William Howard Livens
Overview
 
William Howard Livens DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 MC
Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

 (28 March 1889 – 1 February 1964) was an engineer, a soldier in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and an inventor particularly known for the design of chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 and flame warfare weapons. Resourceful and clever, Livens’ successful creations were characterised by being very practical and easy to produce in large numbers. In an obituary, Sir Harold Hartley
Harold Hartley
Sir Harold Brewer Hartley GCVO CH FRS was a British physical chemist. He moved from academia to important positions in business and industry.He was educated at Dulwich College, and Balliol College, Oxford...

 said "Livens combined great energy and enterprise with a flair for seeing simple solutions and inventive genius."

Livens is best known for inventing the Livens Projector
Livens Projector
The Livens Projector was a simple mortar-like weapon that could throw large drums filled with flammable or toxic chemicals. In the First World War, the Livens Projector became the standard means of delivering gas attacks and it remained in the arsenal of the British Army until the early years of...

 a simple mortar-like weapon that could throw large drums filled with inflammable or toxic chemicals.
Quotations

"When Coercion enters, Charity Leaves."

"Guns are dangerous. The only thing more dangerous is not having them"

Encyclopedia
William Howard Livens DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 MC
Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

 (28 March 1889 – 1 February 1964) was an engineer, a soldier in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and an inventor particularly known for the design of chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 and flame warfare weapons. Resourceful and clever, Livens’ successful creations were characterised by being very practical and easy to produce in large numbers. In an obituary, Sir Harold Hartley
Harold Hartley
Sir Harold Brewer Hartley GCVO CH FRS was a British physical chemist. He moved from academia to important positions in business and industry.He was educated at Dulwich College, and Balliol College, Oxford...

 said "Livens combined great energy and enterprise with a flair for seeing simple solutions and inventive genius."

Livens is best known for inventing the Livens Projector
Livens Projector
The Livens Projector was a simple mortar-like weapon that could throw large drums filled with flammable or toxic chemicals. In the First World War, the Livens Projector became the standard means of delivering gas attacks and it remained in the arsenal of the British Army until the early years of...

 a simple mortar-like weapon that could throw large drums filled with inflammable or toxic chemicals. In World War I, the Livens Projector became the standard means of delivering gas attacks and it remained in the arsenal of the British army until the early years of the Second World War.

Early life

Livens' parents were Frederick Howard Livens (1854–1948) and Priscilla Abbott. They married on 9 October 1886 at the Upton Congregational Church. Frederick Howard Livens was Chief Engineer and later Chairman of Ruston and Hornsby
Ruston (engine builder)
Ruston & Hornsby, later known as Ruston, was an industrial equipment manufacturer in Lincoln, England, the company's history going back to 1840. The company is best known as a manufacturer of narrow and standard gauge diesel locomotives and also of steam shovels. Other products included cars, steam...

 in Lincoln
Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Lincoln is a cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire, England.The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln has a population of 85,595; the 2001 census gave the entire area of Lincoln a population of 120,779....

. Frederick and Priscilla had three children, William Howard and two younger daughters.

In 1903, Livens was sent to Oundle School
Oundle School
Oundle School is a co-educational British public school located in the ancient market town of Oundle in Northamptonshire. The school has been maintained by the Worshipful Company of Grocers of the City of London since its foundation in 1556. Oundle has eight boys' houses, five girls' houses, a day...

, a famous public school
Independent school (UK)
An independent school is a school that is not financed through the taxation system by local or national government and is instead funded by private sources, predominantly in the form of tuition charges, gifts and long-term charitable endowments, and so is not subject to the conditions imposed by...

 located in the ancient market town of Oundle
Oundle
Oundle is an ancient market town on the River Nene in Northamptonshire, England, with a population of 5,345 or 5,674 . It lies some north of London and south-west of Peterborough...

 in Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is a landlocked county in the English East Midlands, with a population of 629,676 as at the 2001 census. It has boundaries with the ceremonial counties of Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east,...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. While there, he enrolled in the Officer Training Corps (OTC) wherein he served with the rank of sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

.

On leaving school in 1908, Livens went to Christ's College
Christ's College, Cambridge
Christ's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.With a reputation for high academic standards, Christ's College averaged top place in the Tompkins Table from 1980-2000 . In 2011, Christ's was placed sixth.-College history:...

 at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 from 1908 to October 1911. There he enrolled in the college OTC and served with the rank of private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

 and he was captain of the Cambridge rifle team. He was a crack shot
Marksman
A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision, or a sharpshooter shooting, using projectile weapons, such as with a rifle but most commonly with a sniper rifle, to shoot at long range targets...

 with a rifle, making a record score in a competition with a team from Oxford University and also an excellent shot with a pistol.

Livens trained as civil engineer, and was for a while an assistant editor for Country Life
Country Life (magazine)
Country Life is a British weekly magazine, based in London at 110 Southwark Street, and owned by IPC Media, a Time Warner subsidiary.- Topics :The magazine covers the pleasures and joys of rural life, as well as the concerns of rural people...

 magazine. But, when the First World War started, he joined the British Army.

World War One

On 4 August 1914, on graduating from the Officer Training Corps, Livens applied for a commission in the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

. He was enrolled as a Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 on 30 September 1914 and he was given a clerical post in the Motorcycle signalling section at Chatham
Chatham Dockyard
Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent, England, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional...

. Livens experience of the OTC and his enthusiasm for target shooting prepared him well for at least some aspects of Army life:
Army life did not suppress Livens' creativity and he turned his mind to the problem of making better weapons. On his own initiative, he fitted out makeshift laboratories at his Chatham barracks bedroom and in the officers' garage. For a firing range he used vacant land near one of the old forts which overlooked the Thames estuary. Here he worked on developing flame throwers and small mortars to throw oil and gas.

Livens' inventive work was prompted by thoughts of revenge for perceived German atrocities. According to Simon Jones
Simon Jones
Simon Jones may refer to:*Simon Jones *Simon Jones , Welsh cricketer who plays for England*Simon Jones , British musician, member of The Verve...

' book World War I Gas Warfare Tactics and Equipment, on learning of the sinking of the luxury liner RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New...

in May 1915 with loss of 1,100 lives including, apparently, his wife, he vowed to kill an equal number of Germans. It was to this end he began experimenting with gas and flame projectors of various types and continued in his work even after hearing that his wife had not, after all, been on board the Lusitania. This account cannot be literally true because Livens did not get married until 1916. Charles Foulkes who became Livens' commanding officer and who later wrote Gas! The Story of the Special Brigade mentions "a strong personal feeling" connected with the sinking of the Lusitania without being more specific. According to Who's Who in World War One by John Bourne
John Bourne
John Bourne is a British artist and painter, living and working in Wales, and a member of the Stuckists art movement. He founded the Wrexham Stuckists group in 2001 and has been exhibited in the group's shows since then, including The Stuckists Punk Victorian. He has also taken part in Stuckist...

, it was the first use of poison gas
Poison gas in World War I
The use of chemical weapons in World War I ranged from disabling chemicals, such as tear gas and the severe mustard gas, to lethal agents like phosgene and chlorine. This chemical warfare was a major component of the first global war and first total war of the 20th century. The killing capacity of...

 by the Germans at the Second Battle of Ypres
Second Battle of Ypres
The Second Battle of Ypres was the first time Germany used poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front in the First World War and the first time a former colonial force pushed back a major European power on European soil, which occurred in the battle of St...

 on 22 April 1915 that prompted Livens' vengeful ambitions. This alternative account is consistent with Livens' later statement that he began his experimental work at the end of April 1915.

Late in August 1915, Livens left Chatham to join one of the newly formed Royal Engineer Special Gas Companies where he was one of very few officers to have a background in engineering rather than chemistry. At the time, gas warfare was very primitive: heavy cylinders
Gas cylinder
A gas cylinder is a pressure vessel used to store gases at above atmospheric pressure. High pressure gas cylinders are also called bottles. Although they are sometimes colloquially called "tanks", this is technically incorrect, as a tank is a vessel used to store liquids at ambient pressure and...

 of poison gas were manhandled to the front trenches and their contents simply vented out through metal pipes relying on a breeze to carry the toxic cloud over the enemy trenches. But the wind could be fickle and a change in its direction: the first British gas attack at Loos
Battle of Loos
The Battle of Loos was one of the major British offensives mounted on the Western Front in 1915 during World War I. It marked the first time the British used poison gas during the war, and is also famous for the fact that it witnessed the first large-scale use of 'new' or Kitchener's Army...

 was a disaster. Livens developed the use of long rubber hoses to carry the gas to an optimum location for release and of a manifold
Manifold (general engineering)
A manifold, in systems for moving fluids or gases is a junction of pipes or channels, typically bringing one into many or many into one.-Applications:*Heated-manifold direct-injection die casting for zinc die casting....

 that reduced the number of parapet pipes by connecting four cylinders to a single pipe, these improvements helped make the system more reliable. Major-General Foulkes described him as a "go getter", but also as unfamiliar with military protocol. Foulkes later recalled Livens' part in the preparation of a gas attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt
Hohenzollern Redoubt
The Hohenzollern Redoubt, near to Auchy-les-Mines in France, was a German fortification on the Western Front in World War I.-Introduction:The British first attacked the Redoubt on September 25, 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos...

:
Livens was soon put in charge of Z company, a special unit that was given the responsibility of developing a British version of the German flamethrower that had recently been deployed on the Western Front. Four of Livens' massive fixed flame projector - the "Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector
Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector
Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors were large experimental flamethrowers used by the British Army in World War I.They were named after their inventor, a Royal Engineers officer William Howard Livens. Four were deployed in 1916 the Battle of the Somme and one in 1917 in an offensive near...

" - were to be used on 1 July 1916 at the start of the Battle of the Somme. Constructed in underground chambers two were knocked out by German artillery before the offensive. The other two were effective in demoralising the German defenders. Impressive as it was, the limited range and the immobility of the weapon severely limited its usefulness and the project was abandoned. The remains of one of these projectors have been discovered and excavated in 2010.
One day, during an attack on the Somme, Z company encountered a party of Germans who were well dug in. Grenades did not succeed in shifting them, so Livens threw in two five gallon oil drums; the burning oil was so effective that Livens' comrade, Harry Strange, wondered whether it would be better to use containers to carry the flame to the enemy rather than relying on a complex flame thrower. Reflecting on the incident, Livens and Strange considered how a really large shell filled with fuel might be thrown. Although the key idea of throwing a large container of oil was due to Strange, it was Livens who went on to develop a large, but simple, mortar that could throw a three gallon drum of oil which would burst when it landed...
Livens' new weapon was used for the first time on the morning of 23 July 1916: twenty oil projectors were fired just before an attack in the battle of the Somme at Pozières
Battle of Pozières
The Battle of Pozières was a two week struggle for the French village of Pozières and the ridge on which it stands, during the middle stages of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Though British divisions were involved in most phases of the fighting, Pozières is primarily remembered as an Australian battle...

 – the effect was limited. Next, thirty projectors were fired at the eastern corner of High Wood
High Wood
High Wood is a small forest near Bazentin le Petit in the Somme département of northern France which was the scene of intense fighting for two months from 14 July to 15 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.-Background:...

 on the 18 August with more encouraging results and another attack on 3 September was highly successful.

Following these attacks, Livens came to the attention of General Gough
Hubert Gough
General Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough GCB, GCMG, KCVO was a senior officer in the British Army, who commanded the British Fifth Army from 1916 to 1918 during the First World War.-Family background:...

 who was impressed by his ideas and "wangled" everything that he needed. The new weapon was developed into the Livens Projector
Livens Projector
The Livens Projector was a simple mortar-like weapon that could throw large drums filled with flammable or toxic chemicals. In the First World War, the Livens Projector became the standard means of delivering gas attacks and it remained in the arsenal of the British Army until the early years of...

 which consisted of a simple tube closed by a hemisphere at one end. It was half buried in the ground at an angle of 45 degrees and pointing in the required direction. It was then loaded with a single shot with an amount of propellant calculated to effect the desired range. Preparing a battery of projectors for an attack required a lot of preparation, this was not a serious problem in the conditions of static trench warfare and the weapon was so simple and inexpensive that hundreds – and on occasions thousands – of projectors could be fired simultaneously catching the enemy by surprise. Z Company rapidly developed the Livens Projector, increasing its range from the original 200 yards (182.9 m), first to 350 yards (320 m) and they eventually produced an electrically triggered version with a range of 1300 yards (1,188.7 m).

The Livens Projector was modified to fire canisters of poison gas rather than oil. This system was tried in secret, at Thiepval
Thiepval
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a major war memorial to 72,191 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918 who have no known grave...

 in September 1916 and Beaumont-Hamel
Beaumont-Hamel
Beaumont-Hamel is a commune in the Somme department in Picardy in northern France.During the First World War, Beaumont-Hamel was very close to the front lines and saw heavy combat, especially during the Battle of the Somme which was the largest Allied offensive of the entire war. By 1918 the...

 in November. The Livens Projector was able to deliver a high concentration of gas a considerable distance and each canister delivered as much gas as several chemical warfare artillery shells.

The Livens Projector was used in a series of gas attacks during October 1916 and a number of officers took a close interest in the results. Livens had witnessed some projector firings from the vantage of an aircraft and in his report he estimated that "...if the projectors were used on a large scale the cost of killing Germans could be reduced to sixteen shillings each." This report was sent to the Ministry of Munitions and Livens was returned to England soon afterwards to help develop a standard projector and drum. The Livens Projector became a preferred means by which the British Army delivered a chemical attack and its production was given a high priority, the total for the Allies of the Great War eventually exceeded 150,000 units. Livens, "who was always full of ideas" gave up the command of Z company and became a liaison officer between Foulkes' Special Brigade and the Ministry of Munitions in which role he remained for the last two years of the war.

Livens continued to improve his projector and to design other weapons for trench warfare, some of which were useful, others not. For example, he experimented with attempts to cut barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

 using large quantities of explosives. A witness to one trial described orange box
Wooden box
A wooden box is a container made of wood for storage or as a shipping container.Construction may include several types of wood; lumber , plywood, engineered woods, etc...

es filled with explosives and fired from a hole in the ground in the manner of a shell fougasse
Fougasse (weapon)
A fougasse is an improvised mine constructed by making a hollow in the ground or rock and filling it with explosives and projectiles. Fougasse was well known to military engineers by the mid-eighteenth century but was also referred to by Vauban in the seventeenth century and was used by Zimmerman...

. This system failed because the explosives tended to detonate ineffectually in mid-air – a sight that was described as being: "A most impressive picture of the Day of Judgement". A variation of the Livens Projector prototype was also tested with a view to cutting wire; Major-General Foulkes later recalled:
Livens' wire-cutting ideas, were characteristically simple but ultimately unsuccessful; but he was never put off if a weapon failed to come up to expectation.

Livens' work was dangerous and he showed no lack of physical courage. On one occasion, while testing a service gas mask against Hydrogen sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is a colorless, very poisonous, flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of expired eggs perceptible at concentrations as low as 0.00047 parts per million...

 (H
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

2S
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

); the gas penetrated almost immediately and Livens fell unconscious though he recovered quickly. During the war, Livens was awarded the Military Cross on 14 January 1916 and the Distinguished Service Order on 1 January 1918. There are no published citations for his decorations, this may be due to the sensitive nature of his work.

Livens was demobilised from the army on 11 April 1919.

Personal life

At some time during 1916 Livens married Elizabeth Price. They had three daughters.

Between the wars

After the First World War, Livens, being of independent means, no longer had any incentive to produce new inventions and his life was relatively uneventful. Just before the end of the First World War, Livens wrote a patent for an improved version of his projector and in mid-June 1919, Livens and his father jointly wrote a patent for an improved projectile – the principal enhancement being the construction of strong but light-weight casing by using drawn manufacturing technique.

In 1920, Livens applied to the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors
Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors
A Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors is a periodic Royal Commission of the United Kingdom used to hear patent disputes.On October 6, 1919 a Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors was convened to hear 11 claims for the invention of the tank....

 in respect of his wartime work on flamethrowers and the Livens Projector. He had to wait for a hearing, which was complicated by the fact that his old comrade Harry Strange also made a claim in connection with the invention. The hearing was delayed until 27 May 1922 by which time Livens had agreed that Strange should have a share of the "plunder" from any award that might be obtained. The hearing was detailed and a number of witnesses were called including the recently retired General Gough and Charles Howard Foulkes who was then a colonel. Livens was awarded £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

500 for his work on flamethrowers and £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

4,500 for the Livens projector and its ammunition. (A considerable sum: £5,000 in 1922 is equivalent to £ in .)

In 1924, Livens invented a small dishwasher
Dishwasher
A dishwasher is a mechanical device for cleaning dishes and eating utensils. Dishwashers can be found in restaurants and private homes.Unlike manual dishwashing, which relies largely on physical scrubbing to remove soiling, the mechanical dishwasher cleans by spraying hot water, typically between ...

 suitable for use in a domestic setting. It had all the features of a modern dishwasher, including a front door for loading, a wire rack to hold crockery and a rotating sprayer. According to family tradition, Livens built a prototype for the benefit of the family; but when it was tried out by their maidservant, she was later found in tears with water flooding across the floor. At that point the experiment was abandoned.

Livens became interest in Spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

. He attended a number of séance
Séance
A séance is an attempt to communicate with spirits. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "seat," "session" or "sitting," from the Old French "seoir," "to sit." In French, the word's meaning is quite general: one may, for example, speak of "une séance de cinéma"...

s, including on 15 November 1932 witnessing a séance with the famous medium Rudi Schneider
Rudi Schneider
Rudi Schneider , son of Josef Schneider and brother of Willi Schneider, was an Austrian spiritualist and physical medium. His career was covered extensively by the journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, and he took part in a number of notable experiments conducted by paranormal...

, although in this case it was a null result — nothing happened. Livens was an honorary vice-president of the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain
Spiritualist Association of Great Britain
The Spiritualist Association of Great Britain was established in 1872. From 1872 to 1955 the Association was located in rented or leased buildings at various spots in London...

 and later he was a great friend of Lord Dowding
Hugh Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding
Air Chief Marshal Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding GCB, GCVO, CMG was a British officer in the Royal Air Force...

 who had similar interests.

World War Two

At the outbreak of war, Livens was offered the RAF rank of Air Commodore
Air Commodore
Air commodore is an air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

. However, he did not enlist, preferring to make his contribution to the war effort as a civilian - in which role he was free to disagree with his seniors.

In 1940, as a German invasion of Britain threatened
British anti-invasion preparations of World War II
British anti-invasion preparations of the Second World War entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilisation in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. The British army needed to recover from the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in...

, the British developed a number of innovative flame warfare weapons. Livens joined the team of developers working at the newly formed Petroleum Warfare Department under the directorship of Sir Donald Banks
Donald Banks
Major-General Sir Thomas MacDonald "Donald" Banks KCB DSO MC TD was distinguished soldier, senior civil servant and a founder member and first Chairman of the Guernsey Society.-Family:...

. Banks described Livens thus:
The Petroleum Warfare Department experimented with several proposed systems, including a number suggested by Livens. These included a system resembling his projector to send "flaming comets" onto the landing beaches, but the suggestion with the most promise was the flame fougasse
Flame fougasse
A flame fougasse is a weapon. It is a type of mine which uses an explosive charge to project burning liquid onto a target. The flame fougasse was developed by the Petroleum Warfare Department in Britain as an anti-tank weapon during the invasion crisis of 1940...

 and it was widely adopted.

A flame fougasse comprised a 40 gallon light steel drum filled with petroleum mixture and a small, electrically detonated explosive as a propellant charge. The barrel was dug into the roadside with a substantial overburden and camouflaged. When the Ammonal
Ammonal
Ammonal is an explosive made up of ammonium nitrate, trinitrotoluene , and aluminium powder.The ammonium nitrate functions as an oxidizer and aluminium as a power enhancer. To some extent the aluminium makes it more sensitive to detonation...

-based propellant charge was detonated, it caused the barrel to rupture and shoot a flame 10 feet (3 m) wide and 30 yards (27.4 m) long.

Tens of thousands of flame fougasse barrels were deployed. Almost all were removed before the end of the war, although, incredibly, a few were missed and their remains have lasted to the present day.

The flame fougasse has remained in army field manuals as a battlefield expedient ever since.

Livens' wife, Elizabeth, died on 18 July 1945 after a long illness.

After World War Two

On 22 July 1947, Livens married Arron Perry at St Paul's Church, Winchmore Hill.

Livens was briefly interested in photography. In the 1950s, Livens patented inventions relating to photography.

Livens enjoyed sailing small boats and was a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club
Royal Thames Yacht Club
The Royal Thames Yacht Club is the oldest sailing club in the United Kingdom. Its headquarters are located at 60 Knightsbridge, London, England, overlooking Hyde Park....

.

Livens died at a London hospital on 1 February 1964. His remains were cremated at Golders Green
Golders Green
Golders Green is an area in the London Borough of Barnet in London, England. Although having some earlier history, it is essentially a 19th century suburban development situated about 5.3 miles north west of Charing Cross and centred on the crossroads of Golders Green Road and Finchley Road.In the...

 on Saturday 8 February with the request that donations to Cancer Research
Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Its aim is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer. As the world's largest independent cancer...

 should be made in place of flowers. He was survived by his three daughters and left an estate with a value estimated at 82,561 (about £ in ).

External links

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