Thursday, 31 May 2012

... YEARS AGO: Some 2012 anniversaries which may escape official notice

70 YEARS AGO: Summer of 1942
Experiments begun on Gruinard – a.k.a. ‘Anthrax’ – Island, close to the north-west coast of Scotland by scientists from Porton Down under the auspices of the British government. The first series of trials was to explore the feasibility of producing lethal effects from an airborne cloud laden with anthrax spores. (It was shown to have "enormous potentialities"). As is now well known, after this and two further series, the Island was rendered unfit for human or animal habitation for decades.
E. A. Willis, 'Contamination and Compensation: Gruinard as a 'Menace to the Mainland', Medicine, Conflict & Survival Vol.20, No. 4, Oct.-Dec 2004, 333-42.
E. A. Willis, Landscape with Dead Sheep: What they did to Gruinard Island', Medicine, Conflict & Survival Vol.18, No.2, April-June 2002, 199-210

60 YEARS AGO: Late Summer 1952
 Britain as WMD pioneer in the 1950s: The Hebridean connection
British government’s biological weapons (BW) experiments continued after the Second World War, with multiple ‘sea trials’ in which organisms for plague and other deadly diseases were tested on animals.
Towards the end of ' Operation Cauldron', in September 1952, a Hull trawler passed through the danger area, near the east coast of the Isle of Lewis, while a toxic cloud was being released ('the Carella incident') .This caused a flurry of near-panic in Whitehall driven by concern with maintaining secrecy at all costs.
B. Balmer. How does an accident become an experiment? Secret science and the exposure of the public to biological warfare agents. Science and Culture, Vol.13, No.2, June 2004, pp.197-228.
 ‘Plague tests were carried out by Ministry of Defence off Lewis’, West Highland Free Press 4 Apr 2003, p.10. <>
E. A. Willis, 'Seascape with monkeys and guinea-pigs: Britain's biological weapons research programme, 1948-54', Medicine, Conflict & Survival Vol.19, No.4, October-December 2003, pp.285-302

50 YEARS AGO: The OSA (Official Secrets Act) Trial of 1962
The British state secured convictions on a charge of conspiracy against four Committee of 100 activists, for organising an anti-nuclear  demonstration at Wethersfield airbase. Sentences of imprisonment were handed down after a much publicised, patently politically motivated and blatantly unfair ‘show trial’.  
‘The road to Wormwood Scrubs’, chapter 1 in Michael Randle and Pat Pottle, The Blake Escape: How We Freed George Blake and Why, Sphere Books, 1990, pp. 1-18.

More on some or all of the above stories here later, possibly.