Deadly chemicals hidden in war cache (Australia)

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FOR more than 60 years RAAF veterans Geoff Burn and Arthur Lewis kept silent about the terrible secret hidden in a disused railway tunnel at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

Thousands of barrels filled with chemical weapons, including mustard gas, were stored in the tunnel at Glenbrook and other sites around Australia during the Second World War.

The men were part of a secret unit formed to look after the deadly stockpile, kept for use against Japanese troops - a fact the Defence Department refused to admit until the late 1980s. And for decades successive governments refused to disclose that the Australian wartime command had conducted chemical warfare experiments on its own soldiers.

Army volunteers were sprayed with and exposed to the gases, suffering horrifying burns and boils as well as lifelong health problems.

Messrs Burn and Lewis, former RAAF armourers, refused to join Anzac Day marches and wouldn't talk about their time in the Glenbrook tunnel.

Now, after decades of denials, the military is about to recognise the unit's contribution to the war effort.

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