Soldier nuked and given nerve gas 'for his country'


Royal Engineer Jim Hayward was exposed to five nuclear bomb tests, then duped into Sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and LSD experiments at Porton Down during his post-war military service.

"I served Queen and country but I was used as a guinea pig," he told the Daily Express yesterday. "I can never forgive the Ministry of Defence for what they did to me." He still suffers physical and emotional after-effects.

In March 1958 Jim was sent to Christmas Island and remained to witness five H-bomb tests.

"We just wore boiler suits and were told to sit with our backs facing the blast," said Jim, 63. "X-rays poured through us and we could see our own skeletons.

"It rained and I still have the white spots on my arms where drops of radioactive water fell on me."

He said the last blast exploded far too close to the atoll because of a navigation error. His unit then stayed on the radiation-soaked island for 11 months until 1959.

On his return to his base in South Africa he had strange illnesses he puts down to radiation sickness.

Jim's wife then became pregnant with their first child, a daughter called Patricia who died at three-months-old.

"She was not a normal child," said Jim. "I can remember her laid on the hospital table, she was the size of a toddler. She was huge for her age and not destined to live.

"I'm convinced my genes had been altered in my sperm at the time and that was the reason for it. You can't prove it, though."

Patricia's death caused his marriage to break down and he returned to a Royal Engineers depot at Long Marsden, north of Oxford.

In 1962 he volunteered for research into soldiers' kit at top secret Porton Down to supplement his pay. "I was made to sign the Official Secrets Act," said Jim. "We were given fresh kit but it wasn't anything new which made me suspicious. We were made to run on a treadmill in helmet, rifle and cape."

He was in the tropical climate room. Soldiers had to run for 15 minutes and were then given a foul-tasting drink in a plastic beaker.

Jim thinks they were exposed to Sarin and mustard gas as scientists believed less gas was needed to attack a soldier in a hot, humid situation.

Jim said: "They said they needed to take my temperature. It had to be done rectally for more accuracy. I believe they applied mustard gas to me that way. I've had problems ever since." He also found the treadmill was not tiring him.

"I felt great," he said, "like superman". Afterwards he suffered a "comedown" from the LSD cocktail he believes he was given. Since then he has had "physical flashbacks" and can still lift unfeasibly heavy weights.

Ken Earl of the Porton Down Veterans Support Group said: "People's rights were totally ignored and it's time the MoD sorted out this mess of their own making."

lThe Porton Down Veterans Support Group can be contacted at PO Box 787, Maidstone ME14 1EF.