Pathfinder International Press Release
A former Royal Engineer from Salford has seen his story about National Service told in new forces’ magazine – Left Right Left.
Jack Pilkington, 84, resides at Broughton House, the North West’s veteran’s care village, which has been housing former members of the Armed Forces since 1916.
Jack’s story was included as part of a debate on National Service, following a YouGov poll highlighting that the majority of 18-24 year olds are opposed to bringing back the idea of national conscription.
Left Right Left, a new national military memories magazine, found inside of long standing forces’ publication, Pathfinder International, focussed on the hot topic of National Service for their new issue.
Amongst the coverage was Jack’s story of his two years with the Royal Engineers, in which he was posted to Christmas Island, 200 miles from Hawaii, as Jack takes up the story.
“I did my National Service between 1956 and 1958, where my job at the time was working in the drawing office in Trafford Park at a firm that manufactured steel framed buildings.
By the time I came to do National Service, I had been studying at Salford Technical College and I was to join the Royal Engineers.
Fast forward a bit and with 6 months to go of service, we were issued with tropical kit and reported into London airport and we flew off with BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) to New York and then it was United Airlines from New York to Chicago and then onto San Francisco and finally onto Honolulu, slap bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
We were there for about two or three weeks, when we got on board a troop ship and sailed south for three days to a coral island called Christmas Island.
Eventually before we left we were invited to assemble at one end of the island in our tropical gear, complete with goggles and we were given a two minute countdown and then there was this blast, it turns out a balloon had flown over the island and out to sea, where subsequently there was a hydrogen bomb dropped, so the heat from that was such, that even with the goggles on, you had to put your hands over your eyes and it was quite a blast and an experience.”
Left Right Left editor, Mal Robinson added, “It was amazing to visit Broughton House and Jack’s story about Christmas Island was something I didn’t expect to hear, not for someone serving on National Service anyway! It was a privilege to be in his and the other veterans’ company; it was like speaking to living history, very humbling, very surreal.”
Operation Grapple was the name of four series of British nuclear weapons tests of early atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs carried out in 1957 and 1958 at Malden Island and Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean as part of the British hydrogen bomb programme.
Read Jack’s full story for free inside the latest edition of Left Right Left here: http://bit.ly/PFMar18