By Nick Collins

British scientists experimented with ways to use the planned release of human and animal diseases against the enemy during the Second World War.

Cholera, dysentery, typhoid and foot-and-mouth disease were all trialled as potential weapons of war, according to previously secret files released to the National Archives.

The list revealed in the new documents demonstrates the breadth of the British research into biological weapons during the conflict, which was already known to have included experiments with anthrax.

Experts recognised that “biological warfare” was against the 1925 Geneva protocol, but still carried out a number of tests, the majority of them at Porton Down, near Salisbury, and Pirbright in Surrey.

They gave reports to the War Cabinet’s Porton experiments subcommittee, which recognised that “bacteriological warfare” was against the 1925 Geneva protocol, The Guardian reported.

The minutes were classified as “secret” and “to be kept under lock and key”.

The use of biological weapons was not seen as “likely to achieve a decisive effect” but preparation was thought to be necessary in order to defend against similar enemy attacks and as a “means of retaliation”.

Scientists encountered problems when attempting to examine the effect of diseases on cattle because the animals refused to eat cakes containing infections or cut glass.

Experts wrote: “Observations have shown that cattle are rather suspicious of any new type of food.”


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