Porton Down - The Terrible Secret
Posted by outerbongolia

Many years ago I worked alongside other women campaigning against both animal and human experimentation at the Porton Down research facility in the UK. At the time rumour was rife that not only were animals bred and tortured in horrific conditions, but humans too, including servicemen, the elderly and the mentally handicapped were being subjected to terrifying and dangerous experiments, evidence of which is just now coming to light.
"I have seen evidence which I think is genuine, which seems to suggest that there is a certain section of the Ministry of Defence which uses elderly people as guinea pigs for experiments and quietly puts them to death afterwards. It is carefully hidden by the Official Secrets Act." --Monsignor John Barry.
"We now know that some 20,000 servicemen were duped into volunteering for research into the common cold and then used in the most horrendous experiments with nerve gas and all sorts of things. We know that 40 people were injected with the biological warfare agent Kyasanur Forest Monkey (KFM) disease in 1968. That was apparently done to see if it was of any therapeutic value to leukemia patients. KFM disease has a 28 per cent fatality rate and causes horribly painful encephalitis in humans. Why was Porton Down involved in this search for a leukemia therapy in a NHS cancer ward? It is a coincidence that just three years later KFM became a recognised biological warfare agent? Did Porton Down want to examine the pathology of a biological warfare bug as it acts on humans?"
Liz Sigmund
"It was hideous, a hutted camp, where it seemed to do nothing but rain. There were a series of bunkers to which you were thrust from time to time to be gassed with CS gas and to go through ghastly exercises underground wearing a gas mask."
Patrick Mercer, retired army officer.
"They put us in the gas chambers. We tested CS gas, some of these tests are horrendous. I had no idea what they were doing - as far as I was concerned they were doing common cold research tests. I volunteered to earn a bit of extra leave. In one test we had to stand in front of a stream of gas which I could not stand for more than a minute. My face was stinging, my throat was red raw and my lungs were burning. I was paid two shillings. It was a dirty trick, plain and simple."
Gordon Bell - airman at Porton Down in the 1950s
"As far as we were all concerned the tests were part of a programme searching for a cure for the common cold, if I had thought it was anything more than that I would not have put my name forward. "They gave us each a glass of water and we were told to drink it, which I did and I felt no adverse symptoms. It tasted like water to me, but some of the others who had taken the drink literally started trying to climb up the wall and cowering in corners. They were screaming and hallucinating and saying there were giant spiders in the room. It is now pretty obvious that they had been given LSD or another drug, and I was lucky that there did not appear to be any in my glass."
Eric Hatherall - storeman, Fleet Air Arm.
"A loudspeaker informed us that the dosage was about to be administered and to inhale normally. The immediate reaction was a tightening of the muscles and the lungs. For some volunteers this lasted several seconds while others experienced it for several minutes. Other volunteers suffered 'horrendous' health problems including severe headaches, skin and eye cancers, brain tumours, paralysis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, nervous disorders and blistering. At that time I was as strong as an ox, I could carry two bags of cement on my shoulders. Now, I can't even lift two bags of sugar. I firmly believe that the Government at the time, and subsequent Governments who have covered up the events, are guilty of war crimes."
Michael Roche - corporal, Royal Engineers.
"We were taken into a field and told to go into a metal cone. I had a perforated can of flies and a rabbit in a cage. We were told that when we heard an explosion we had to go and stand near a wooden stake outside. They asked if we could smell anything. All the officers were wearing gas masks, but we didn't have them."
The next thing we knew we were all in bed and my hands, wrists and ankles were all aching. They never told us we were open to any danger."
Peter Carpenter - Lance Bombardier with the 37th Heavy Royal Artillery.
"My husband set off for work at Porton Down on September 20, 1966 When I saw him that night he was in a terrible state , he had agonising stomach pains. He said, "I've had that bloody American bubonic plague injection.Three months later he died, I was told he had died of stomach cancer but I know they gave him a cocktail of 19 injections of smallpox, anthrax, plague, and polio over five years. I was told that he needed the immunisation jabs but I believe that was just an excuse. They were using him as a guinea pig. He wouldn't have refused because he would have been afraid to lose his job."
Hettie Nyman - widow of Frederick.
"My husband Private William Dyer was 19 when he was paid a shilling a day to crawl through a field sprayed with radioactive chemicals wearing overalls and afterwards be scanned for radiation levels. He died the day after his 49th birthday in 1987 of Hodgkin's disease - cancer of the lymph nodes. They volunteered for what they thought were simple tests. They were young and wanted to earn a few extra bob - but now look at the price they have paid."
Jeanette Dyer, widow of William - Somerset Light infantry soldier.
"I specifically asked them what the long-term implications of taking part in the tests were because I was not happy about it. Of course if they had mentioned what happened to Ronald Maddison (he died minutes after being tested with Sarin in 1953) I would not have taken part. I believed that this would help my chances of promotion and I also received £140 on top of my £400-a-month wages. Scientists told me that I would be exposed to the nerve gas without an antidote. I felt that at this stage I could not back out without harming his career.I was led into a chamber and told to walk around while the gas was administered. I had tunnel vision, and felt sick. My chest constricted and it was like breathing through a straw. My head ached terribly. The door finally opened and I was ushered out by scientists wearing respirators and overalls. They completed tests on me , assured me that my health would recover and told me to go home and wash my uniform".
Ian Foulkes - private 28th Signal Regiment.
"In 1941 I was subjected to six weeks of tests with gases and sprays that burnt, itched and blistered the skin. Today I am dying of lung cancer. I believe that the tests at Porton Down could be to blame; I also suspect that they may be responsible for the fact that Terry, my 49-year-old son, has lymph cancer. I am not looking for compensation, I just want the world to know that I and other British women were used as guinea pigs by the British Government."
I volunteered for the tests when I was a sergeant in the 24th Heavy Mixed Anti-Aircraft Training Regiment, after a request from a senior female officer. The volunteers were not informed that they would test chemical weapons; instead they were told their co-operation would help to end the war as part of a secret mission. I wanted to help my country, and believed that the Army would not do anything to harm me. At Porton Down, the volunteers were asked to sign the Offical Secrets Act and told they would be paid a shilling a day. Every day, I was subjected to gases and sprays that left me in pain or covered in sores. Mustard gas was placed on my arms. It burnt for a few minutes until I could wipe it off.
In other experiments we ran through boggy fields and were sprayed by light aircraft with substances that burnt our eyes and skin and left blisters. I still love England and the Army and I can even forgive them for what they did, but I want them to admit what they have done to women as well as men."
Mrs Pat Cunningham - sergeant, 24th Heavy Mixed Anti-Aircraft Training Regiment.
" What can you say? no one can describe the feeling when I see my mum still upset (my dad died in 1956 age 26) It would appear he was critically ill only 4 months after taking part in as we have recently found out what was Sarin gas "only a small amount" not much comfort when my dad died at 26. To discover your own country can do this to there own people is unbelievable.
I remember being told small snippets when I was younger and thought it far fetched, how wrong. My Mum has told me she could not have pushed things this far herself - she should not have had to in the first place if the government had shown a bit more respect for people. No wonder they hang their head in shame, they deserve to."
Chris Bishop
Please support the Porton Down Veterans
Since its establishment in 1916 Porton Down has undergone several changes of title and responsibility:
Royal Engineers Experimental Station 1916-1929
Chemical Warfare Experimental Station (CWES) 1929-1930
Chemical Defence Experimental Station (CDES) 1930-1948
Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment (CDEE) 1948-1970
Chemical Defence Establishment (CDE) 1970-1991
Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment (CBDE) 1991-1995
Chemical and Biological Defence (CBD) Sector of the
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) 1995-2001
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Porton Down 2001-
NHS patients not told of chemical weapons tests
Jeevan Vasagar
Saturday February 10, 2001
The Guardian
Chemical weapons were tested on human skin removed from NHS plastic surgery patients without their knowledge, a hospital admitted yesterday.
The skin, which was removed during breast and abdominal surgery at Salisbury district hospital, was used by scientists at the nearby Porton Down chemical warfare facility to test how human tissue was damaged by corrosive chemicals.
It was also used to investigate how drugs could be injected through the skin, and to develop barrier creams to protect against chemical attack.
Consent forms signed by patients said the skin would be used for "medical research" without explaining that it was being used by the defence evaluation and research agency (Dera) which runs the facilities on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.
Skin removed during the normal course of surgery was sold to military researchers for an annual fee of £17,000. The practice began in 1995 and was stopped two weeks ago in the wake of the Alder Hey report. The hospital said it recognised some patients might object to their skin being used for defence experiments, and offered apologies. But Salisbury community health council, which represents patients' interests, said it was surprised to learn of the sale of body parts. Chief officer Mark Woodcock said: "Patients will understandably be extremely distressed to hear of this news.
"The CHC believes that the trust needs to provide answers to the following questions:
"First, who in the trust in May 1995 authorised the trust to sell body parts to Porton Down?
"Second, why did the trust continue to sell after public awareness of problems at Alder Hey first occurred in November 1999?"
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of Dera, confirmed the skin was used in chemical warfare tests. "Some of the tests were to find out how the skin absorbs chemicals that might be used to attack our armed forces. But they were solely for defence purposes - we stopped developing chemicals for attack at Porton Down in the 1950s.
"Most of the chemical tests done were for the benefit of civilians. They were with corrosive chemicals that are used in the home and work place, to see how the skin would be affected by a spillage."
The hospital trust said in a statement: "The trust had thought it appropriate for patients' consent to be sought for the use of surplus skin in all forms of medical research through a consent form.
"The trust now recognises that this did not inform patients of the specific use of the skin and that some individuals may not have wished for the skin to be used by Dera and offers its sincere apologies for this."



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