In this episode we are discussing chemical weapons. It might seem like an odd topic, unlike the First World War which saw the deployment of gas, chemical weapons were not used on the battlefield of Europe in WWII. But there was a fear of them being used; everyone carried a gas mask and the belligerent nations had huge chemical weapons industries working throughout the war.
I’m Joined by Brett Edwards.
Brett is a senior lecture at Bath University, he is also the host of the poisons and pestilence podcast.
One lesson the allies learned from the fall of France in 1940 was that civilian populations needed managing, to keep them away from military operations. As the allied troops came-a-shore after D-Day in June 1944, with them would be Civil Affairs units. These units were to act as liaisons between the allied combat troops and the civilians they encountered. The remit for the Civil Affairs units was wide and extremely varied, from keeping roads clear of refugees to feeding and housing local populations that war had ravaged.
Joining me today is David Borys.
David is a Canadian academic whose book Civilians at the Sharp End looks at the experiences of the Civilian Affairs units attached to the Canadian First Army. David is also the host of the popular podcast Cool Canadian History, a bi-weekly podcast on everything and anything to do with Canadian History.