Warning: History is repeating. Learn from it! (Part One)

I wasn’t alive in 1951. Had I been, I might have been telling you how the British government had been inviting servicemen to take part in a trial to find a cure for the common cold. (Yes, coronavirus.)

How they took out adverts in the newspapers enticing Army, Navy and RAF regulars to take part in this noble cause, making it sound like a little holiday and giving them a few shillings pocket money. They also played on a sense of duty inherent in these men to ‘do their bit’. Not unlike NHS ads of today.

The trials took place at the “Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment” at Porton in Wiltshire. (Since rebranded as Porton Down “science park”.)

And they gave them nerve gas. 

How do I know?

My dad was one of them. 

(So don’t tell me I’m a bloody conspiracy theorist. Or that no way would the government do that to their own people. They did! And Porton Down is a deep rabbit hole of Wuhan-esque proportions.) 

After my dad died of cancer – aged 55 – I found a letter he had written while living in Zambia that had been published in The Northern News newspaper in 1960. He wrote of his experience:

“It is said that there are no lasting ill effects from the experiments, and in this respect possibly I have been unlucky. Having survived a considerable amount of bombing in London during the last war without my nerves being affected, since my “guinea pig” days my nervous system has suffered.”

And at a guess, being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals may well have played a role in his death. 

Another volunteer reflected on his experience in The Daily Telegraph in 2004:

“I wasn’t nervous about going. I had faith. My trust in the military was absolute. I knew they wouldn’t let anything nasty happen to me.”  

Sound familiar?

Pip Fuchs

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