In 1939, when World War II broke out, I held the Royal Society's Sorby Research Fellowship and was working on problems of insect physiology at Sheffield University. As my name was on the Central Register of Reserved Occupations, I was debarred from military service so as to be available for scientific work of national importance. Unfortunately, the authorities had no suggestions for any such work. I felt I should temporarily abandon insect physiology and devote my talents to some problem more closely connected with the war effort. The obvious field for such work seemed to be human parasitology, for in previous work at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine I had made ecological and physiological studies of lice, fleas, bedbugs and other insects of medical importance.

From the various public health and military authorities I approached I received little encouragement and no practical suggestions as to problems they...

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