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The use of drugs in WW1


Clive Temple
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Fascinating information. Do you know what years the men were sentenced? Interested to see if there was a change, in respect of DORA provisions in 1916.

Also in respect of Ironside, 11 kilos of hash is certainly considered to be a large amount by most people's standards. Far more than what one expect for personal consumption.

Regards, Michael

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  • 2 years later...

In doing some research it seems drug use was widespread in Russia during WW I and the Civil war

Hashish and opium use were in wide use in the Red army during the Russian civil war according to the Books White eagle Red star and Warsaw 1920

There was widespread Opium use among the Russian upper classes before and during WW I

In an article in "Warship International" magazine 4/1889 "British naval operations in the Black Sea 1918-1920" mentions widespread cocaine use among Russian naval officers their wives, the Russian upper classes in Sevastopol.

Morphine and other drugs were handed out quite liberally in Russian hospitals during the war according to the books "Ambasitors memors" and the online "Field Hospital and Flying Column"

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When I was a student nurse (first incarnation) in the early 1980s, cocaine was used as a vasoconstrictor in ENT

Michelle

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  • 3 months later...

In doing more reading during the past few years it seems cocaine use was common among the Russian upper classes during WW I. It also seems it and drug usage also was common among members of the Cheka (the Soviet secret police) during the Russian Civil War period and after.

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I came across this note reading El Comercio, date Saturday 15 January 1916

COKE AND WAR CONTRABAND

London, Jan 14 - At the House of Lords Lord Sydenham said neutral powers are sending large quantities of coke to Germany. He asked to the government why coke is not item branded as war contraband. Lord Landsdowne supported Sydenham and said the government does its best to stop all trafficking from inside or outside Germany.

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There was a mad talk given by the author of 'Charley's War' a couple of years ago and published on the 'Net, in which he claimed that British soldiers were doped up with cocaine before being sent into battle.

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I came across this note reading El Comercio, date Saturday 15 January 1916

COKE AND WAR CONTRABAND

London, Jan 14 - At the House of Lords Lord Sydenham said neutral powers are sending large quantities of coke to Germany. He asked to the government why coke is not item branded as war contraband. Lord Landsdowne supported Sydenham and said the government does its best to stop all trafficking from inside or outside Germany.

Is this coke as cocaine or coke as coal, though?

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  • 2 years later...

While looking up something on Welsh Newspapers Online, I noticed a reference to the selling of cocaine to soldiers. Further investigation produced the court cases transcribed below, but the only servicemen who were mentioned in reported court cases were Canadians, and one American serving in the Canadian Forces. Could there have been press censorship of British servicemen involved in cocaine-related court cases? 

 

COCAINE FOR SOLDIERS.

At Folkestone Police-court, Horace Dennis Kingley was sentenced to six months' hard labour for supplying cocaine to soldiers on three different occasions. Corporal Price , of the 8th Canadian Battalion, said he received some of the powder on three occasions from the prisoner. On the last occasion he went to Dover with the prisoner, who bought two drams at a chemist's shop. Witness was acting under instructions.
Captain Murray, of the Canadian Army Medical Corps, said cocaine was very dangerous. It eventually led to insanity, and it was very difficult to get out of the habit. At a camp hospital they had forty cases of drug habit.
Prisoner asserted he did not sell the drug; he gave it away. He had taken it five or six years, and it made one most keen on what he was doing.
Rose Edwards, charged with similar offences, was also sentenced to six months' hard labour.
Corporal Price was complimented by the Bench for his work in connection with the case.
Abergavenny Chronicle,  Friday 18th February 1916

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"The use of cocaine is now largely increasing among soldiers, particularly those belonging to the overseas contingent."
The Cambria Daily Leader, Friday 12th May 1916

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http://newspapers.library.wales/view/4121830/4121836/85/

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THE COCAINE EVIL.

 

Three Months' Hard Labour for a Purveyor.


George Stephen Hunter (24), officers' mess steward, of Hampstead-road, N.W., was charged at Marlborough-street, London, on Monday with aiding and abetting in unlawfully selling cocaine to a member of his Majesty's forces on July 11th.
Mr. Herbert Muskett, for the Commissioner of Police, said prisoner was charged with aiding and abetting four men who were convicted last week of selling cocaine to a sergeant of the Canadian Army Police.
A police constable stated that he saw prisoner in Lisle-street, Leicester-square, with the men now undergoing sentence, and boxes of cocaine were sold to a soldier who was accompanied by a woman. Three boxes were sold for 10s. On the 13th July witness saw prisoner with two other men in Great William-street with two Canadian soldiers and three women, and they entered a public-house. Next day he saw the accused handing boxes of cocaine to the two men in Coventry-street. When arrested accused said he was a Canadian officers' mess steward at Salisbury Plain from January to June.
Detective-Sergt. Elliott said he had seen cocaine passed between the men on several occasions.
Prisoner said he never had any dealings in cocaine. He knew the men engaged in the business, as he played billiards with them, but he had no share in it.
Mr. Denman (magistrate): The evidence shows that you did deal in this stuff.
Three months' imprisonment with hard labour was passed.
The Cambria Daily Leader, Tuesday 25th July 1916

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CANADIAN'S ADVENTURES.


Strange circumstances attending the alleged robbery of £5 in Treasury notes from Mrs. Ruth Cummings, described as a doctor's wife, were further investigated at Westminster Police Court on Tuesday. The accused, Joseph Albert St. Julien, a young sergeant in the Canadian contingent, surrendered to his recognisance on remand.
Prosecutrix stated she made the acquaintance of the accused on a bus about a month ago. On the night of the 16th inst. she met the soldier outside her flat, and the fastening of her handbag unloosening he took from the bag a roll of notes, in which her keys were wrapped, and ran off with the money. Meeting accused again, she gave him time to return the money, which he said he had only taken for fun, intending to return it. He also said he wrapped the notes in a handkerchief, and they were gone when he woke up in the morning.
Detective Goldsmith deposed that on arrest defendant said: "I admit I was with her. I don't know anything about the money. I had her keys, and sent them back by post."
Cross-examined, prosecutrix said she had no recollection of defendant being at her flat. She was married three years ago at Boston, Massachusetts, and had recently been living with her husband at Pimlico.
Defendant stated in evidence that he made the casual acquaintance of prosecutrix by sitting next to her outside a bus late at night. She said she was a Canadian and offered him chocolate. Afterwards she invited him to her flat, of which he gave an intimate interior description. On his first visit prosecutrix produced an opium pipe and a box of opium. She asked if he would have some, and also offered him a white snuff, which she said was cocaine. She took some herself. On another night, or rather early morning, she gave him five or six sniffs of cocaine, and it made him feel sick and silly. Seeing he was bad, she gave him her keys, so that he could let himself in again in the morning. He went back to headquarters feeling ill, and when he woke up he found a small tin box wrapped in a handkerchief inside his pocket. This contained a white powder, cocaine, which he got rid of. He never had the money he was accused of taking, and he sent back her keys by post, addressed to Miss Ruth Hayes, the name she gave him.
Prosecutrix said she had no questions to ask.
Mr. Francis (the magistrate): That being so, all I can say is that it is a story of a very unsatisfactory character. Nobody could convict, and so the prisoner must be discharged.
Herald of Wales and Monmouthshire Recorder, Saturday 2nd September 1916

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THE COCAINE EVIL.


Canadian Corporal Who Alleged Doping.


At Marlborough-street Police Court on Friday, Robert Rosborough (24), a Canadian corporal, was charged on remand with being an unauthorised person having a quantity of cocaine in his possession; also with being an absentee from his regiment. The police evidence was that the constable saw the accused in company with a woman in Soho. When the constable told him he should arrest him as a deserter, accused threw two pill boxes to the ground. The boxes were found to contain cocaine. The accused was not a Canadian, but was born in America. At the station accused said, "I know nothing about it. I am doped; I am doped."
The sergeant-major gave prisoner a bad character.
Prisoner said he never had any cocaine in his possession, and that the police evidence was not true.
The magistrate imposed a sentence of six months' hard labour and ordered deportation.
The Cambria Daily Leader, Friday 10th November 1916

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The first reported case involving a British soldier, that I could find, was in 1919, a Thomas Crowder, of the King's Liverpool Regiment.

http://newspapers.library.wales/view/4119537/4119541/46/

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   Cocaine was not illegal in the UK until the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920.  Nor was Heroin (which is not a real name but an invented trade name-like "aspirin"- and a trademark).  The offences dealt with above were for selling cocaine to members of the armed forces- which was made illegal at the prompting of the military authorities by regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act in 1916.  There were already restrictions on the sale of  opium under the Opiun Covention of 1912, the result of a very long campaign beginning in the 1870s by the Anti-Opium Society-the prime aim being the regulation of Opium in the Empire-the home market was almost incidental.

     I have seen little or nothing on the use of  "Class A" by troops in the Great War-by which I mean in the front line as well as away from it. That DORA was used to regulate  suggests there were problems in 1914-1915 but I cannot obviously see there are any convenient TNA files about it.  We have much on the mental after effects of war in the literature of post-war problems but very little on dug misuse during the war years-the concentration is rather on "shell shock" and its history.

     The years either side of the Great War saw a great deal of activity regarding drugs and "stimulants. In the States, the greatest stroke was that tobacco was not classed as a medicine or drug and therefore subject to regulation and prescription. Of course, it is a truism that front line troops have stimulants- rum and tobacco from the Great War.  Of course, the great  increase in tobacco use during the war was ,in retrospect, the promotion of one drug and the restrictions of others- that is, that the surge in tobacco consumption and advertising that was  a feature of Edwardian England continued during the war. If it were not for this great surge in tobacco especially during the war, then the the work of Sir Richard Doll after the Second World War that statistically nailed smoking as the cause of lung cancer might not have taken place. Perhaps it was only the increased mortality from lung cancer that worked through to men in their 50s, 60s and Seventies that generated the researcrh-with not that much on the causation -which was the smoking habit acquired during the Great War (My Dad died of a heart attack, heavy smoker-introduced to smoking by his father, a navy Chief-who chucked him 2 drums of Players in Portobello in 1942).

      I hope there is literature out there on these topics for the Great War, to which members (that means you Jane) will alert me- Once we accept that men under stress will seek escapes, then there are all sorts of avenues of enquiry that might be lurking deep in the archives- eg illegal stills by soldiers?   RAMC officers court-martialled or removed for self-dosing on morphine?  Blindness from wood alcohol?  Use of customs investigators. in France?   Looks like there is an Islington  trendies Waterstone book out there somehwere waiting to be written-or has it already???

 

     

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There was an inquest at Shorncliffe in 1915, into the death of a Canadian soldier from a heroin overdose. He and his friend had been ingesting it nasally, but the report didn't say how they had got hold of the heroin.

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came across the subject of cocaine usage in WW1 and its subsequent restriction by DORA whilst reading DeGroots 'Blighty' this morning. A quick internet search brought up this article

 

http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/body-and-mind/drugs-and-dora-2/

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  • 8 months later...

Nor was Heroin (which is not a real name but an invented trade name-like "aspirin"- and a trademark).

I remember reading somewhere that heroin and aspirin were both developed by the Bayer chemical company in about 1890. At the time, aspirin was considered the more dangerous of the two! And yet today heroin is banned, and during my childhood aspirin was the normal treatment for all kinds of aches and pains. At one time it was recommended (half a tablet a day) as a good way to diminish the risk of heart attacks, strokes and similar conditions.

 

Ron

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3 hours ago, Ron Clifton said:

I remember reading somewhere that heroin and aspirin were both developed by the Bayer chemical company in about 1890. At the time, aspirin was considered the more dangerous of the two! And yet today heroin is banned, and during my childhood aspirin was the normal treatment for all kinds of aches and pains. At one time it was recommended (half a tablet a day) as a good way to diminish the risk of heart attacks, strokes and similar conditions.

 

Ron

 

    Well, you are going strong Ron- so you must have taken the right one out of the choice of 2 in past years. ..........though you might find the wrong one is the easier to obtain in your childhood town centre nowadays. Nuff said:wub:

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  • 1 year later...

Apologies if this has been covered already.

 

While looking for something on the British Newspaper Archive, I couldn't help noticing the statement - "In one of his pockets was found a quantity of cordite which the officer said was sometimes used as a drug", in a nearby article

 

This was in connection with a Royal Engineers Private who had arrested on discharge from hospital, where he was being treated for shell shock, and who was charged with bigamy.

 

Not sure if that is meant to imply cordite was a stimulant \ narcotic, and also, if he was in hospital for treatment, how had he been able to hang on to a "quantity".

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

Imaged courtesy of BNA, from the edition of the Evening Despatch dated Saturday, 23 June 1917.

Evening Despatch - Saturday 23 June 1917 p3 Shell shocked Soldier sourced BNA.png

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46 minutes ago, PRC said:

Not sure if that is meant to imply cordite was a stimulant \ narcotic

Now from ancient memory, and I know this was fiction, but in Forsyth's "Day of the Jackel" as part of his disguise as a disabled war veteran wasn't the Jackel said to take grains to make him appear sweaty, grey and sick?

I have no real idea if this would be the case but I would suspect it wouldn't erring to be on the good side.

Know soap and other more domestic substances have been consumed to make an appearance of sickness for a soldier.

Perhaps the private was carrying and consuming for the same purpose???

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A few years ago, while researching a soldier who was reputed to be a "cordite eater", I found these reference articles:

 

The Evening Independent - Mar 28, 1917
Women and Girls Chew Cordiete, Then get Funny Funny Feeling

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19170328&id=1bwNAAAAIBAJ&sjid=BFQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5428,4323490&hl=en

 

Cordite eating and Cordite-Eaters
Major JW Jennings, DSO, RAMC

http://jramc.bmj.com/content/1/4/277.full.pdf+html

 

"MAD DRUNK" WITH CORDITE.
STAR, ISSUE 7866, 21 NOVEMBER 1903

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=TS19031121.2.39

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The German airforce used cocaine for the pilots, the idea was to make them quicker in their reactions and numb against the cold. I'm not sure if it really worked.

My grandfather was a locksmith and he worked in WW II in a weapons factory for the airforce, where he talked several times to Ernst Udet, who was supposed to supervise the development of new guns for planes there in 1939/40.

Udet always spoke with the civilians and common soldiers - and he talked a lot, due to his addiction to alcohol, cocaine and pervitin. He mentioned the cocaine several times when he talked about his time in WW I, but maybe it was just the excuse of an addict.

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