German chancellor Adolf Hitler looks out at a rally staged by the Nazi Party.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
World War II witnessed the infamous introduction of horrifying new weaponry to modern warfare, but the latest out of the American archives has been kept secret until now.
According to The Times, declassified American archival material has revealed that Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) planned to disrupt German and Japanese officers by "spraying them with stinking fluid," that was contained in perfume bottles or gel-grenades and designed to cover enemies with a "highly persistent smell suggestive of personal uncleanliness." The weapon was known as "S liquid" with the S being short for "stench."
S liquid was based on a bacterial compound called skatole, which reeks of feces, The Times
"Up to the present, our employment of evil-smelling substances has been mainly for the purpose of contaminating individuals' clothing," British Wing Commander TR Bird wrote in a letter to the American pre-CIA intelligence organization the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). "Since the air in any ordinary public meeting room is generally free from smell, almost any strange smell which cannot readily be accounted for would arouse suspicion which might easily culminate in fear or even panic."
In the end, America chose to develop its own stink bomb, which they code-named "Who, Me?" and mixed the smells of vomit, goat, and smelly-feet. However, The Times
noted, a few weeks before it was to be deployed against the Japanese, America dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The documents were discovered by American science writer Mary Roach, who discusses the stink bombs and more in her book Grunt.