An Ellon veteran was presented with his Nuclear Test Medal, recognising his contributions in 1962, on Remembrance Sunday last year. Colin MacLean was among 100 other RAF servicemen to take part in Operation Dominic some 62 years ago. 

The operation involved 31 nuclear explosions in the Pacific and was a response to the Soviet Union’s own tests, which had restarted after a pause between 1958 and 1961. 

Colin’s involvement in the Armed Forces began in 1957 when, aged just 15, he became a boy entrant into the RAF as a telegraphist. He passed his training the following year and was posted to RAF Chivenor.

In 1962, he joined airmen from other units around the country at RAF Lyneham where they boarded an aircraft for islands in the Pacific. It was initially unclear what their mission was to be, other than that the whole operation was shrouded in secrecy.  

Indeed, the servicemen were asked to disembark the aircraft before it took off so they could sign the Official Secrets Act. As it turned out, they were to support a US-led operation that would see some 24 thermal nuclear bombs detonated over a period of 76 days. 

Since then, there has been a campaign by the veterans for recognition of the role they played in nuclear testing at such a troubling point in the Cold War. Colin worked on this campaign, which ultimately led to the unveiling of a new medal designed for military, civilian and overseas staff who participated in the nuclear testing programme of the 1950s and 1960s. 

Ellon branch asked for permission from the lord lieutenant’s office for the deputy lord lieutenant to pin MacLean’s medal in front of the town’s Remembrance parade in November 2023. Legion Scotland members, as well as those from the local community, were able to witness this mark of recognition.