Dark Harvest Commando

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The Dark Harvest Commando of the Scottish Citizen Army was a militant group which in 1981 demanded that the British government decontaminate Gruinard Island, a site which had been used for anthrax weapon testing during World War II, by distributing potentially anthrax-laden soil on the mainland.[1][2]

The group identified itself as "Dark Harvest Commando" and claimed to include a "team of microbiologists from two universities" in Scotland. They said they had landed on the island with the aid of local people, and removed 300 lb (140 kg) of soil contaminated with anthrax spores.

The group placed a container of soil outside the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down in Wiltshire.[3] A second container of soil was placed at Blackpool, a resort town where the Conservative Party was holding a conference. The first container was found to contain Bacillus anthracis (the causative agent of anthrax), while the second was uncontaminated, but of the same soil type as found on the island.[4]

One news source claimed that a resurgent DHC had collected spores from Gruinard Island for an attack on Prince William in December 2001.[5]

In his novel The Impossible Dead (2011), author Ian Rankin mentions the clandestine events surrounding the removal of contaminated soils from Guinard Island by the Dark Harvest Commandos, and the island's removal from maps by the British Government.[6]


  1. ^ Carn. Celtic League. 1987. p. 3.
  2. ^ Curtis E. Cummings; Elisaveta Stikova (1 January 2007). Strengthening National Public Health Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Biological and Radiological Agent Threats. IOS Press. pp. 55–. ISBN 978-1-58603-744-4.
  3. ^ Weapons of Mass Destruction. ABC-CLIO. pp. 146–. ISBN 978-1-85109-490-5.
  4. ^ "Biological Warfare: Dark Harvest". Time. 9 November 1981.
  5. ^ Drainey, Nick (2002-03-04). "SNLA Threats and Attacks". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  6. ^ Rankin, Ian (2011-10-13). The Impossible Dead. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 9781409112143.

Further reading[edit]