Letter: Churchill knew about mustard gas

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The Independent Online
HAVING been stationed in Bari at the time of the air raid in December 1943 ('US Navy tested mustard gas on its own sailors', 14 March), I was amazed when some 30 years after I read the book Disaster at Bari by Glenn Infield and learned of the cargo in the SS John Harvey which blew up and caused so much suffering.

During the raid I was on duty in a mobile telegraphy vehicle parked in a field on the outskirts, and on return to our billet, a lorry was waiting to evacuate us to temporary accommodation out of the city. We could see the drifting smoke but never knew of its lethal content. Neither, unfortunately, did the medical authorities.

Your correspondent, G Eric Townsend (Letters, 21 March) should read the book (published by Robert Hale), and he will find that Churchill knew of, yet denied, the presence of mustard gas.

Nevil Skrimshire

Rayleigh, Essex