Sol­dier’s fight for

Southern Gazette (Victoria Park) - - News - D481854 Gabrielle Jef­fery

Ray Whitby. FOR Ray Whitby, the legacy of sign­ing up to serve as a wide-eyed teenager has been a 20-year le­gal bat­tle for recog­ni­tion from his own gov­ern­ment.

Mr Whitby is the last sur­vivor of eight ser­vice­men sent to the Mon­te­bello Is­lands in 1958 to help sci­en­tists col­lect sam­ples from the area Bri­tain had used as an atomic weapons test­ing site.

Three sites were used for test­ing: Mar­alinga and Emu Field in South Aus­tralia, and the re­mote Mon­te­bello Is­lands off WA’s North-West coast.

Test­ing in the Mon­te­bel­los was done on two is­lands – Tri­mouille and Al­pha – which in 1956 be­came the site of the largest atomic bomb ever tested in Aus­tralia.

“The one in ’56 was known as ‘the dirty bomb’; 10 times more pow­er­ful than the one dropped on Na­gasaki, Ja­pan,” he said.

“We were the first ones to go in 1958 and were not told about the danger from ra­di­a­tion. When we ar­rived on the is­land, the sci­en­tist told me the Geiger counter was at the max­i­mum read­ing for ra­di­a­tion lev­els.

“The is­land was deadly and there we were in short sleeves and san­dals. There was no veg­e­ta­tion, no birdlife. We should have not been there; they knew

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie

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