Erskine resident receives Nuclear Test Veterans Medal for service during 1950s

Jackson Hasson, an Erskine veteran, has just been awarded his commemorative medal by the UK Government. In recognition of his selfless service during nuclear testing on Christmas Island in the 1950s.

Photos and medals of Royal Engineer veteran Jackson Masson

The 86-year-old was 21 when he joined the Royal Engineers as part of his National Service. He was subsequently assigned to the 73rd Christmas Island Squadron.

This meant he travelled over 8,000 miles from Glasgow to a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

At a special ceremony, Jackson, a resident of The Erskine Home in Renfrewshire, was surrounded by his family and friends.

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.

Royal Engineer veteran Jackson Masson received the “Nuclear Test Veterans Medal”. Jackson was presented his medal on behalf of King Charles III by the Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire Colonel Peter McCarthy

During his time on Christmas Island, Jackson witnessed two atomic bombs and three hydrogen bombs detonating 20 miles offshore.

He was wearing swimming shorts for protection.

The first atomic bomb, Grapple X, was 140 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, demonstrating the immense risks servicemen faced during 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.

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.

Royal Engineer veteran Jackson Masson holds his medal up.

Erskine Chief Executive, Wing Commander Ian Cumming MBE shared:

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.

In November 2022, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed Britain’s nuclear test veterans at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. He announced the introduction of a medal to commemorate the service of those involved in the nuclear tests.

The Prime Minister 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.