Oxford Seminar in the History of Alchemy and Chemistry

'The role of chemists in the development of First World War respirators'

pic ox sem chemistry

Shelley Castle (Sommerville College)

Chemical weapons are one of the most well-known weapons of the First World War, immortalised in the poetry of the time and many publications. But, to date, little has been said about the complexities of how this weapon was fought with the creation of the respirator and the role that chemists played. Nor has it fully explored the limitations of this process and the tactical implications of the respirator. The details, successes and limitations of this risky, experimental and innovative process will be shared with you as part of this paper. 


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Conveners: Judith Rainhorn and John Christie