Colonel George Gallie Nasmith: Mobile Water Filtration for the Allies

Colonel George Gallie Nasmith Jacket photograph from the book On the Fringe of the Great Fight, by G. G. Nasmith McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1917

George Gallie Nasmith was a Provincial Board of Health chemist and the Director of Laboratories at the Department of Health of the City of Toronto.

Nasmith tried to enlist for service during the First World War but was turned away because of his height: 4 ft. 6 in. He appealed and eventually received authority to organize a laboratory to test and purify drinking water for Canadians overseas. He was responsible for the water supply at Valcartier Camp, in Quebec, in 1914, and later served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps in England, as sanitary advisor in charge of water purification.

By March 1915, he was an officer commanding No. 5 (Canadian) Mobile Laboratory in Europe, where he introduced procedures to reduce illnesses caused by unsanitary conditions in the field. Colonel Nasmith developed a method to chlorinate the water used by the Allies at the front, and his models of mobile water filtration and sterilization units were adopted by the British Army.

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Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history and one of the world’s most respected museums for the study and understanding of armed conflict.

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