Oral history of British science
Raynor, Frank (Part 9 of 18) An Oral History of British Science
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Interviewee's home, Abingdon
Raynor, Frank, 1922- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 9: [43:44] Discussion about Montebello test site: flagship HMS Campania carrying Admiral Torlesse and trials director LC Tyte, HMS Tracker, Warrior, Zeebrugee; limited wildlife on islands; atom bomb loaded aboard HMS Plym; press suspicions that bomb was on Campania; position of HMS Plym anchored near Trimouille; description of former warship HMS Plym; HMS Tracker; transport around site by landing craft; [06:10] relations with naval personnel; separate group involved with instrumentation on islands; FR putting some instrumentation into Plym; conditions aboard Plym; Aldermaston films of events, featuring John Challens turning weapon key; FR installing equipment in room with bomb; safety systems for bomb; [pause 10:38] description of bomb room on Plym, film of events. [12:40] Remarks on: rapid instrumentation around bomb; tense atmosphere in run up to test; FR position in health physics team, compared to later roles on Grapple and Buffalo tests. [15:20] Discussion of Hurricane atomic test: Ieuan Maddock announcement of start of countdown; need to trigger equipment precisely; FR feeling more concerned about his equipment in the aftermath of test than test itself; FR on board HMS Tracker watching mushroom cloud from deck; nuclear flash; FR feelings about test, tempered by knowledge of American nuclear tests; FR later postings to other tests; [20:30] feelings when bomb went off; FR feelings looking back; [21:40] safety precautions; differences between real nuclear tests and films; sound of bomb; warnings about health risks, tolerance dose of radiation; earlier safety tests in Essex marshes near foulness with Ieuan Maddock. [25:48] Remarks on activities after test: FR work on HMS Zeebrugge with equipment; Ken Douglas featuring on film, issuing monitors to survey teams; decontamination of irradiated equipment; some people busier after test; demand for instrumentation after test keeping FR busy; story about hitching a lift back to UK aboard an RAF Hastings aircraft after equipment was packed up, via Singapore, and RAF Habbaniyah in Iraq to avoid Suez, with a trip to Baghdad. [35:45] Remarks on: helpful admin of AWRE, notifying FR family of his return; FR feelings on return to temperate climate; later arrangements for extra leave on later Pacific nuclear tests; anecdote about FR later being one of the first to fly from US to London via Polar Route, via Thule in Greenland; excellent postal service on later Pacific tests, with specially produced envelopes; poor postal service at Montebello, telegram on birth of daughter; feelings on return to UK.
Interview with technician, Frank Raynor