The Disposal of German Chemical Weapons ...via Cairnryan Military Port

colin traveller

Mi Field Marshall
MI.Net Member
Mar 8, 2018
cairnryan B.jpg
Disposing of German Chemical Weapons via Cairnryan Military Port
A couple of Imperial War Museum pictures of Ammunition Dumping operations at Cairnryan / Beauforts Dyke (and further afield)
One of the fact that is often forgotten is that it was not just unstable and unwanted British ordnance that was dumped in the North Channel.
The material dumped also included 145,000 tons of chemical weapons emanating from Germany. This included 71,000 Tabun Bombs. Tabun had been discovered by German scientist Dr Gerhard Schrader in 1936 while working in development of insecticides. It's potential as a chemical weapon was quickly recognised by the Wehrmacht.
After loading into redundant vessels at Cairnryan the Tabun bombs were covered by a screed of concrete before the hulls were towed out and scuttled. Given the timescales, the quality and effectiveness of the concrete covering must be questionable.
A list of 10 vessels loaded with chemical weapons at Cairnryan between September 1945 and July 1956 indicate that at least 6 of these vessels were NOT scuttled at Beauforts Dyke.
Empire Simla and Empire Woodlark were scuttled west of the Hebrides on 13th Sept 1946 and 2nd November 1946 respectively.
Empire Cormorant and Empire Success were scuttled off Lands End on 1st October 1945 and 22nd August 1948 respectively.
Botlea, with a cargo of "gas shells" was sunk in the Atlantic in December 1945 and Leighton, with a similar cargo was sunk 100 miles off Malin Head in August 1947.
The locations of the disposal of Wairuna, Empire Clair and Voghtland (with nerve gas bombs) and Kotka (With arsenical compounds) is not disclosed.
On the lighter side when Stranraer FC played a home Scottish Cup match against Glasgow Rangers numerous (presumably empty) ammunition boxes were used to provide extra seating. The visitors won 0-1.
Incidentally, Cairnryan was also used to ship propellants to the rocket testing range at Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.
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