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Medals for nuclear test veterans hope as decision due after Mirror campaign

A decision is imminent on the plea to give a medal to Britain’s nuclear veterans.

The Mirror’s Medal for Heroes campaign demanded in 2018 that the estimated 1,500 survivors of Cold War bomb tests should finally get a gong.

They have never been given formal thanks for taking part in the biggest ­tri-service operation since D-Day in 1944.

Thousands returned home reporting a genetic legacy of cancers and rare conditions, elevated rates of ­miscarriage for their wives and 10 times the normal number of birth defects in their children.

Following the Mirror campaign, a special honours sub-committee considered our evidence, and it appears a decision is due.

Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer told the House of Commons: “I appreciate how important medallic recognition is… I know that the sub-committee has received representations from the nuclear test veterans and those reviewed recommendations will be made public as soon as possible.” Last night, he told veterans in a Facebook Live broadcast the answer would be given “shortly”.

The committee has sent its ­suggestion to the Honours and ­Decorations Committee, which liaises between Buckingham Palace and Whitehall.

One of the Queen’s top ­courtiers, Defence Services Secretary Rear Admiral Jim Macleod, is also to advise her on awarding a posthumous Elizabeth Cross to relatives of Squadron Leader Eric Denson, who died in 1976.

The pilot took his own life after being exposed to the equivalent of 165 years of background radiation during Operation Grapple Y in the South Pacific in 1958.

The medal is awarded to anyone who died in service, during a conflict or as a result of their injuries.

Eric’s family is being backed by Tory grandee Sir John Hayes, comedian Al Murray and Labour’s Emily Thornberry.

His widow Shirley said: “My Eric was ordered to put his life on the line for the sake of his young Queen and his country.

‘He did it without a moment’s hesitation.

“He never saw his daughters grow up and have families of their own. I trust our Queen now, as he did then. I know she will see that justice is finally done.”

He told Shirley, now 86, of Morden, Surrey, about crippling pain in his head and a “black cloud”. Around 20% of their family have genetic birth defects.

The MoD has confirmed it is ­considering Shirley’s application.