Shrieking with Sheer Terror, the Monkeys Showered in Bubonic Plague; Revealed, 1952 Film of Horrific Scottish Germ Warfare Tests

Daily Mail (London), September 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Shrieking with Sheer Terror, the Monkeys Showered in Bubonic Plague; Revealed, 1952 Film of Horrific Scottish Germ Warfare Tests


Byline: by Guy Walters

CRAMMED into small boxes, their heads wedged through tiny holes, the monkeys undoubtedly look terrified. Around them, men in rubber overalls and gas masks arrange a semi-circle of boxes containing guinea pigs on the deck of a sloping pontoon.

After the boxes have been laid out, the men disappear below the deck of a ship, and for a while, nothing happens.

Then, after several minutes, a small bomb placed on a boom a few feet out to sea detonates, and showers the animals in a deadly cloud of bubonic plague.

These scenes, which have just been released, appear in a gruesome film showing secret germ warfare experiments on animals carried out by British government scientists 60 years ago.

The experiments, which ran from May to September 1952 off the coast of Lewis, exposed nearly 3,500 guinea pigs and 83 Rhesus Macaque monkeys to deadly germs such as bubonic plague.

Codenamed Operation Cauldron, the secret experiments were part of our nascent biological warfare programme, which at the time was deemed as important as the development of nuclear weapons. Acting in the belief that the Soviets were producing bacteriological bombs, scientists from Porton Down laboratory in Wiltshire were briefed to devise similar weapons that could be used in retaliation against a Russian germ warfare strike.

Although the existence of the 47-minute film has been known about for many years, it is now available for the world to see on the video-sharing website YouTube, thanks to the efforts of Mike Kenner, 58, an Open Government campaigner from Weymouth, Dorset.

'This is the only film like it in the world,' says Mr Kenner, who lobbied the Ministry of Defence to get the film released. 'As far as I know, it's the only film that shows animals being exposed to deadly pathogens.' The MoD was reluctant to release the film - and it is not hard to see why as it is disturbing viewing.

Many of the monkeys and guinea pigs exposed to the germs died within a few days, while any that survived were killed and dissected so their organs could be studied for the effects of the deadly germs.

Above all, it is the sight of the monkeys' almost human faces that make the film so shocking.

'Although we see the tests are being carried out on animals,' says Mr Kenner, 'when one sees the monkeys, one can't help but empathise, and realise these weapons were being designed to be used against people'.

Very few of those who took part in Operation Cauldron are still alive.

One of the men who can testify to the truth of what happened is Geoffrey Scarlett, 82, who was a petty officer on board the ship the Ben Lomond, which housed the animals and scientists.

As the ship's writer, responsible for sending back reports to the Admiralty, Mr Scarlett well understood the aims of the project. Many of the other sailors only had a vague idea of the experiments being carried out on the nearby pontoon.

'We were simply told we were going on a germ warfare trial,' says Mr Scarlett. 'But we were not told where we were going.' However, the men were informed that taking part was not compulsory. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Shrieking with Sheer Terror, the Monkeys Showered in Bubonic Plague; Revealed, 1952 Film of Horrific Scottish Germ Warfare Tests
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.