fish I was eating. It was contaminating the land, how could it not affect me? I didn’t think then what could go wrong.”
It was in 2004 that Mr Brook, husband to Pauline and father to three, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He had the tumour removed then later his bladder removed.
He believes the Government should accept their responsibility towards the veterans. The UK Government is the only one in the western world to refuse to pay compensation to those stationed on Christmas Island.
The Government has argued too much time has passed for the veterans to bring a case, but in June, 2009, a High Court judge ruled the ill soldiers should have their case heard.
The Government appealed and won, but the case has gone to the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on it later this month.
Mr Brook said: “I went out as a 19-year-old and I’m 74 now. They probably think if they can hold us off a bit longer they’ll have some luck and won’t have to pay at all.”