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The British Nuclear Test Veteran: Radiation, Activism, and the Soldier’s Body, 1952 - 2002

The British Nuclear Test Veteran: Radiation, Activism, and the Soldier’s Body, 1952 - 2002
The British Nuclear Test Veteran: Radiation, Activism, and the Soldier’s Body, 1952 - 2002
This thesis explores the experiences of British servicemen who served at nuclear testing sites in the South Pacific and Australia during Britain’s nuclear testing programme. It examines how the perception of radiation exposure shaped the development of a distinct community of British nuclear test veterans during the second half of the twentieth century. This thesis argues that British nuclear test veterans have faced considerable adversity as a result of their service, through later ill health and psychological trauma. This trauma has been exacerbated by veterans’ treatment by the British government, who have consistently blocked their legal and political attempts to gain compensation for the health consequences of perceived radiation exposure. In joining together to form a community in the 1980s under the banner of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, these men and their families have highlighted the continuing legacy of Britain’s Cold War operation decisions. But their use of narratives of personal suffering to further their political aims also reveals a story of resilience, and serves as a reminder of the authority of personal experience. In tracing the history of this unique community, therefore, this thesis addresses the ongoing legacy of British nuclear testing and military service, and makes an important contribution to the social history of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme and British military culture.
University of Southampton
Bowler, Fiona, Jayne
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Bowler, Fiona, Jayne
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Oliver, Kendrick
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Riley, Charlotte
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Bowler, Fiona, Jayne (2022) The British Nuclear Test Veteran: Radiation, Activism, and the Soldier’s Body, 1952 - 2002. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 299pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis explores the experiences of British servicemen who served at nuclear testing sites in the South Pacific and Australia during Britain’s nuclear testing programme. It examines how the perception of radiation exposure shaped the development of a distinct community of British nuclear test veterans during the second half of the twentieth century. This thesis argues that British nuclear test veterans have faced considerable adversity as a result of their service, through later ill health and psychological trauma. This trauma has been exacerbated by veterans’ treatment by the British government, who have consistently blocked their legal and political attempts to gain compensation for the health consequences of perceived radiation exposure. In joining together to form a community in the 1980s under the banner of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, these men and their families have highlighted the continuing legacy of Britain’s Cold War operation decisions. But their use of narratives of personal suffering to further their political aims also reveals a story of resilience, and serves as a reminder of the authority of personal experience. In tracing the history of this unique community, therefore, this thesis addresses the ongoing legacy of British nuclear testing and military service, and makes an important contribution to the social history of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme and British military culture.

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Fiona Bowler - Thesis - The British Nuclear Test Veteran - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only until 24 March 2025.
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
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Fiona Bowler Permission to Deposit Thesis Form
Restricted to Repository staff only
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.

More information

Submitted date: January 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 457017
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/457017
PURE UUID: 21b05a17-8a43-4286-8932-fa91c6f4d4a6
ORCID for Kendrick Oliver: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1603-1154

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 19 May 2022 16:45
Last modified: 20 May 2022 01:33

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Contributors

Thesis advisor: Kendrick Oliver ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Charlotte Riley

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