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Modern Mysteries

Exploring the mystery of Scotland's 'Anthrax Island'

February 26, 2022 | Comment icon 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 | Comments (2)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by CigaretteSmokingMan 4 months ago
Not much of a mystery when the article fully explains what happened
Comment icon #2 Posted by Eldorado 3 months ago
An uninhabited Scottish island where government scientists once conducted experiments with Anthrax has been hit by a fire. People who saw the fire on Gruinard Island from the mainland described the scene as "apocalyptic". They said the uninhabited island off Scotland's north-west coast was ablaze from "one end to the other" on Saturday evening.

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