Stench warfare: British spies planned to use stink bombs to beat the Nazis
Codenamed S - for stench - Liquid, both US and British intelligence services worked to develop the stink weapon which would render fascists unbearably stinky and thus subject to contempt and humiliation by the populations of countries they had taken over.
Details have emerged in a new book on secret sabotage activities by historian Mary Roach, which details exchanges between the Special Operations Executive – the forerunner of today’s MI6 – and US spies working on similar projects.
Aimed for use against both German and Japanese soldiers, one letter described the aim of the stink bombs as being “to provide civilian populations with ... a liquid ... [that] will produce unmistakable evidence of extreme personal uncleanliness.”
In one letter between Wing Commander TR Bird and his American counterpart, the British officer said the liquid could have a disrupting effect in occupied zones.
“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,” he said.
The Americans were so taken with the idea that they started a project called ‘Who, Me?’ and spent more than two years developing a substance which would mimic as precisely as possible “the revolting odor of a very loose bowel movement.”
The technology was never fully used because only weeks after it was completed the US dropped atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, rendering what was arguably one of the strangest intelligence tactics ever developed irrelevant.