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156323.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:56 pm Reply with quote

This from the D Series forum - unused:

Conkers were used to make acetone, for use in cordite production for shells.

Extra notes: During WW1, 248 millions shells were fired by the British. The propellant was cordite, and the solvent used in making cordite was acetone. Acetone, in turn, was made mainly from distilled wood. As timber became short in wartime, it was discovered that potatoes and maize could be used to produce acetone. But by 1917, the submarine war had led to a shortage of maize, as well.

Searching for an alternative to the alternative to unobtainable timber, scientists found that horse chestnuts would do. The Ministry of Munitions therefore began a campaign to collect that autumn’s conker harvest. Schoolchildren were given days off from school to gather the conkers which, the government helpfully explained, were to be used “for the production of an article of great importance in the prosecution of the War” and for “certain purposes.” The secrecy was necessary, since the Germans could have used the same technique if they’d known about it. (Children also collected acorns, on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, for pig fodder.)

Horse chestnuts in great numbers were gathered, but the scheme was not successful. Letters to The Times complained of piles of rotting conkers being left at railway stations; very few actually reached the munitions factory, and the conkers turned out to be pretty poor stuff for the purpose, anyway.

(All above from the Imperial War Museum, at

160289.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:29 am Reply with quote

Bohumil Sol, the former Czechoslovakia's leading explosives expert and the inventor of Semtex (a powerful explosive used by terrorists, including the IRA), also known as "the father of Semtex", blew himself up in a psychiatric sanatorium near Prague in June 1997. Th reason was that the hospital personnel tried to stop him firing off rockets that scared his fellow patients and aggravated their condition. He was 63.

Own research

160295.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:40 am Reply with quote

Uh oh. Fox Shooting alert

160297.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:42 am Reply with quote

From the official website of Explosia, the company who created semtex:


By no means we can contest his [Bohumil Šole's] enormous experience in the field of explosives. He, however, was not a member of the team that developed SEMTEX®.


160390.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:27 am Reply with quote

On May 25, 1997 Bohumil Sole, a scientist involved with inventing Semtex, strapped the explosive to his body and committed suicide in the Priessnitz spa of Jeseník. Sole, 63, was treated there for depression. Twenty other people were hurt in the explosion, while six were seriously injured.

No source, of course, but the wording is practically identical to this Guardian article.

I wonder which version is true. Maybe they 'disowned' him...

160398.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:38 am Reply with quote

Look at that article again now, though.

160405.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:51 am Reply with quote

Well would you believe it - some swine's gorn and edited it...


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