WORLD'S 1ST WMD IN 1915
The first instance of large-scale use of gas as a weapon was on 31 January 1915, when Germany fired 18,000 artillery shells containing liquid xylyl bromide tear gas on Russian positions on the Rawka River, west of Warsaw during the Battle of Bolimov. However, instead of vaporizing, the chemical froze and failed to have the desired effect. https://www.google.ca/search?q=World+War+one+1915+gas+attack+photo&sa=X&biw=1024&bih=662&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=oIi5VJDjEIjdoASI5IHwAw&ved=0CBwQsAQ
The first killing agent employed by the German military was chlorine. Chlorine is a powerful irritant that can inflict damage to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. At high concentrations and prolonged exposure it can cause death by asphyxiation. German chemical companies BASF, HOECHST and BAYER (which formed the IG FARBEN conglomerate in 1925) had been producing chlorine as a by-product of their dye manufacturing. In cooperation with Fritz Haber of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin, they began developing methods of discharging chlorine gas against enemy trenches.
According to the field post letter of Major Karl von Zingler, the first chlorine gas attack by German forces took place before 2 January 1915: "In other war theaters it does not go better and it has been said that our Chlorine is very effective. 140 English officers have been killed. This is a horrible weapon”.
By 22 April 1915, the German Army had 168 tons of chlorine deployed in 5,730 cylinders opposite Langemark-Poelkapelle, north of Ypres. At 17:30, in a slight easterly breeze, the gas was released, forming a gray-green cloud that drifted across positions held by French Colonial troops from Martinique who broke ranks, abandoning their trenches and creating an 8,000-yard (7 km) gap in the Allied line. However, the German infantry were also wary of the gas and, lacking reinforcements, failed to exploit the break before the 1st Canadian Division and assorted French troops reformed the line in scattered, hastily prepared positions 1,000 to 3,000 yards apart. The Ally governments quickly claimed the attack was a flagrant violation of international law, but Germany argued that the Hague treaty had only banned chemical shells, rather than the use of gas projectors.
In what became the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans used gas on three more occasions; on 24 April against the 1st Canadian Division, on 2 May near Mouse Trap Farm and on 5 May against the British at Hill 60. The British Official History stated that at Hill 60, "90 men died from gas poisoning in the trenches or before they could be got to a dressing station; of the 207 brought to the nearest dressing stations, 46 died almost immediately and 12 after long suffering."
On August 6, German troops used chlorine gas against Russian troops defending the Fortress of Osowiec. Surviving defenders drove back the attack and successfully retained the fortress.
Germany used chemical weapons on the eastern front in an attack at Rawka, south of Warsaw. The Russian army took 9,000 casualties, with more than 1,000 fatalities. In response, the artillery branch of the Russian army organized a commission to study the delivery of poison gas in shells.
Effectiveness and counter-measures:
It quickly became evident that the men who stayed in their places suffered less than those who ran away, as any movement worsened the effects of the gas, and that those who stood up on the fire step suffered less indeed they often escaped any serious effects than those who lay down or sat at the bottom of a trench. Men who stood on the parapet suffered least, as the gas was denser near the ground. The worst sufferers were the wounded lying on the ground, or on stretchers, and the men who moved back with the cloud. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n19VXXTI1OQ
British emplacement after German gas attack (probably phosgene):
Chlorine was, however, less effective as a weapon than the Germans had hoped, particularly as soon as simple counter-measures were introduced. The gas produced a visible greenish cloud and strong odour, making it easy to detect. It was water-soluble, so the simple expedient of covering the mouth and nose with a damp cloth was somewhat effective at reducing the effect of the gas. It was thought to be even more effective to use urine rather than water, as it was known at the time that chlorine reacted readily with urea (present in urine) to form dichloride urea.
Chlorine required a concentration of 1,000 parts per million to be fatal, destroying tissue in the lungs, likely through the formation of hydrochloric acid when dissolved in the water in the lungs (2Cl2 + 2H2O → 4HCl + O2). Despite its limitations, however, chlorine was an effective psychological weapon the sight of an oncoming cloud of the gas was a continual source of dread for the infantry.
Counter-measures were quickly introduced in response to the use of chlorine. The Germans issued their troops with small gauze pads filled with cotton waste, and bottles of a bicarbonate solution with which to dampen the pads. Immediately following the use of chlorine gas by the Germans, instructions were sent to British and French troops to hold wet handkerchiefs or cloths over their mouths. Simple pad respirators similar to those issued to German troops were soon proposed by Lieutenant-Colonel N.C. Ferguson, the A.D.M.S. of the 28th Division. These pads were intended to be used damp, preferably dipped into a solution of bicarbonate kept in buckets for that purpose, though other liquids were also used. Because such pads could not be expected to arrive at the front for several days, army divisions set about making them for themselves. The locally available muslin, flannel and gauze were used, and officers sent to Paris to buy additional quantities, and local French women were employed making up rudimentary pads with string ties. Other units used lint bandages manufactured in the convent at Poperinge. Pad respirators were sent up with rations to British troops in the line as early as the evening of 24 April 1915.
GERMAN WW1 FOOTAGE PART 1
GERMAN WW1 FOOTAGE PART 2
GERMAN WW1 FOOTAGE PART 3
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