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'They even gave us oranges on one occasion' : human experimentation in the British Army during the Second World War

Newlands, Emma (2013) 'They even gave us oranges on one occasion' : human experimentation in the British Army during the Second World War. War and Society, 32 (1). pp. 19-63. ISSN 0729-2473

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Abstract

This article explores the various human experiments that were conducted on British army personnel during the Second World War. While some historical work has focused on trials at the Porton Down facility, this paper will start by placing these in the context of the wider range of research projects that were conducted using British troops in the Second World War. It will then consider the question of why conscript soldiers participated in trials. Comparative studies have focused on the ethics of human experimentation in military contexts but this article argues that ethical considerations were only part of the story. Using the oral testimonies of those that were involved in this type of research, it considers how military culture, material incentives and sentiments of national duty all influenced soldiers’ participation in human trials.