Author and historian Geoff Plunkett is keen to make contact with living relatives of stevedores that were exposed to mustard gas by the Government during World War 2.
In 1943 the chemical weapons carrier Idomeneus arrived in Australia laden with a top secret consignment of lethal mustard gas. But there was a problem — it was leaking. Military authorities quickly realised this but, in the interests of secrecy, sent unprotected and unsuspecting wharf labourers into a lethal environment. They first did so in Melbourne where the following stevedores are known to have been gassed;
Percy Alexander, J Campbell, Darrell Cook, F Dahlstedt, William Duck, L McDonald, S Mat(t)hews, F Prazenica (Prazenich?) and J Rowden
When the ship moved to Sydney the process was repeated. The following wharfies were gassed;
Andrew English, John Flanagan, John Gillanders, Frederick Horton, T Jones, J Kearney, Quentin, H (E?) Minor, P Muggivan (Muggerton?), Obrien, William Pearce, W Roach, George Whitton, Andrew Williams, Charles Wilson, A Smith, C Spiteri and William Swinton
The result was catastrophic: permanent disability and the deaths of Andrew Williams and OBrien. This fascinating and unknown stevedore story has taken 70 years to unearth and is told in the book 'Death By Mustard Gas: How Military Secrecy and Lost Weapons Can Kill' by Geoff Plunkett. The shocking narrative includes accounts of official deceit, intimidation of gassed labourers and denial of natural justice. The truth, buried in classified documents and the testimony of the few survivors, is that human life was sacrificed for the sake of secrecy.
The book is available here.
The author would be interested in making contact with any of the relatives of the stevedores listed above and can be contacted via email.