- 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
- 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
- Peter Carpenter - Lance Bombardier with the 37th Heavy
- "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
- "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
- " 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)
- Chemical and Biological Defence (CBD) Sector of the
- Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) 1995-2001
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Porton
- TRUST SELLS SKIN TO PORTON DOWN
- 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
- 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
- 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."