Gruinard Island was used for Anthrax bomb experiments by the UK in 1942-1943. Representatives of the US military attended the 1943 trials. The island
was left contaminated with anthrax until it was decontaminated (according to the MOD) in 1986. Previous decontamination methods adopted during WW2
were limited to setting fire to the gorse. This inept attempt led to anthrax spores being blown out to sea.
During the 1942 experiments, dead sheep were buried at the base of a cliff on the island, then the cliff was brought down on top of them with
explosives. It is thought, by the demolition expert, that he used to much explosive which resulted in an anthrax contaminated sheep being blown across
the water to the mainland. A farmers dog is said to have found the carcass washed ashore at Mellon Udrigle and this led to an anthrax outbreak amongst
sheep on the mainland.
Compensation for the anthrax outbreak was paid to farmers whose animals had died. A cover story was encouraged that stated that the outbreak was
caused by an infected animal being swept overboard from a Greek merchant vessel and compensation was paid "on behalf of the Greek Government".
After this cock-up, dead sheep from the 1943 Gruinard Island experiments were disposed of by incineration.
Detonation of Anthrax bomb at Gruinard Island 1943
Porton Scientist taking samples
Sheep incineration at Gruinard 1943
Decontamination at Gruinard, 1943 style!
Gruinard Island was not considered a safe enough area in which new biological warfare experiments with cluster munitions could be conducted. After an
exploration of the Essex and Lincolnshire coast-line for an alternative shore-line site, it was decided that this work could not be conducted in the
UK and it was transferred to be done in Canada.
Each year from 1947-1968 a small team of Porton scientists would visit Gruinard Island to assess the contamination of the island. From 1972-1978, no
inspections were made by Porton scientists. The UK Government, in the 1980s, became worried that terrorists could obtain samples of weaponised anthrax
from the island and authorised attempts to conduct decontamination in 1986. By 1990, Gruinard Island was declared free from anthrax by the UK
At no point was Elvis thought to be in any danger of these experiments or their aftermath.