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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-63
Number of pages45
JournalWar and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • human experimentation
  • British Army
  • World War II
  • military ethics
  • oral history

Cite this