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Ex-543 Sqn Concerns

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Ex-543 Sqn Concerns

Old 23rd Mar 2008, 15:38
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Portsmouth, Hampshire
Age: 70
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Unhappy Ex-543 Sqn Concerns

This my first post on PPRuNe - normally on E-Goat but dip my toe in your water now and again, if you pardon the expression! I felt I hag to join PPRuNe today to post this.

I received the following from a member of my Halton Entry.

The content is both disturbing and poinient.

If anyone has any knowlegde or info, pm me and I will forward the mail th Chris.

Good morning everybody and a very Happy Easter to one and all.

I have just received a very disturbing email from an old colleague who served on 543 Squadron. Not to put too fine a point on it and to get straight the point, it seems that there is an unbelievably high incidence of various forms of cancer rearing its ugly head among ex Squadron members, both ground and air crews, particularly among those of us who were unlucky enough to have to work on, fly in, or clean, aircraft which had been detached to Peru air sampling after the various atomic tests which took place in the South Pacific late 60s, early 70s. The most disturbing part is that it doesn't only affect direct personnel, both their family members too. You may recall that Nessa and our lost our youngest, Charlotte, through leukaemia. Radiation sickness can work through genetic means too. Those aircraft were when they came back from Peru, literally red hot radioactive. None of us was ever given any protective clothing, dosimeters or any warnings about the hazards from the aircraft. People on the detachments used to simply change the filter baskets without any protection. When the aircraft were washed at home, the contaminated water was just allowed to run down the drains with no thought as to where the stuff would end up. All we got was a rubber Zoot Suit and a pair of wellies. We were not even told to shower thoroughly afterwards or even to wash our hands before eating from the NAAFI Wagon which came out to us on the wash pan, or before having a fag!.

So an important question has to be asked. Did anyone from the 204th other than me and Mick Elliott ever get posted to 543? Or do any of you know anyone other than us two who were stationed at Wyton on 543 at any time? If you do, can you please let me know who they are and where they can be contacted. There is a scheme being put together by some retired Group Captain to take the MOD to the cleaners over this. There have been vast numbers of deaths already either directly or indirectly resulting from the MOD's callousness in the simple matter of protecting personnel from danger. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 3rd in Birmingham for about 12 cases. I've just been informed that I too have a case which must be answered by the MOD.

Please chaps, put your thinking caps on and if you can think of anything which may help, get immediately back in touch with me with any info which you may have. I cannot stress stringly enough the importance of this. It could be a matter of life and death. The guy who has contacted me is suffering from Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma which if you don't already know is a type of leukaemia related cancer affecting the lymphatic system.

Thanks lads. Bless you all.

Chris the Sage >>>

Thanks all
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Old 23rd Mar 2008, 20:00
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TAC Int Bloke
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Can't offer any help but good luck
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Old 23rd Mar 2008, 20:38
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Eeeeeeek... I was 219th entry and 543 sqdn was my first posting in 1972.
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Old 23rd Mar 2008, 20:53
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also ex 543 . . . .


I have emailed you through PPRuNe as I'm also ex 543 Squadron.

- countertorque -
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Old 24th Mar 2008, 09:09
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Chris, like myself was in the 204th and he was rigger while in the mob.
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Old 24th Mar 2008, 09:38
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Not of direct help but I remember in the 60s on the main force we were told not to wipe the skin of the aircraft. There had been many atmospheric tests, not just in the southern hemisphere, and the aircraft were all believed to be hot because of the high altitude flying.

I seem to recall that the groundcrew wore those dosimeter tags.

I agree about the washdown however. We asked about dosimeters ourselves and were told there was no issue with cabin air or radar emissions. We were not convinced as all ATCers wore them.
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Old 24th Mar 2008, 11:43
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I was on 543 from Jul 62 until Apr 65 flying Valiants. Did not, to my knowledge, come in contact with anything hazardous, but if I can be of any help please PM me.
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Old 24th Mar 2008, 19:32
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Join Date: Mar 2008
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re 543 and Peru


I was on 543 from 1971 to 1975. Went to peru in '74. We did have film badges while we were on base in Lima but as I recall, we did many a/c washes back at Wyton in zoot suits and wellies - much as described by other correspondent.

We also had the Midway detachment - same thing but chinese bombs. Anyone thought of this??

Be happy to be contacted if need be

froglodyte is offline  
Old 24th Mar 2008, 20:16
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Fetched and carried for you guys (I was 30 Sqn, Hercs) to and from Peru. Even met the missus there. Previously did the Hickham Christmas shuttle on Hastings (48 Sqn), though ex Grapple when it was on C&M, and we all know how that turned out. Seems to me this is a classic PPRuNe campaign in the making. I doubt very much if Swiss Des is set on doing the right thing, so he'll need some encouragement. Keep us posted DF, and good luck old chap.
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Old 25th Mar 2008, 07:45
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Oh Dear. I was on 543 Sqn from 69 to 73 and was involved with two Lima detachments (71 and 72) and Midway. I am now 62 and so far, touch wood, seem to be ok. However, I would be keen to find out what is going on as I have often wondered about the lack of safety precautions with regard to the radiation hazard. I won't say to much at this stage as some of what went on may still be classified! I think the official line was "upper atmosphere reseach for the World Heath Organisation" If I remember correctly the the whole thing was supervised by staff from the AWRE at Aldermarston. Grp Capt R-W headed up the team.
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Old 25th Mar 2008, 12:10
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58 Sqn Also

Ex-DF, good luck with your claim. I was also at Wyton 62-64, but on 58 Sqn where we had a Canberra B2 that was left on a remote pan as it had flown through atomic bomb mushroom clouds with sniffer pods on the wing tips. As far as I can remember it stayed there for the whole of my 2-yr tour.

Just to point out that there was a lot of neglegience about in the early 60's. Mind you, if we knew then what we know now.................

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Old 25th Mar 2008, 12:49
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I was there, too, and can confirm the general description of ops in Lima. As aircrew, we did have the dosimeters, were checked for contamination and did have our flying overalls exchanged for clean ones after taking a shower.

The aircraft were flown through rain showers as often as possible to try and clean them, but this was obviously a bit hit or miss. I seem to recall they were flown off somewhere for a wash at the end of the det, before recovery to UK, but can't remember where - and if I could, I wouldn't say as the recipients of the contaminated water might feel a bit aggrieved about it.

I remember being assured that contamination couldn't get past the air conditioning system to reach us in the cockpit, but that post flight monitoring demonstrated that it had!
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Old 29th Mar 2008, 04:47
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Still taboo?

Is it still taboo to talk about the "upper atmospheric air sampling" tasks carried out by 543 and 27?

Isn't Operation Attune in the National Archives now under the freedom of information act?

Frankly, I would have thought this thread would have generated a lot more discussion than it has . . . . curious.

- countertorque -
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Old 29th Mar 2008, 06:49
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When I was a Space Cadet sproglet in Oz in the 80s, we had an instructor who had flown RAAF Lincolns through the UK test clouds in the 1950s - and not been tested, decontammed, dosimetered and all the rest. (Though some RAF Canberras had been and were treated very differently, apparently). His mates were (unsurprisingly) suffering from all kinds of ailments.

Not directly related to 543, but wonder if it's worth getting in touch with the RSL in Oz to see if they've got anything on this sort of thing?

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Old 13th Feb 2014, 15:24
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Lima pilot

I am making a belated enquiry on behalf of a friend.
Can anyone verify if David Hayward was a pilot for any of the ops of 543 squadron, from Wyton to Lima in the early 70`s. please.
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Old 2nd Mar 2014, 11:44
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Lima pilot

Thanks BGG
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Old 5th Mar 2014, 12:22
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Lima Pilot
Dave Hayward flew on 543. We both moved across from Wittering when the Blue Steel force disbanded. Last time I heard he was a Gp Capt in Int
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Old 5th Mar 2014, 13:11
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The widow of one Canberra pilot (who at one time was my Flight Commander on 360) is of course publically pursuing a claim along with the nuclear test veterans for compensation for his premature death
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Old 5th Mar 2014, 13:23
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I recently mentioned on another thread the Valiant which was flow into Catterick in 1964 for use by the fire school. As far as I know it was never burned, and just lay on the far side of the airfield with a sort of exclusion zone around it as it was discovered to be contaminated by radioactive material, rather like the Canberra referred to by Old Ned.
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Old 5th Mar 2014, 14:58
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DH - my last stn cdr, at Wyton, before I retired.
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