Britain’s Cold War Human Chemical Warfare Experiments

 

 

Ian Foulkes was exposed to the deadly nerve agent Sarin in 1983 at the  Porton Down Chemical & Biological Defence Establishment. Porton Down is one of the UK’s most secretive and controversial military research facilities.

Ian describes in detail the process and the ill effects this caused him and shares details of a little-known fatality where 20-year-old Ronald Maddison died 45 minutes after 200mg of Sarin was dripped onto his arm.

We also talk about the development of chemical weapons during the Cold War and the history of the Porton Down Chemical & Biological Defence Establishment. 

Up to 20,000 people took part in various trials at Porton Down from 1949 up to 1989. In 2004 Maddison’s death was found to have been unlawful, however, the MoD challenged the verdict, but it was upheld. In 2008  the MoD paid 360 veterans of the tests £3m without admitting liability.

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I am delighted to welcome Ian Foulkes to our Cold War conversation…

There’s further information on this episode in our show notes which can also be found as a link in your podcast app here. 

Thank you very much for listening. It is really appreciated – goodbye.

 

 

 
 
Ian’s recommended books

 

Gassed – British Chemical Warfare Experiments on Humans at Porton Down”(2000) Rob Evans
“Secret Science – A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments” (2015) Ulf Schmidt
“A Higher Form Of Killing – The Secret Story of Gas and Germ Warfare” (1982) Jeremy Paxman and Robert Harris
“Porton Down – 75 Years of Chemical and Biological Research” (1992) G.B. Carter (N.B. Use of Humans not mentioned/only rates one sentence IIRC. I was unable to find it again!)

About Canada’s research and experimentation

“Deadly Allies – Canada’s Secret War 1937 – 1947” (1990) John Brydon

Australian Experimentation with Blister Agent

“Keen as Mustard – Britains Horrific Chemical Warfare Experiments in Australia (1998) Bridget Goodwin (N.B. I think she has an anti-British bias but good reading and information none the less)

Rhodesian Chemical and Biological warfare

“Dirty War – Rhodesia and Chemical Biological Warfare 1975 – 1980” (2017) Glenn Cross

Research of Nerve Agents

“Toxic – A History of Nerve Agents, From Nazi Germany to Putin’s Russia (2020) Dan Kaszeta