Oral history of British science
Raynor, Frank (Part 12 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 12: [Interview Five: 2 August 2012] [53:38] Further remarks on Buffalo tests: different locations of different tests; FR duties after a bomb test, recovering records from instruments; cloth protective clothing, boiler suit and respirator, radiation monitoring equipment; protecting film of test results, arrangements for photographing instruments for test results. [05:50] Remarks on life at Maralinga: topics of conversation, bar, reading, lack of sports facilities; Ken Douglas' duties far from main camp; good spirit of shared experiences. [10:27] Remarks on return home from Buffalo: telling family little on return; return home by airline flights, more comfortable than transport with services; return to work; being informed on Buffalo that they would soon be sent out again for Operation Grapple; anecdote about FR attempt to be excused service on Grapple; wife's reactions to FR trips abroad for long periods, postwar low expectations and acceptance of situation due to decent salary. [15:55] Remarks on: Nobby Clarke informing him that they would be sent to Pacific for Grapple; short period between return from Buffalo and departure to Grapple; preparation for Grapple at Aldermaston; change of FR duties to join Ed Fuller's re-entry party. [18:00] Remarks on the re-entry party: FR not knowing why he was assigned; Ed Fuller's normal duties working on Linear Accelerator; FR feelings about joining the re-entry party; FR staying on the island overnight before test to set up instrumentation; routine of monitoring for FR; description on physicist Ed Fuller, informal working relationships; anecdote about FR and Ed Fuller lunch being disrupted by crabs. [24:30] Remarks on: eccentric scientist, who later lived near FR mother-in-law, where he owned sheep to mow his grass. [26:05] Further remarks on Operation Grapple: security considerations, separation of working groups, FR learning more when deployed, RAF personnel secrecy; knowledge of being out there for a megaton test, FR and others thinking test wasn't that big at the time; Grapple test on Malden Island near Christmas Island but across equator; description of Malden Island; [31:27] air-burst explosions dropped from Valiant bombers; FR working from HMS Narvik and HMS Warrior at different times, transport between ships and sites by helicopter; FR living on Island up till tests, camps buried until after tests; [34:55] Spartan living conditions on island, anecdote about tropical storms hitting island; contact with military personnel on Islands; FR sharing a tent with Ken Mayhew; [39:20] FR duties preparing equipment on Malden Island; exploring Malden Island's graveyards, left by Polynesians and guano harvesters; airfield on Island; flying by DC3 Christmas Airlines; fairly relaxed atmosphere in run up to Grapple tests, not thinking too much of work as important but doing job to best of abilities; little awareness of background of tests needing to completed due to nuclear treaty considerations. [44:35] Remarks on FR duties during a trial: memories of trials; duties to instrumentation; description of series of events of a test from FR's point of view; various groups doing testing; setting of various operations during countdown; drop of H-bomb by Valiant aircraft, assignment of health physics team member to weapon group; logistics of setting up equipment; pick up by navy; [49:20] FR back on board ship by test; FR and others helicoptered back to Malden Island to collect results from equipment; return of equipment to Christmas Island; conditions on Malden after test; 3 drops in Grapple series, similar duties on each.
Interview with technician, Frank Raynor