Pendle man decorated with medal from King Charles for service in Royal Air Force during nuclear testing on Christmas Island
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One of the first medals to be awarded by King Charles, Frank Dinsdale was honoured at a surprise presentation organised by his family.
At the time, like many asked to serve on what was known as the “Pacific Island Paradise” Frank witnessed horrors, but his time there also holds happy memories including the time he outwitted his superiors by hiding a beer fridge in a locker. Frank, who has beaten both bowel and prostate cancer, received his medal by post but his family felt the occasion needed celebrating properly. So they arranged for Air Commodore (Ret’d) Stu Stirrat, to formally present it to him at Wheatley Lane Primary School in Fence where Frank’s daughter Tracy is headteacher.
Yorkshire born Frank began his RAF career at the age of 14 as a boy entrant before beginning service as an airframe mechanic at 18. He was deployed to various places and he went to Christmas Island twice. During his first deployment to the “Indian Ocean paradise” Frank witnessed the nuclear bomb tests as part of “Operation Grapple” His second was as the “clean up crew.”On his second tour of duty he was injured and had to be flown back to the UK for treatment - although the RAF medics weren’t sure at the time whether it was “radiation poisoning” or “Coral Foot” so he spent a month in isolation.
Last year, after a long fought battle by veterans and their families, medals were awarded to those still alive and some compensation payments are being sought due to the fact they were exposed to radiation without warnings of the danger it posed to their health. Frank worked for British Aerospace when he returned to civilian life and he served overseas for a large part of his career. Frank was diagnosed with cancer a few years after losing his wife Ann in 2011. Frank received great support from the Rosemere Cancer Centre and staff were there at his medal presentation along with his friends and family including his daughter Tracy, son Andrew Dinsdale, grandchildren Ben and Tom Heys and his sister Margaret Gilbert.