In 1917-18 as the demand for mustard gas during WW1 rose, the Sutton Oak plant in Merseyside began manufacturing the chemical warfare agent diphenyl chlorarsine , a precursor of mustard gas. This was first employed as a chemical weapon on the Western front during the trench battles of the Great War.
The factory closed for a period after the war
Reopening some years later, in 1932 a curious experiment with 56 of the factories employees involved them being contaminated with Mustard Gas to see the affect of it on the skin
At the outbreak of WW11 the UK’s stockpile of mustard gas was only 10 tons. So for a period of six months from September 1939, the whole of the country’s supply (1100 tons) came from Sutton Oak.
Many mustard gas shells soon found themselves onto the continent, as the allies retreated they were on hand to be used in case the Nazi’s used them first. However as the allies retreated to Dunkirk the mustard gas was made a priority over the retreating armies and was the cause of many soldiers being left behind, only to be captured by the German army.
In 1943 a full-scale plant was constructed there to manufacture a warfare agent codenamed ‘S’
However in 1945 the Allied troops began capturing German chemical dumps, samples were flown to Sutton Oak and in 1946 a nerve gas project was established on the site to develop improved versions of the German agents.
Manufacture of this nerve agent eventually ceased in 1954 and was moved to Nancekuke in Cornwall.
Presently the site is a vacant lot and lies within the Abbotsfield Road Industrial Estate in St Helen’s.
Torrie Forest was the location of a U.S. army chemical weapons store (no.25) located at Aberfoyle, near Callander in Scotland during WW 11
The official Operation Cleansweep Report shows that mustard gas (chemical generators) were disposed of by burning. There is barely any other information obtainable to show what went on here.
Today the forest is under the commercial management of the Forest Enterprise and it is popular with walkers, motor sports and mountain biking. However in the last number of years the forest has been heavily harvested and has deterred much of the public from visiting.
At Weymouth Bay, Lyme Bay and Portland Bill between 1963 and 1975, The Dorset Defense Trials took place under the control of the MoD (it also included a joint operation with the U.S. Army and Navy). Numbering 7 individual trials in the area, a series of sea trials took place where both live and dead bacteria were sprayed by different means over vast areas of the locale, both from ships off the coast and from the air. The 4 types of bacteria included E. Coli, Bacillus globigii, Bacterium aerogenes and Serratia marcescens.
According to an independent review undertaken by Prof. Spratt of the University of Leeds in 1999. “It is, however, surprising that suspensions with this level of contamination with uncharacterised bacteria were sprayed across populated areas, as there was a possible risk that the contaminating bacteria had a significant ability to cause disease in humans, even though they apparently caused no toxicity in the safety tests in mice.
According to reports, Prof. Spratt was never given all of the classified information related to the trials
In response to public calls for further clarification of the future possibility of more biological trials, the government ( the Defence Evaluation Research Agency (DERA)) said “that they cannot rule out conducting larger scale trials in the future to try to ensure the protection of the UK from attacks by people of states using chemical and biological weapons”.
Great documentary film, on the photo click through link. With thanks to Radical Films UK and below
Grangemouth was a RAF base during WWII. The base was used to store mustard gas in underground storage tanks. RAF 614 squadron was based here and tasked with spraying the material over the invasion beaches in the event of an enemy attack from this direction. Secret tests were reported to have been carried out involving the spraying of mustard gas.
The whole area around the base became a restricted area due to the stockpiles of mustard gas held there and the secrecy of the missions carried out. The restricted area took in the nearby town and the docks, and special passes were issued to all residents.
Today RAF Grangemouth is the site of a huge chemical industrial complex, that supplies most of the Britain and Ireland with fuel. The site is taken up mostly by the Ineos corporation, amongst other chemical companies. It was the scene of a potential closure in Oct 2013, but was saved from that faith by an agreement with the company and the 1,300 employees.
Also know as Portreath, was a centre for the manufacture of the nerve agent Sarin and for brief periods VX agent in the 1950’s. However the centre closed production in the late 1950’s but kept in a state of readiness where production could re-commence, right through until the 1970’s.
The site then became a Ministry of Defence radar station in 1978. Nerve-gas leakages are thought to have been responsible for causing prolonged neurological and psychological problems among Nancekuke’s employees and ex-employees. Between 1955 and 1959, there were 306 cases of respiratory disease during the height of nerve-gas production there. Furthermore, 41 employees out of an estimated 150 died during or after working at Nancekuke, a death rate that was far above the national average then, a fact that the MOD has always disputed.
A considerable amount of weapons were neutralized on the site but a considerable volume was buried on the site itself.
Chemical weapons were dumped into 5 separate areas. One site was an old quarry that was covered over with rubble and old steelwork from the demolished weapons factory (seen here)
After the MoD finally admitted after 30 years of denial that the site did need decontamination an independent company Aspinalls surveyed a partial area of the site and reported back to say that the site did have high levels of PCB’s, a very toxic chemical bi-product and also high levels of CS gas that was developed and manufactured at Nancekuke and was subsequentially used for many years for riot control on the streets of Northern Ireland during the Troubles, to which today the UK is one of the main manufacturers in the world
Work commenced in 2003 to clean up the site under the MoD Nancekuke Remediation Project. It is expected to take approx. 10 years.
The site remains a MoD Radar Station to this day.