Colin John Alexander entered service with the RNZN on the 10/3/52 as an Ordinary Seaman. He was involved in Operation GRAPPLE – the name given to the British Government’s test of British megaton range weapons.
Colin John Alexander and Operation Grapple
Operation GRAPPLE was the name given to the British Government’s test of British megaton range weapons. The tests were undertaken on Christmas Island and Malden Island in the Central Pacific.
The date of the first test off Malden was 15 May 1957 with two more hydrogen bombs detonated in June 1957. The first bomb off Christmas Island was on 8 November 1957 with a second test on the 28 April 1958. There was another test in the summer of 1958 with the last tests on the 11 and 23 September 1958.
Royal New Zealand Navy involvement
The first surveys of the Islands were carried out by HMNZS Lachlan in February 1956. The HMNZS Pukaki and Rotoiti departed Auckland on 14 March 1957 for Christmas Island. They acted as weather ships stationed some distance from the island during the test explosions for the period 29 March to 25 June 1957, both returning to Auckland on 16 July 1957. Both were on station again 21/10/57 to 27/11/57. Pukaki only sailed for Christmas Island 14/3/1958, returning 18/5/58 after three weeks weather-ship duty. The fourth and last tour followed, this time Pukaki was away for the following dates 23/7/58 to 9/10/58.
Colin John Alexander, Acting Petty Officer, RNZN 816489
Colin John Alexander entered service with the RNZN on the 10/3/52 as an Ordinary Seaman. After initial training in HMNZS Tamaki he was posted to the following
1952 HMNZS Philomel
1952 – 1954 HMNZS Lachlan
1954 HMNZS Bellona
1954 – 1956 HMNZS Philomel
1956 – 1958 HMNZS Pukaki
1958 HMNZS Philomel
1958 HMNZS Lachlan
1958 – 1959 HMNZS Philomel
1959 – 1960 HMNZS Black Prince
1960 HMNZS Philomel
Promoted to Stoker in 1952
Stoker Mechanic in 1953
Marine [Engineering] One in 1955
Acting Leading Marine [Engineering] in 1956
Leading Marine [Engineering] in 1957
Acting Petty Officer Marine [Engineering] in 1958
Colin Alexander was discharged from service in 1960
McDougall, R.J., New Zealand Naval Vessels, Christchurch: GP Books, 1989.
Haggas, J., Christmas Island, The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time, London: Minerva Press, 1993.
Hayman, Maurice. Those useless wings, Operation Grapple. London: Maurice Hayman.
Hubbard, Keith, Simmons, Michael, Operation ‘Grapple’, London: Ian Allan, 1985.
Blakeway, Denys, Lloyd-Roberts, Sue, Fields of Thunder: Testing Britain’s Bomb, London: Unwin, 1985.
Posting Record Card – RNZN Museum Collection.