Gruinard island is just off the mainland, in Gruinard Bay, along the A832 halfway between Gairloch and Ullapool. During WWII it became the focus of the UKs secret effort to find a weapon capable of defeating the Nazis. These experiments left the island so contaminated it was deemed out of bounds for almost 50 years.
In 1942, driven by fear of biological weapons developed by Germany and Japan, scientists from the Chemical Defense Experimental Establishment (CDEE) ferried their way across to Gruinard Island, off the North West coast of Scotland. This was to be the first experiment with live bacteria; could they survive an explosion and still retain their deadly properties?
Sixty sheep were tethered in concentric circles around a wooden gantry where the ‘bomblet’ containing billions of anthrax spore was to be exploded. Inside were 3-4 pinks of the anthrax liquid plus a bursting charge. The team withdrew and the bomb was set off.
Sheep began to die a day after the first blast. Local crofters knew nothing – Duncan Matheson of Laide was an auxiliary Coastguard and observed the experiment from his lookout post, viewing the scientists dressed in their strange protective gear as they inspected the damage.