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Civilians into soldiersWar, the body and British Army recruits, 1939-45$
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Emma Newlands

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088049

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088049.001.0001

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Experimentation

Experimentation

Chapter:
(p.90) 3 Experimentation
Source:
Civilians into soldiers
Author(s):

Emma Newlands

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719088049.003.0004

This chapter explores the medical and scientific experiments that were conducted on army personnel between 1939 and 1945. These included trials of therapeutic drugs, synthetic stimulants and exposure to chemical agents. It examines the aims and objectives of agencies like the Medical Research Council and the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment at Porton Down, which conducted wartime research. These provide glimpses into the mind-set and decisions made by experimenters regarding the types of bodies that were considered most useful and the levels of risk to which they were to be exposed. The chapter then explores how servicemen encountered medical and scientific experiments. It shows that while some men were forced to take part in human trials by military superiors, many others willingly volunteered. They did so for extra money, time off or to enjoy an enhanced sense of status. Participants also had clear ethical expectations for their bodies, such as being informed about the nature of tests, providing voluntary consent and receiving safeguards to protect their health. This chapter therefore highlights the active role that soldiers played in shaping wartime research as they engaged, and indeed withdrew, their bodies in the demands of experimental science.

Keywords:   Human experimentation, Chemical warfare, Clinical trials, Ethics, Military Personnel Research Committee, Porton Down

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