Peter Gwilliam and the Hydrogen Bomb

Peter's daughter, Linda in Perth WA, has generously supplied copies of "The Lion" from 1943 to 1946 and provided this information about her father and his work with the Hydrogen Bomb testing of the 1950s.

Peter Gwilliam followed in the footsteps of his oldest brother, John

Gwilliam, and attended Prices School from1943-1946.

After leaving Prices, he was accepted into the Royal Air Force and began a 5 years apprenticeship at RAF Halton studying electrical aviation engineering. He passed out from Halton in December 1951 and began a career working with aeroplanes and travelling to many places around the world.

In 1956, he was sent to Australia to take part in the Atom Bomb tests that were held at the Monte Bellos islands north of Western Australia. He was stationed at the RAAF Pearce at Perth in April - August. In August 1956, he then went to South Australia to RAAF Edinburgh Field to be part of more 'A' bombs being tested at Maralinga in the South Australian desert.

During his time in Perth, he met a girl (my mother) and in November 1956, they were married in Perth. During 1957 and 1958 while still stationed in Adelaide, he was sent to Christmas Island (in the Pacific Ocean) for 3-4 months to be involved in 'H' Bomb explosions. During this time, he had to fly through the atomic clouds to take radiation samples etc. In March 1959, he returned to the UK together with his wife and 4-month baby (me).

The following two years were spent at RAT Colerne near Bath in Somerset.

In May 1961, when his time with the RAF ended, he returned to live in Perth, Australia with his wife and daughter. Three more children were born in the following years.

In October 1961, he started work with a West Australian airline called MMA, they were later taken over by Ansett Airlines and he was with them until he retired in July 1987.

In 1998, unfortunately he was diagnosed with cancer and, following an operation, spent 6 months having chemotherapy. He never really enjoyed good health again; more cancers and then dementia. Maybe it can be connected to the time he spent with radiation at the detonations. We will never know. Unfortunately, the bosses and the British Govt. involved in the tests did not want to discuss it

Dad died 10 September 2011. He was a very smart (good Prices education!), gentle and witty. His wife, four children and seven grandchildren miss him; sadly, he did not live to see the great-grandchildren who have since arrived.

Linda

Additional photographs and memorabilia may be found here....

 

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The Society of Old Priceans for staff and pupils of the former Prices Grammar School, Park Lane, Fareham, Hampshire founded 1721 demolished 1989.

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