Exploring the mystery of Scotland's 'Anthrax Island'
By T.K. Randall
February 26, 2022 · 2 comments
Gruinard Island photographed back in 2005. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Kevin Walsh
A tiny island off the north-west coast of Scotland was once the site of a deadly germ warfare experiment.
Situated approximately 1km offshore, Gruinard Island is a tiny piece of land that would seem completely unassuming if it weren't for its rather disturbing past.
In 1942, fearing that Nazi Germany was developing a biological weapon, Winston Churchill ordered a team of scientists to find a way to use Anthrax - a deadly bacterial infection - as a potential weapon.
In order to conduct such experiments, the team decided to use Gruinard Island due to its remote location, which in addition to containing the infection also helped to keep the research a secret.
Nobody in the surrounding area knew anything about what they were doing, however many suspected that they were up to no good when farm animals kept dying under mysterious circumstances.
The truth about the experiments conducted there would remain a secret for another 50 years until declassified Ministry of Defense documents finally lifted the lid on the project.
The files documented how, in one instance, 80 sheep were deliberately exposed to a cloud of anthrax.
"This tiny moment, this puff of powder, is releasing death," said author Cal Flynn.
While the experiment was considered a success, the island remained contaminated long after the researchers had packed up and returned to Porton Down.
It wasn't until decades later that the island was finally cleaned up.
Churchill's anthrax bomb was never used.
Source: BBC News
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