J.D. -The Forgotten WWII Hero.

2019-11-05

This most be one of the most intriguing WWII stories,not is it only one of those rare positive WWII stories it also ties in to WWI and the effects of it still apply today.

We have no name for this hero, all we know him as is J.D. .  We know of J.D is that he was a Polish immigrant who worked as a steel worker in the US. We also know he had Lymphoma which is a  blood cancer that develop from lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). He was terminally ill and did  not have long to live. He was incased in tumors.

J.D was the first patient to be treated with a Chemotherapy.

Milton Winternitz at Yale, who had worked on sulfur mustards in WWI, managed to get a contract to study the chemistry of the mustard compounds from the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development. He approached two pharmacologists from the Yale School of Medicine, Louis S. Goodman and Alfred Gilman,  to investigate potential therapeutic applications of chemical warfare agents.

Goodman and Gilman’s initial plan was to create anti dotes to mustard gas.They were afraid of a repeat of WWI. They discovered that soldiers who had been exposed to Mustard gas in WWI had a surprisingly low whit blood cell count.

They then  reasoned that this agent could be used to treat lymphoma.Initially they  set up an animal model by creating  lymphomas in mice and showed they could treat them with mustard agents. Next, in co-operation with a thoracic surgeon, Gustaf Lindskog, they injected a related agent, mustine (the prototype nitrogen mustard anticancer chemotherapeutic), into the  patient only known as J.D.  He had volunteered for the test he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He got his first injection on August 27 at 10.00 AM  They noticed  a dramatic reduction in the patient’s tumor masses.Although the effect lasted only a few weeks, and the patient had to return for another set of treatment, it would the first step to the realization that cancer could be treated by pharmacological agents.

Although J.D’s life was only prolonged for a few months it had given him at least a few reasonably good months.

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Although  the study was concluded in 1943 , due to  the secrecy associated with the war gas program, the results were not published until 1946.the publication of the first clinical trials was reported on October 6 1946 in the New York Times.

All the chemo therapies that followed work bascially on the same mechanism.

If it had not been for J.D. the treatment for cancer may have been completely different today. Therfore I believe he really was a WWII Hero.

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Sources

BBC

https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/21/8643

New York Times

 

 

 

The SS John Harvey disaster

harvey

SS John Harvey was a U.S. World War II Liberty ship. This ship is most well known for carrying a secret cargo of mustard gas and whose sinking by German aircraft in December 1943 at the port of Bari in south Italy caused an unintentional release of chemical weapons.

The John Harvey was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, North Carolina, and launched on 9 January 1943.

In August 1943, Roosevelt approved the shipment of chemical munitions containing mustard agent to the Mediterranean theater. On 18 November 1943 the John Harvey, commanded by Captain Elwin F. Knowles, sailed from Oran, Algeria, to Italy, carrying 2,000 M47A1 mustard gas bombs, each of which held 60–70 lb of sulfur mustard.

m47-1

After stopping for an inspection by an officer of the 7th Chemical Ordnance Company at Augusta, Sicily on 26 November, the John Harvey sailed through the Strait of Otranto to arrive at Bari.

800px-gulf_of_taranto_map

Bari was packed with ships waiting to be unloaded, and the John Harvey had to wait for several days. Captain Knowles wanted to tell the British port commander about his deadly cargo and request it be unloaded as soon as possible, but secrecy prevented him doing so.

On 2 December 1943 German aircraft attacked Bari, killing over 1,000 people, and sinking 17 ships,including the John Harvey, which was destroyed in a huge explosion, causing liquid sulfur mustard to spill into the water and a cloud of sulfur mustard vapor to blow over the city.

A total of 628 military victims were hospitalized with mustard gas symptoms, and by the end of the month, 83 of them had died. The number of civilian casualties, thought to have been even greater, could not be accurately gauged since most had left the city to seek shelter with relatives.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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