Today's article focuses on how, dating back decades, LSD has been used on troops in classified experiments. Some of this revolves around a certain U.K.-based facility in the southwest of the U.K. In his book, Alien Viruses, Dr. Robert Wood says: "Although work at Porton Down had originally begun in March 1916, it was not until 1940 that the installation became the central hub of British interest in biological warfare. Following the start of the Second World War, a highly secret and independent group – the Biology Department, Porton - was established by the War Cabinet, with a mandate to investigate the reality of biological warfare and to develop a means of retaliation in the event that biological warfare was utilized against the United Kingdom. By 1946, the name of the wartime group had become the Microbiological Research Department. A decade later, the biological warfare research of Porton Down’s staff had become solely defensive in nature; and in 1957 it was re-named the Microbiological Research Establishment."
Wood continues: "By the 1970s it was decided that the MRE should be placed under the aegis of a civil authority, and on 1 April 1979, it became known as the Center for Applied Microbiology and Research. In 1995, the Establishment became part of the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency, and six years later DERA split into two organizations: QinetiQ, a private company, and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory) which remains an agency of the Ministry of Defense. Today, Porton Down is known by its two facilities: Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Porton Down, and Public Health England (PHE)."
Porton Down’s interest in experimentation involving hallucinogens, and particularly so LSD, dates back to the early years of the 1950s – although, incredibly, this was completely hidden from the people of the U.K. until the early years of the 21st century. Such is the nature of what passes for "Freedom of Information" in the U.K. As the 1950s progressed, however, more and more research was undertaken – on occasion using Porton Down’s very own employees, some of who were willing to gauge the varying effects for themselves. That situation changed significantly in the final days of 1964. That was when one of the most notorious periods in the history of mind-altering experimentation on military personnel occurred. And it all happened across approximately a period of a week. The work was undertaken and overseen by Porton Down scientists. The projects were code-named Small Change, Moneybags and Recount.
Much of the experimentation was conducted out in the field. Literally, at times. Military personnel from 41 Royal Marine Commando were the guinea-pigs. The full and potential effects of the LSD were most assuredly not made fully clear to the troops. In fact, they weren't even told that they were about to be dosed with LSD. On the first day, the men who were involved took part in an operation that was located not at all from Porton Down: woods and fields dominated the environment where the experiment began. No LSD was present that day; this was simply just an exercise to have the soldiers get used to the environment. They performed as one would expect trained military men to perform: perfectly. On the next day, however, things were very different and far from perfect. Things quickly became chaotic for the troops – and that’s putting it mildly. The whole project turned into a complete Bedlam.
One of the most important parts of all this is that the events of the second day were carefully filmed – for posterity and to see how quickly, and radically, the men fell under the influence of LSD. It wasn’t long before the first symptoms began to kick in: men began to stumble around, they had problems walking. Others began to laugh for no reason – and to levels that could only be described as hysterics. A soldier clambered up a tree. The reason? He wanted to feed the local birds. Another volunteer took a shovel to a tree and almost cut straight though the trunk. One of the men in the film appears to be on the verge of plunging into a full-blown panic-attack. He looks haunted, twitchy and scared. At one point we see him sitting, looking dazed and confused, in a military vehicle. At the same time, a clearly concerned nurse holds his hand. The footage is both gripping and surreal.