Watched an intriguing programme last night on BBC 4. I had read snippets about this but haven't really seen much in detail.
'World War Speed' - about the use of amphetamines by the Germans and Allies in WWII.
It’s long been known that German soldiers used a methamphetamine called Pervitin during WWII. But have tales of Nazis on speed obscured the massive use of stimulants by British and American troops? Did total war unleash the world’s first pharmacological arms race? And in the face of industrial slaughter, what role did drugs play in combat? Historian James Holland is on a quest to dig deeper and unearth the truth behind 'World War Speed'.
Available on iPlayer for the next month: BBC Four - World War Speed: The Drugs That Won WWII
There is a claim in the film that the British armoured division that spearheaded our assault at El Alamein were given large doses of Benzedrine (politely called "pep pills") to make them less tired, more focused, less scared and more aggressive and as a result suffered 80% casualties.
I was slightly dubious about this but did read about Italians sending hysterical messages to the Germans with one Italian telling them that it had been wiped out by "drunken negroes with tanks".
I missed this programme. Doubtless, it will resurrect. Pharmacological assistance was most certainly in use. Whereas your post focuses on the 'land' war, similar comments could be applied to the 'air' war. especially. Bomber crews undoubtedly made use of amphetamines and cocaine.
In December 1939, the Naval Intelligence Division tried out the so perceived 'truth drugs' on their own Intelligence officers.
The specialist elements subsequently made use of 'Op Saccharine' - research to procure drugs for special purposes. As such :
* A tablets - to aid travel sickness.
* B " - Benzedrine, to provide extra energy.
* Mecodrine - an amphetamine for energy in an emergency.
* E - Capsules, fast-acting anesthetic.
* K - Tablets, could knock out foreign agents if slipped into their drinks.
* L - Tablets , suicide pills.
ETA - I should have complimented the lovely Helen Fry and her book 'The London Cage' from where I used her research for the above. She looks after a museum and still believes I'm a nice guy.