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Recognition sought for Darlington nuclear test victim and his family
HIS father is believed to have been shot down in a Lancaster bomber during the Second World War and his son died in the Nimrod spy plane disaster.
The family of Arthur ‘Johnny’ Johnson who witnessed nuclear tests on Christmas Island is convinced the tragic family legacy continues as they have inherited his genetic diseases which have already killed one of his daughters.
Three H bombs and one A bomb were detonated by the British Government while Mr Johnson was unwittingly stationed in the idyllic South Pacific as a senior nurse in the RAF between 1957 and 1958.
His daughter, Carol, who was born a year later had to have a hysterectomy at 26 and died of systemic Lupus at the age of 51 in 2011.
“Sending them to Christmas Island was a sugary pill but they had no idea they were going to be used as human guinea pigs,” said his daughter, Sharon Richardson, 44, who, with her own daughter Mary, 21, suffer from degenerative back disease.
She urged relatives of Christmas Island veterans to complete a survey being compiled by the British Nuclear Test Veteran's Association (BNTVA) into genetic illnesses.
Mrs Richardson’s three-month-old grandson, Steven, was named in honour of his uncle, RAF Flight Lieutenant Steven Johnson who died age 38, along with 13 other victims, in the Nimrod spy plane disaster over Afghanistan, in 2006.
The ageing plane he was a navigator in exploded following an onboard fire shortly after it underwent air-to-air refuelling.
An inquiry held after the accident concluded that the plane was not airworthy and RAF costcutting was to blame for the airmen's deaths.
His mother, Ann Johnson, 75, said he had been the healthiest of all her six children. She is convinced that her family’s ailments were directly related to the radiation endured by her husband who died of bladder cancer age 64 in 1999.
However, the Government has yet to acknowledge that health problems are linked to nuclear testing.
“Johnny had a lifetime of stomach problems after he returned but was very good at hiding pain,” she said. “One week, all the enamel crumbled on his teeth and he was just left with little black stumps.”
“We are luckier than some who have birth defects but what upsets me is how many more children am I going to lose? I’m so proud of them all, it’s just so hard they are becoming ill," added Mrs Johnson from Branksome in Darlington.
“We would like recognition that they were used for the trials of the bombs by the MoD but I don’t think they will ever admit that. We want them to recognise that a sacrifice was made."
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