Hamish De Bretton-Gordon

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon

Chemical Warrior: Saving Lives on the Frontline of Modern Warfare

Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival Online 2020
Broadcast Date
Sunday 13 September

A former soldier and co-founder and director of Doctors Under Fire with former festival guest, David Nott, Hamish spent twenty-three years in the army. As Commanding Officer of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Regiment, he did all he could to help those suffering the impact of these sorts of weapons – from civilians in Syria to the citizens of Salisbury who were affected by the Novichok poisoning.

Chemical Warrior tells the story of how Hamish led  responses to the use of anthrax in Iraq, the threat of a major fertilizer bomb in Afghanistan and much else. But this is also a deeply personal memoir. While in the service of his country, Hamish discovered that he suffered from an acute heart condition known as Sudden Death Syndrome. Despite medical advice, he continued his fight against the impact of chemical weapons, flying to Aleppo to advise doctors on their effects and how to cope with treating those in pain.

This memoir does not only deal with war, adversity and terrorism, it is also leavened with humour. One of Hamish’s proudest moments came in 1991 when he briefly held the world record for the number of press-ups he could manage.

Hamish talks to Vanessa Collingridge.

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