It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of Bob Ireland. Bob’s long service to the Nuclear Survivor Community had just been marked by the awarding of the first Honorary Membership of the NCCF following his retirement as a trustee earlier this year.
Joining the Royal Engineers at 21 Bob served at Christmas Island, in an article he wrote for the BNTVA Bob recalled:
“I well remember the first test (Grapple Y) I witnessed in April 1958, the ‘device’ was dropped by a Valiant bomber; I was told that we would be 78 miles away from the explosion. Years later I know that the distance was more like twenty-five miles. I can agree with the descriptions of other servicemen who have put pen to paper describing the events. Yes I did feel the heat on my neck and see the bones in my hands; and turning around to face where the detonation had taken place, seeing absolutely nothing except a brilliant whiteness, then after a few seconds, from the edge of my vision the horizon was gradually restored but in the centre was a giant fireball and mushroom cloud forming.
I know we were all stunned at the sight and the realisation of the awesome power that had been released. I doubt if any of us were prepared for what we had seen that day. Was it called a ‘device’ because it was an experiment?
Later in the year in August and September, I witnessed the ‘Grapple Z’ series of tests consisting of two airdrops and two Balloon suspended air bursts, this brought to an end British nuclear testing.”
Following demobbing in 1959 and having enjoyed the camaraderie of service life Bob joined the Merchant Navy which was to become his main career.
Joining the BNTVA as it became a Charity Bob served in a number of roles culminating in the Organisational Manager position in which he arranged the annual conferences.
When the NCCF was created Bob continued to serve both organisations as a trustee because he believed the veterans should always be represented. Having helped the new BNTVA deliver its initial conference at Weston Super Mare Bob retired from that organisation to concentrate his efforts on assisting the NCCF to deliver its Care Wellbeing and Inclusion Fund.
Bob was a very active member of the grant panel with practical compassion and understanding that greatly enhanced the quality of the panel’s decisions.
We had visited Bob only a couple of weeks before he passed away, he was in fine spirits and was looking forward to the NCCF Chairman’s Dinner where he and Jeff Liddiatt would be guests of honour.
There will now be an empty place set at the Chairman’s dinner, a reminder of those who have gone before and in particular our good friend Bob.
As ships that pass in the night
I have met the twain
I did go down to the sea
I would do it yet again.
Down to the sea in ships – Charles W. Mitchell
Bob’s funeral took place on Tuesday 8th September at Thornton Crematorium, Thornton, Liverpool at 13:00 hours. Numbers were strictly limited because of the virus situation however as a mark of the joint respect of both the Nuclear Community Charity Fund and the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, a trustee representing each charity were ale to mark Bob’s service to the organisations.