PTI Oct 3, 2013, 06.50AM IST
(Historian Giles Milton…)

LONDONWinston Churchill wanted chemical weapons to be used against “troublesome” tribes in north India during British colonial rule to suppress them, a noted historian has claimed citing an official memo.

Giles Milton, who has written a number of non-fiction historical books, has illustrated Churchill’s commitment to the use of chemical weapons, explaining that he had supported their use against rebellious Indian tribes in early 20th century when he was not the Prime Minister.

“What I found really shocking was when he (Churchill) wrote this internal memo to the India Office, along the lines of ‘we should use it against the tribes on the North West front. They’re really troublesome, let’s gas them,” Giles was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

“There’s a line in the memo that says, ‘I really don’t understand this squeamishness about poison gas’. Today that reads pretty badly,” Milton said.

The British historian made the remarks following his appearance at the Wigtown Book Festival to promote his new book ” Russian Roulette”, the paper said.

Milton also claimed that Churchill sanctioned the “most devastating chemical weapon ever devised” against the Russian Bolsheviks.

“Churchill, who was secretary of state for war at the time, wanted to really go hard against the Bolsheviks in Russia. He wanted to support the ‘White Army‘ in their fight against the Red Army but the Government simply refused to countenance that,” Milton was quoted as saying.

“The British had developed this highly secret chemical weapon called the M Device, which is like a shell with a canister of gas on the end. It was developed at Porton laboratories in Wiltshire and described by the head of munitions as the most devastating chemical weapon ever devised. It had been invented but not used,” Milton said.

“Churchill’s idea was to use the M Device against the Russian Bolsheviks. 50,000 of them were taken up in planes and then dropped on the Bolshevik Red Army positions and Bolshevik controlled villages in northern Russia between August and September 1918,” he said.

Milton explained that he had been researching his new book when he discovered a little known document in the National Archives compiled by British scientists who had been sent to Russia to record the effects of the M Device on the Bolsheviks.

Asked what impact this revelation could have on the image of Churchill as one of Britain’s greatest historical figures, Milton said: “He’s a great Briton but there are other sides to his character. He was advocating the mass use of chemical weapons.”

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