Publications


Over the years Mike has written many scripts, books and other musings. You will find some of them here.

Contents

‘RETRIBUTION’

Juppy’s first published novel, synopsis and review.

‘PRATCIDENTS’! 

‘It’ll All Be Over By Christmas’

Newspaper series on little known stories of Disasters, catastrophes, stupidity and heroism from The First World War.

‘THE DARK SIDE OF SUSSEX’

Tales of disaster, scandal, murder, mayhem, folklore. Fiasco, origins and warfare. From my home County of Sussex! 

‘It’ll all be over by Christmas’ – was a collection of articles written for The Observer Series of Newspapers as part of the 2014 centenary commemorations of WW1.

The popular image of, ‘The Great War’ is of 2 vast and opposing armies, cowering in muddy trenches, separated by a few yards of barbed-wire festooned killing fields known as ‘No Man’s Land’

That image is only partly true. The First World War was exactly that, a WORLD war. My stories were of; action, heroism, sacrifice, catastrophe, and unbelievable stupidity: events that have been mostly forgotten and consigned to the murky backwaters of history.

“IT’LL ALL BE OVER BY CHRISTMAS” – PART 2

There is a truly beautiful memorial at Park Lane’s Brook Gate in London’s Hyde Park. Unveiled by The Princess Royal in November 2004 it is a memorial to all the animals that have died in the service of Man during the wars of the 20th Century. Sculptor David Backhouse has achieved what few sculptors have managed to achieve, the human emotions of pity, elation and, hidden collective guilt.

Some two hundred years ago, the great German writer Heinrich Heine observed,

‘Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid’.

He was referring to an acquaintance, but he could just as easily have been referring to ‘Man’ – Homo Sapiens, because the description certainly fits. Heine penned many other gems including;

‘Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people’.

Well, if the gods judge us on the way we have treated the animals of this planet?…We’re all going to Hell in a handcart!

Oh!..and just WHAT did the British and Germans use slugs for? Keep reading and you’ll find out!

 

SLUGS AND MAIL AND PUPPY DOG TALES

(Part one)

Wars are usually the result of the paranoid, power filled schemes of ‘inadequates’. They are usually, but not exclusively men, with physical, mental or sexual problems. Kaiser Wilhelm II, ‘Kaiser Bill’, he of the withered arm and sulking attitude, delighted in sending the young men of Germany to War. Fires of jingoistic patriotism spread through Europe, and men in their millions flocked to ‘Serve the Flag’. Their animals had no choice! They too, died in their millions, through injury, disease and starvation –

This article is specifically about animal use in The Great War, but a brief catalogue of some of the more bizarre cruelties should be mentioned…even if it is difficult to believe.

From insects to primates, they’ve all been used in warfare, from the first recorded use of ‘War-dogs’ by Hammurabi, the sixth king of Babylon (1750 -1792 BC) whose codes of Law were the first to be compiled by Humanity, to the present day.

Most people have heard of Hannibal Barca, the Carthaginian general who waged war against Rome by crossing the Alps with his army and its elephants. Hannibal had also been a shrewd naval commander. Outnumbered by the enemy fleet of the King of Pergamum (Eumenes II) and literally about to go under, Hannibal ordered hundreds of clay pots to be hurled onto the decks of the enemy Galleys. The jars contained venomous snakes which, when released from the smashed containers, caused mass panic amongst the crews and saved the day for Hannibal. Incidentally, history does not record what fun was had or how the snakes were put into the jars in the first place.

Hannibal is famous for his use of ‘Elephant tanks’ against the Romans, Gauls etc, but he certainly wasn’t the first to use elephants in war, or the last. They were used against British forces as recently as the Anglo-Sikh wars of 1845 -1849.

Another ‘Animal Tank’ …equally dangerous, seriously unpredictable and faster, was the rhinoceros!  Armoured Asian rhinos had been used against War Elephants by the Portugese in the late 15th Century …but the prize for ingenuity and bravery (?) must go to the natives of Assam in North East India. They would fill their ‘rhino-weapon’ with alcohol, wait until it was facing the ranks of the enemy, and then poke a part of its vulnerable backside with a sharp stick. The berserk rhino–missile would hurtle straight at (hopefully) the terrified enemy!

Another anti-elephant device was smoky bacon! The Romans sought to reverse the charges of Hannibal’s elephants by covering pigs in pitch, setting them alight and releasing them. The squeals and smell of the oncoming hamburgers scattered the terrified jumbos.

The Chinese, inventors of many things including gunpowder, used oxen both as a beast of burden and as a weapons delivery system. Gunpowder filled panniers were strapped to the creatures, who were then herded towards the enemy with fuses burning. The result was pure carnage.

The great Genghis Khan employed a similar tactic at the Siege of Volohoi, China (c. AD1210). The equestrian Mongol horde, thwarted by Volohoi’s impenetrable city walls, resorted to a siege mentality. The proven tactic began to take its toll as the starving inhabitants began to drop dead. The survivors pleaded with the Khan to lift the siege, and to their amazement he agreed, but only after they had collected hundreds of cats and caged swallows demanded of them by crafty old Genghis. If this story is true, one wonders why they hadn’t already eaten the cats? Anyway, not wanting the truth to get in the way of a good story – Doubtless, there was much celebration in the city when the Mongols, equipped with their creature conscripts, disappeared over the hills and far away. But, unfortunately for the Chinese, they came back!

Out of the view of Chinese eyes, the Mongols had been tying rags to the tails of the cats and birds. At the base of the city walls the unlucky creatures were ignited. They flew and fled back into the wooden built city, the resulting fires distracting the defenders sufficiently for the Mongols to get over the walls – and massacre everyone in sight.

A similar tactic was considered in WW2 but this time with bats instead of cats.

Contemporary magazine feature..It really did happen!
Contemporary magazine feature..It really did happen!

In 1942 an American Dental Surgeon by the name of Lytle Adams proposed using a species of American bat (American Free-Tailed) as an incendiary bomb. His idea was that hibernating bats, with explosives sewn into their belly skin, having been dropped from a bomber over Japan, would wake up in mid-drop, start flying, and take shelter in the many wooden houses of Japan’s cities. He predicted that once they were safely hanging upside down in their new wooden homes, they would start chewing on the irritant explosives which would set off the charge. Everything would burn to the ground and Japan would surrender.

During the first trial flight, the bats, still in a state of hibernation, were dropped from the ‘plane. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t wake up. They didn’t fly anywhere, they just made small, but deep, bat shaped craters over a wide part of the USA.  Not surprisingly, just like the bats, the project was dropped.

From monkeys, to rats, throughout history setting creatures alight seems to have been a favorite wartime subterfuge.

Nearer to the present day, the Soviet Union trained explosive clad ‘suicide bomber’ dolphins trained to approach enemy ships and/or frogmen where they would be ‘detonated’ by remote control. Today’s US forces use bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions in harbour protection and mine detection duties whilst Gambian Pouched Rats are used to sniff and locate land mines.

In 2003, Morocco offered US forces in Iraq thousands of Atlas Mountain monkeys trained in land mine detection. The ‘training’ it seems, involved the monkey’s ability to tread on a landmine and make it go bang!!

The record of animals utilized by man in warfare is as fascinating, and surprising, as it obscene!

What would Britain look like if powered motor vehicles were to suddenly disappear? It would seem unimaginable to us today. The streets would be more or less empty, less smelly and very quiet. It would have been equally difficult for the folk of Great Britain,in the summer of 1914, to imagine the streets suddenly being emptied of horses. Without horses, ponies, mules and donkeys, the streets would have been more or less empty, less smelly and very quiet. Then, on June 28th 1914, Gavrilo Princip shot Archduke Ferdinand and, as they say, ‘It all kicked off’.

The unimaginable became a reality.

In 1914 the British Army had around 20-25,000 horses, but the Government demanded the requisition of half a million more.  Everything from great shire and draft horses, to sturdy little ponies were rounded up. Farms were depleted of not just their horses, but in a lot of cases, especially in that of the large draft horses, lovingly cared-for, working ’pets’.

The Great War: “It’ll all be over by Christmas”, cried the recruiting Sergeants! But it wasn’t! The ‘powers that be’ had imagined victorious, sweeping cavalry charges, made by the only professional Army in Europe, the British.

In 1885, the similar clever men of British High Command had turned down Sir Hiram Maxim’s novel little invention, the ‘machine gun’. Some thought it of little use, while others deemed it distinctly, ‘ungentlemanly’. The Germans did not see it that way and began mass production of, ‘The Devil’s Paint Brush’, the ‘Maschinengewehr 08’ at the Spandau Arsenal in Berlin. Subsequent cavalry charges by the gallant British and their commonwealth Allies were met by hailstorms of lead, spewed from 12,000 machine guns firing on average 300-500 rounds a minute! Within months of the war starting, the Germans had nearly 100.000 such weapons, compared to the British, who could muster only a few hundred.

The impact of these industrial killing machines was instantly felt by cavalry units. Thousands of men and horses were torn to shreds as they charged uselessly against the Hun front lines. Front lines that were now decorated with the simple, but killingly effective invention of another American, Lucien B. Smith.

In 1867, Mr. Smith of Illinois had invented ‘Barbed Wire’, and its use in the trench warfare of 1914-18 was soon to become infamous.

Just some of the millions of the equine victims of WW1
Just some of the millions of the equine victims of WW1

The appalling slaughter of men and horses caused the British and French to rapidly abandon cavalry tactics and to resort to the stalemate of trench warfare.  The Germans had the high ground in trench warfare!  Literally!  The Germans, who had got to France before the British, built their trench defensive systems on high ground and ridges. This allowed them to dig deeper and to keep dry.  French and British trenches were mostly at sea level, which is why their trench systems turned into muddy, disease ridden, excrement filled, flooded sewers.

Disease was the greatest killer in wartime. A smorgasbord of ghastly illnesses killed more men than enemy fire during the First World War. Similarly it was disease and starvation that were the major cause of death amongst the horses, mules, donkeys and ponies of ALL the combatants.

As in most of the great pestilences the world has know, the humble rat, with its flea passengers, was a major contributor. Trench warfare provided rats with shelter and especially food. Food in abundance, most of it lying around, some human, but all dead!

Yorkshire Terriers and their relatives were especially gifted ratters and warmly welcomed by the inhabitants of the trenches. Dogs of most breeds were used by all sides. They ran messages and detected the wounded. They were used as guard and attack dogs, they pulled stretcher and machine gun carriages. Many were given awards for their ‘heroism’ but none more than a stray mutt that was to achieve stardom! SERGEANT STUBBY

SLUGS AND MAIL AND PUPPY DOG TALES

(Part two)

There is a truly beautiful memorial at Park Lane’s Brook Gate in London’s Hyde Park. Unveiled by The Princess Royal in November 2004 it is a memorial to all the animals that have died in the service of Man during the wars of the 20th Century. Sculptor David Backhouse has achieved what few sculptors have managed to achieve, the human emotions of pity, elation and, hidden collective guilt.

Some two hundred years ago, the great German writer Heinrich Heine observed,

‘Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid’.

He was referring to an acquaintance, but he could just as easily have been referring to ‘Man’ – Homo Sapiens, because the description certainly fits. Heine penned many other gems including;

‘Where they burn books, they will eventually burn people’.

Well, if the gods judge us on the way we have treated the animals of this planet?…We’re all going to Hell in a handcart!

Oh!..and just WHAT did the British and Germans use slugs for? Keep reading and you’ll find out!

‘Sgt.STUBBY’. –

The little dog that was to become the most decorated dog of WWI.

In 1917 a stray Pit-bull type dog walked into an army training session at Yale Field in Connecticut USA. A corporal by the name of John Robert Conroy decided to adopt the little fellow, naming him Stubby on account of his little stubby tail. America entered the war that same year and Conroy smuggled him into France with his regiment, the 102nd, 26th Infantry Division.

Apparently Stubby had learned how to march with the soldiers on the drill field, and had even been taught to salute. When Conroy’s commanding officer discovered the illicit mutt, Conroy gave the order, ‘Present Arms’ to which Stubby stood on hind legs and saluted the officer. From that moment on he was officially the mascot of, ‘The Yankee Division’ and off to war he went.

He was given especially made ‘dog tags’ and along with his regiment, was soon in the horror of battle. He was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and nearly died in a mustard gas attack. Far from rolling over and dying he recovered and became a gas detector for his men! His sense of smell warned of impending gas attacks. He would run up and down the trenches barking, and biting the men until they put on their gas masks. Stubby would then run off and hide until the gas had cleared.

His hearing was so acute he could hear the whistling of incoming shells before the troops could, and would bark a warning. He could distinguish between English and German speakers, and could smell the difference. Running up and down the trenches he would bark, then bite the sentry, in order to warn of approaching German, bratwurst scented troops.

The little dog’s acute sense of hearing saved many a wounded Doughboy from ‘No-Mans Land’. Because he could differentiate between English and German he would lead the English speaker back to the allied lines, or if the wounded man was too badly wounded, he would stay and bark for help.

In April 1918, during the Second Battle of the Marne, Stubby was severely injured by a grenade, receiving shrapnel wounds to his chest and front legs. He was operated on and his life saved. When he had recovered he returned to the front line and was with his regiment when it liberated the town of Chateau Thierry.

Sgt. Stubby wearing his famous medal-festooned coat
Sgt. Stubby wearing his famous medal-festooned coat

The women of the town were so taken with the little dog’s exploits that they made him a chamois jacket. They decorated it with his name, and flags of the allied nations. Following that, the Americans made him an infantryman’s jacket to which his medals were attached. Stubby’s medals included; the Purple Heart, the Medal of Verdun, the Republic of France Grande War Medal, as well as his various campaign medals.

There is no ‘official’ record of his promotion to ‘Sergeant’. However it is believed to have occurred in the September of 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne campaign. While patrolling his trenches, Stubby discovered a camouflaged German spy who was recording American trench emplacements. Smelling the enemy, he attacked the man, biting him in the leg. When the German made a run for it Stubby launched himself, and latched onto the soldier’s buttocks. He didn’t let go until the Americans came running to investigate the bloodcurdling screams.

Ironically, promotion to Sergeant meant that Stubby outranked his owner, as John Conroy was still a Corporal. Not only that, Sergeant Stubby received yet another medal. This time it was the Iron Cross that had been removed from the German with the bite marked buttocks!

Sgt. Stubby was smuggled back into America where he became a National hero. He campaigned for American War Bonds, and was allowed to stay in Five Star hotels, despite their ‘No Dogs’ policies. He was presented at The White House twice, and introduced to no less than three American Presidents. He was made a member of The American Legion, offered free food for life by the YMCA, and in 1921, General ‘Black Jack’ Pershing pinned a unique ‘Dog Hero Gold Medal’ onto his military jacket.

In 1926 Sgt. Stubby went to the big kennel in the sky. He was believed to be about ten years old. His preserved remains are on display, along with a record of his exploits, at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  Good dog Stubby!

‘CHER AMI’.

The preserved remains of ‘Cher Ami’
The preserved remains of ‘Cher Ami’

Communication was then, as it is now, a key factor in any battle. In WWI the humble pigeon became a vital part of the communication chain, and the most famous of all carrier pigeons was one called, ‘Cher Ami’.(Dear Friend) The bird, originally thought to have been male, had been donated by  British ‘Pigeon Fanciers’ to the American Signals Corp.

‘Friendly Fire’ was then, as it is now, a regrettable part of many a battle. On October 3rd 1918, approximately 500 men of the 77th Division, forever to be known as ‘The Lost Battalion’, found themselves trapped behind enemy lines. 197 were killed in action and over the next few days approximately 150 went missing or were taken prisoner. Runners had either been shot, captured or simply got lost in the Argonne Forest. The remaining 194 men, commanded by Major Charles White Whittlesey, were in a desperate state, low on food, water and ammunition. To make matters worse, a carrier pigeon message sent by them, gave the wrong coordinates. American gunners began to rain shells down onto the beleaguered troops of the 77th. Their remaining pigeons, carrying a variety of desperate messages, were blasted out of the sky by German bullets.

‘Cher Ami’ was their last hope. Whittlesey placed his note into the pigeon’s leg canister,

The message carried by Cher Ami
The message carried by Cher Ami

The message read ‘WE ARE ALONG THE ROAD PARALELL 276.4. OUR ARTILLERY IS DROPPING A BARRAGE DIRECTLY ON US. FOR HEAVENS SAKE STOP IT’

The pigeon was released and was almost immediately shot down. Cher Ami had been hit in the breast, blinded in one eye, and had a leg almost severed, held on by a just thin piece of tendon.

Despite her injuries, she flew again, covering the 25 miles to her loft in just over an hour. The message was read, and the bombardment ceased. On the 8th October, the remaining men of ‘The Lost Battalion’ were rescued. Cher Ami was operated on, but the surgeons couldn’t save her shattered leg. In its place she was fitted with a wooden leg. The same General ‘Black Jack’ Pershing oversaw the pigeons ‘ticket home’ to the USA. The little bird died of her wounds on the 13th June 1919, but not before she had been awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Oak Leaf Cluster, for earlier delivering 12 vital messages at Verdun.

Cher Ami’s remains are also on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

‘MURPHY THE DONKEY’-

If there was a Great War equivalent to the 1942 ‘Battle of Stalingrad’ then it was probably the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. The Turkish Dardanelles is a narrow stretch of water that connects The Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmora, which in turn, leads to The Black Sea. By 1915 it was the only remaining major trade route open to Britain’s ally Russia! When the crumbling Ottoman Empire threw in its lot with Kaiser Bill’s boys, the route closed.

The British First Sea Lord, a certain Winston Churchill, thought of a cunning plan to re-open the route. The Royal Navy would deliver a seaborne invasion force onto the beaches at Gallipoli and secure the Dardanelles.

It could have worked…but it didn’t!

On the dawn of April 25th, Australian, New Zealand, French and Indian troops waded ashore from the invasion boats onto a little beach at a cove they named, ‘Anzac’. Unlike D-Day 1944, the allied troops did not break out from the beach-head. They were pinned down on the beaches and adjoining cliffs, suffering horrendous casualties for the next ten months. If ever troops (and Nations) needed a morale lifting story it was at Gallipoli, and it arrived in the shape of a Tyneside hero – and a little donkey.

John ‘Jack’ Simpson Kirkpatrick, was born in South Shields, County Durham in 1892. As a youth he worked with donkeys on the summer beaches. Kirkpatrick joined the Merchant Navy, but in1910, he jumped ship in Australia. He roamed Australia for a while, and then enlisted in order to get back to England. To avoid being identified as a deserter, he changed his name to Simpson. He had enlisted as a stretcher bearer in the 3rd Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps, a position that was only assigned to physically strong men.

It’s not known for certain whether Simpson had ‘borrowed’ the Donkey prior to the landings, or if he had found it in the vicinity of ‘Anzac Cove’. With bullets, shells and shrapnel flying all over the place it may well have been abandoned by one of the Greek Drivers who used donkeys to carry tins of water. What is known is that by April 26th he was carrying the wounded on the little donkey which he had named ‘Murphy’ (‘Abdul’? ‘Duffer’ or ‘Duffy?’). For the next 3 and a half weeks, seemingly oblivious to shell and sniper fire, Simpson and Murphy, working up to 15 hours a day, carried over three hundred wounded men down from the hills to be evacuated from the beach. ‘The bloke with the Donk,’ became a whistling, singing symbol of defiance, resolution and bravery.

On the 19th May 1915, during the third attack on Anzac Cove, Jack Simpson was killed, in Monash Valley (Shrapnel Gulley) shot in the back by Turkish machine gun fire. He was just 22 years old.

Simpson became just one more corpse amongst the other 8,700 Australian, 2,700 New Zealand, 43,000 British, 15,000 French and 1,370 Indian corpses. (Total Turkish deaths were around 60,000.)

Murphy the Donkey and ‘Jack’ Kirkpatrick
Murphy the Donkey and ‘Jack’ Kirkpatrick

Jack’s mother learnt of his death when a letter to him was returned to her from the War Ministry with the single word ‘killed’ written across the front of the envelope!

John ‘Jack’ Simpson Kirkpatrick’ is buried in the ‘ANZAC’ Commonwealth War Grave,

And the Donkey?..a few days later he was stolen, and the story of his fate lost to eternity.

As late as 2006, Australian appeals to the British Government for Simpson to be awarded the Victoria Cross had been rejected. A mixture of contemporary military incompetence and continuing, Great British snobbery!

Read between the lines of these words spoken by Section Sgt. Hookway at Jack’s burial and you’ll have a clue as to why he has been, ‘overlooked’:

“a big man and very muscular, though aged only 22 and was selected at once as a stretcher bearer… he was too human to be a parade ground soldier, and strongly disliked discipline; though not lazy he shirked the drudgery of ‘forming fours’, and other irksome military tasks.”

RIP Jack!  RIP Murphy!

‘RIN- TIN- TIN’.

Illustrator Francisque Poulbot’s, Nenette and Rintintin
Illustrator Francisque Poulbot’s, Nenette and Rintintin

During 1913, two new characters found their way into French street culture. They were a pair of lucky charm ragamuffins, designed by the French illustrator and poster artist, Francisque Poulbot. A little boy and girl, usually about an inch in height, and usually made of red, white and blue yarn, were a symbol of friendship, love and romance. Designed to be worn in a button hole or hat band, the ‘boy’ character was called ‘Nenette.’ And the little girl?  Well, she was called, ‘Rintintin’!

The Battle of Saint-Mihiel from 12-15th September 1918 is remembered for a lot of things. In particular it was the first time the terms; ‘D-Day’ and ‘H-Hour’ were used. It was also when a U.S. Army Corporal, from the American Expeditionary Force, went for a walk and found something that would change his life forever.

Because a Swiss Newspaper had published the date, time, location and even the duration of an impending American artillery barrage, the Germans decided to withdraw from the St. Mihiel Salient. Because of that, Corporal Lee Duncan could move forward on a special reconnaissance mission. Cpl. Duncan was near the small French village of Flirey, looking for  some suitable ground to use as a landing strip for aircraft. He came across some recently bombed buildings which, on closer inspection, proved to be wrecked dog kennels that had until recently supplied German Shepherd Dogs to the German Army. In amongst the debris were an abandoned Alsatian bitch and her five puppies. After the puppies were weaned, Duncan gave the mother to an officer, and three of the puppies to colleagues, the remaining two he named ‘Nenette’ and ‘Rintintin’.

Cpl. Duncan smuggled them back to the USA whereupon little Nenette died. ‘Rinty’ as Duncan called ‘him’ went on to become a film star. Duncan had painstakingly trained the dog to obey a large number of commands. In 1922 he was asked if the dog could act as a replacement for an obstreperous, untalented wolf that was needed as an extra in a short film called The Man From Hell’s River’. Rin-Tin-Tin’s acting abilities put the wolf to shame and, under the stage name, ‘Ran-Tan’, he went on to play a wolf in several other short films.

The ‘Great Depression’ of the 1920’s was taking its toll of Box-Office takings. He appeared in the 1923 film ‘Where the North Begins’ and was credited under his own name of Rin-Tin-Tin. The German shepherd dog delighted audiences, and the film was a huge box-office hit, becoming known as, ‘The film that saved Warner Brothers’. Rin-Tin-Tin’s fame spread worldwide, and he went on to make a further 27 films. Ex Corporal Duncan’s marvelous dog became such a hit that he was then to become known as, ‘The Dog that saved Hollywood’

On May 16th,1929, the first Film Academy Awards (The Oscars) were held at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Las Angeles. It had been assessed that Rinty had received far more Academy Nominations for best Actor- than anyone else! The rules were very quickly amended to apply only to humans!

Rin-Tin-Tin died in 1932. He had sired 48 puppies; one owned by Greta Garbo another by Jean Harlow. He has his own ‘star’ on, ‘The Hollywood Walk of Fame’ and is buried at, Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques in Paris, in the country of his birth, France.

SID & SIEGFRIED SLUG. –

European Glow Worms (Lampyris Noctiluca) were collected by the hundred and contained in glass jars. Because of their quite considerable bio-luminescence (light!) qualities, they were used in order to read maps etc in the gloom of the trenches.

However, it was the humble garden slug that was to prove to be an actual lifesaver for both British and German troops. For years scientists had been trying to find an early warning detection system for poison gas. Everything from flies, to fleas to birds and other animals had been experimented with, but to no avail. Then Dr. Paul Bartsch of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington USA, decided to conduct,’ slug trials’. In Dr.Bartsch’s own words,

“It was demonstrated that he (Sid?) could show the presence of mustard gas in a solution of one part in twelve million parts of air. He could even do more, for upon closer inspection it was found that by means of the slug’s reaction it was possible to determine the actual proportion of gas in the air. Since one part of mustard gas in four million parts of air marked the danger point in man, there was tremendous leeway which gave ample opportunity to sound a signal for putting on masks.”

Sulphur mustard, ‘Mustard gas’, when coming into contact with moisture produces hydrochloric acid. The gas/acid would burn the delicate lung membranes of any air-breathing creature. But, Sid the slug, on detecting the stuff would instantly react by basically, closing it’s ‘mouth’!

By the simple expedient of using an old shoe-box containing a slug on a damp sponge, thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives were saved.

“The lamb misused breeds public strife
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.”

– William Blake

 

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