Press "Enter" to skip to content

These Horrible Chemical Weapons Were Created & Used During the First World War

Hits: 298

Chemical weapons are an invention of the western war machine. Introduced into trench warfare by the French in 1915, over 190,000 tons of chemical weapons were produced during World War 1. There were an estimated 1.3 million casualties caused by chemicals during the war, with 90,000 fatalities.

Often referred to as the “Chemists War,” World War I saw the rise of chemical weapons being used on the battlefield. It all began with the French Army, who used tear gas in the form of small grenades.

These small grenades didn’t hold much gas, and were largely undetected by German forces. The French issued a redesign on the tear gas, and from here, weapon use expanded to other gases and agents such as mustard gas, phosgene, and chlorine.

Chemical weapons were dangerous, as they could be undetectable as well as deadly. Because of this, they were a popular choice on the battlefield. Whether used to cause nuisance or pain, chemical weapons played a large role in World War I.

Types of Gases Used

Asphyxiant gases, mainly mustard gas. Mustard gas is particularly dangerous as it can take several hours to appear. Soldiers who were burned by the gas would see large blisters form where the chemical had touched them. The blisters would fill up with blood and puss, and turn yellow. If a soldier’s body was over 50% burned, the chance for survival diminished rapidly. When inhaled, mustard gas caused internal burns and blisters and could lead to breathing issues.

Sternutator Gases such as phosgene, chlorine, and diphosgene. These gases caused pain in the chest as well as pain in the eyes and nose. They could also cause choking, nausea, vomiting, coughing and sneezing.

Lachrymator, or tear gas. Tear gas caused irritation to soldiers’ throats and eyes. The gas was more of a nuisance than anything and was virtually ineffective with a gas mask.

Development and Early Chemicals

The French were the first to employ chemical weapons, using tear gas in August of 1914. The gas was filled in 26mm grenades and contained a very low amount of tear gas, which made it unnoticeable to troops. Because of this, the active ingredient was changed from bromine to chloroacetone in the second wave of tear gas grenades that were issued to French troops. This made the gas a little stronger, but not by a substantial amount.

1915 would bring about a lot of changes to the chemical weapons being used in attacks. The Germans were the first to use gases on a large scale attack in January of 1915, when they dropped 18,000 chemical shells, loaded with xylyl bromide, on Russian lines near Rawka River west of Warsaw. This attack was a disappointment, however, as the chemical froze instead of vaporizing.

The Germans would find more success just a few months after the attack, using a different gas. German scientist Fritz Haber, who had overseen the production of chlorine as a chemical weapon, pushed for the chemical to be used in warfare.

Haber’s chlorine would be used for the first time on April 22nd, 1915. The gas was deployed from 5,730 cylinders which lined a road just north of Ypres in Belgium. At first, the deployment appeared to be unsuccessful, but as the winds shifted, the gas began to spread across the land. This lead to both Germans and Allied troops being affected by the poisonous gas. It was the first major use of poisonous gas and lead to the research of over 3,000 gases that could be used in war.

Haber’s success garnered him the name ‘Father of Chemical Warfare,’ as his use of Chlorine led to widespread advancements in chemical use. He also helped develop the gas mask, which helped aid in the amount of casualties caused by the very chemical weapons he had worked to create.

Chlorine saw even more use after the first Battle of Ypres, including in the Second Battle of Ypres, which occurred just two days after the first battle. It was then used a week later on May 2nd and again, against the British, on May 5th at Hill 60. The gas killed over 90 men at the Hill.

Following the use of gases in the Battle of Ypres and at Hill 60 against the British, they began to develop their own chemical weapons. Their first attempt with chemical weapons occurred at the Battle of Loos. It was a failure. Due to the winds, the gas never really moved past no man’s land, and some of it hung around British trenches.

To add insult to injury, the British gas masks were poorly designed. Some troops’ gas masks eye holes fogged over, causing them to remove their mask to see and so leaving them exposed.

In August of 1915, German Forces used the gas against Russian troops who were defending Fort Osowiec. The gas attack had such an effect on the Russians that the Russian Army began to research and development of chemical gas in shells.

Introduction of Phosgene

Chlorine had some drawbacks as a weapon. It was easy to detect, as once deployed the gas would produce a green cloudy smoke, which came with a strong oder. The gas was also water soluble; a damp cloth held over the face could reduce the effects the gas had on you.

So, in late 1915, the French-developed phosgene was put in to use. The gas attacked the lungs, and would cause initial symptoms of coughing, sneezing, vomiting and choking.

While phosgene could be used by itself, it was often mixed with chlorine. The gas was largely odorless and didn’t produce a cloud. This made it undetectable, and so far more dangerous. One of the issues those who used the gas faced, was that it could take up to a day for symptoms to show, meaning those who had been around the chemical could fight back. While Phosgene was the second most manufactured gas in World War I, it was the deadliest chemical weapon used. Phosgene accounted for 80-85% of all chemical weapon deaths in World War I.

Mustard Gas

Perhaps the most feared chemical weapon used in WWI was mustard gas. It was developed by the Germans and was introduced to war in July of 1917. Because mustard gas was used in shells, once deployed it could get into the soil and stay there for several weeks at a time. This meant anyone who came through the area could get the poison in their system.

Because of this, the gas was often used as a land pollutant. Mustard gas only accounts for 5% of chemical weapon deaths in WWI, but it’s widely reported on due to the nature of the burns that victims received.

Over 190,000 tons of chemical weapons were produced during World War 1. There were an estimated 1.3 million casualties caused by chemicals during the war, with 90,000 fatalities.


Originally published on 2016-11-18

Author: Lincoln Riddle

Source: War History Online

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen
Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, ...
READ MORE
NATO – 70th Anniversary of the Most Murderous – and Legal – Organization on our Planet
On 4th of April 2019 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) “celebrated” the 70th Anniversary of its murderous existence. This horror organization was born sort of as a “Rosemary’s Baby”, signed into life in Washington DC, as the North Atlantic Treaty. Its creation was absolutely unethical but also absolutely “legal” – meaning what we, the west, have made the law, a man-made law for war, was applied by the Washington-Pentagon driven NATO. Estimates have it, that NATO and its ‘allies’, cronies, proxies and mercenaries killed more than 20 million people since NATO’s existence, basically since the end of WWII. Compare this with ...
READ MORE
Muslim Albanian Women from Kosovo are Training ISIS Terrorists
Accoring to the “Zeri” news agency from the city of Priština, women who join the Islamic state are mostly 23 years of age, and before joining them they were “modern girls“. One of them is Laura Huseni who was, according to the editor-in-chief of the “Zeri” magazine, a typical teenage girl from Kosovo who used to go out and have fun with her mates. – She would take a cab and go with her friends for a drink. She used to dress like all her friends, she would wear skirts of jeans. She was very modern – said Faik Ukasmajli, whose son married ...
READ MORE
The “Forgotten” US Shootdown of Iranian Airliner Flight 655­
Today marks twenty-nine years since the shootdown by the USS Vincennes of Iran Air flight 655, which killed all of the plane’s 290 civilian passengers. This shootdown of a civilian airliner by a US naval ship occurred on July 3, 1988, toward the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War. This incident is, of course, something that the people of Iran well remember. Americans who rely on the US mainstream media, on the other hand, would have to be forgiven for never having heard about it. Furthermore, in the rare instances when the media do mention it, to this day they tend to ...
READ MORE
Provoking Moscow: NATO Needs Enemies to Justify Its Existence
NATO was always more about offense than defense, about America controlling the policies of Alliance members, increasing their numbers, pressuring them to stress militarism more than they’d chose otherwise – and selling them lots of US weapons. When founded in April 1949, Soviet Russia was a North Atlantic Alliance enemy in name only, ravaged by WW II – needing years after Stalin’s April 1953 death to regain pre-war normality, peace essential to restore it. Washington controls NATO, covering 75% of its budget, calling the shots, installing subservient Alliance officials to serve its agenda. At a time when no US enemies exist, they’re invented ...
READ MORE
“Yugoslavia” Again: Terrorist 007
The US media has done it again. In a breaking news story on Fox News on Friday, September 28, 2007, Fox reporter Catherine Herridge used the term “former Yugoslavia” twice in the Fox story “Terrorist 007”. The term Yugoslavia was used deliberately to conceal the fact that the Al Qaeda terrorist known as Terrorist 007, or Irhabi 007 in Arabic, Younes Tsouli, had ties to Bosnia and to Bosnian Muslims who planned terrorist attacks. Fox News sought to conceal this Al Qaeda connection to Bosnia by using the term “former Yugoslavia” in place of “Bosnia”. This was deliberate and planned. Someone ...
READ MORE
The Biggest Threat to US National Security is the US Government
A dictatorship does not represent the public but only the aristocracy that, behind the scenes, controls the government. Jonathan H. Adler, Professor at Case Western University School of Law, noted, regarding George W. Bush’s secret policy for the NSA to access everyone’s phone-records, that “The metadata collection program is constitutional (at least according to Judge Kavanaugh),” and he presented Judge Kavanaugh’s entire published opinion on that. Kavanaugh’s opinion stated that the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution could be shoved aside because he thinks that the ‘national security’ of the United States is more important than the Constitution. Kavanaugh wrote: The Government’s program for bulk collection ...
READ MORE
International Systems of States and Global Security Models
IntroductionThe fundamental aim of the text below is to deal with the concept and models of global security as one of the crucial topics of global political studies. We have to keep in mind that a term and notion of security usually imply a kind of sense of protection and safety from different possible harms coming from „outside“. Therefore, it can be generally acceptable and understandable that the states want to protect their own territories by expanding great resources in making their territorial safe. Security topics are of very different kind, ranging from the causes of conflict between states to ...
READ MORE
Why is Kosovo’s Rebellion Our War?
“What we are really talking about is a humanitarian disaster precipitated by the cold political calculus of an autocratic leader who has pursued a political strategy against his own citizens,” said U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, supreme allied commander in Europe.Gen. Clark’s target was Slobodan Milosevic. Yet his words might have been used by another American general named Robert E. Lee, about another “autocratic leader” named Abraham Lincoln.The day Clark made his statement bolstering the case for air strikes in Kosovo, the fall issue of Independent Review arrived. In a piece on Lincoln, “micromanager of the war effort,” scholar Thomas DiLorenzo ...
READ MORE
Armistice Day & Remembrance Day
The world has just honored yet another Armistice Day – Remembrance Day – Veterans Day for all those who lost their lives in armed defense of their nation’s right to exist and remain a free people. Nation’s like the United States, Canada and Israel pay constant tribute to those key battles and wars that once determined their continued existence and survival. But what of nation’s like Palestine reduced to mere fragments of what they once were, their once prosperous, happy villages, towns and cities filled with happy children, families and the commerce of a viable way of life, now turned ...
READ MORE
Warning! Neocons are Close to Starting a Nuclear War with Russia
We, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China. Many respected, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have been issuing warnings of a looming a Third World War. But their voices have been all but lost among the din of a mass media that is full of deceptive and inaccurate stories that characterize the Russian economy ...
READ MORE
Ethnic Intolerance Against Christians in Kosovostan
Recent episodes of ethnic intolerance against the Serbian minority exacerbate conditions in a country which is increasingly an “Islamic island” in the heart of Europe. Kosovo is once again the centre of attention in Orthodox Church circles. In addition to new instances of intolerance against the ethnic Serbian minority, recent actions taken by Russian Patriarch Kirill and Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), abbot of the Moscow monastery of Sretensky Stavropegic, have drawn attention. Violence against Orthodox Serbs is growing: unsurprisingly, some of them speak openly of cultural genocide. Approximately one hundred and fifteen churches were destroyed or severely damaged during the Albanian attacks, and ...
READ MORE
Korea: An Alternative History
For decades, consumers of the US media have been fed a series of repeated lies concerning the status of northern Korea. Tales of mass starvation and brutal torture are told over and over, occasionally updated but essentially the same as those told when Washington first realized it could not defeat the national forces headquartered in Pyongyang. Naturally, these stories become more frequent and considerably more dramatic during those times the US military heightens tensions in the region. While some of these “reports” are probably based in fact, the more revealing aspect of their being told is the lack of context involved in their ...
READ MORE
The Real Story of Zbigniew Brzezinski that the Media isn’t Telling
 Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, died Friday at a hospital in Virginia at the age of 89. Though the New York Times acknowledged that the former government advisor was a “hawkish strategic theorist,” misrepresenting his legacy as one of otherwise infinite positivity may not be as easy as the establishment might like to think.As the United Kingdom plays around with levels of the so-called “terror threat” following a devastating attack by an ISIS-inspired individual — and as the Philippines goes into an almost complete state of martial law following ISIS-inspired destruction — Brzezinski’s timely death ...
READ MORE
Voting Discrimination in America
The Supreme Court’s acceptance of a case about the allocation of voting districts will have consequences far beyond the millions of U.S. taxpayers its ruling may deprive of representation. A decision that only counts voters, rather than all persons, will undermine the very foundation of the Republic. The American Revolution was fought over “taxation without representation,” and those who wrote the Constitution carefully apportioned taxation and representation among the states “according to their respective Numbers . . . of free Persons . . . and . . . three-fifths of all other Persons.” The authors clearly equated We, the People with ...
READ MORE
Palestinians: 70 Years of Suffering
To date, 62 Palestinians have been shot dead in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army and over 5,500 wounded by gunfire.  Their crime: protesting the loss of their ancestral homes in the West Bank. Here was an example of Gandhi-style passive resistance that failed.  Israeli sniper teams just fired at will at the protesters, some of who were throwing rocks or firing sling shots.  High concentration tear gas was dumped by drones on the demonstrators.  Israel claimed it was killing ‘terrorists.’ The United States, Israel’s patron and financier, reveled in the move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a ...
READ MORE
The Balkans and American Gangsters
“The earthly Kingdom is for earthly people, but the heavenly Kingdom is forever” Serbian national epic about the Kosovo Battle against the Ottoman Turks in 1389[1]The American gangsters and the destruction of ex-YugoslaviaSouth-East Europe, and especially the Balkan Peninsula as the main part of it, have traditionally been the object of numerous geopolitical, geostrategic and publicist analyses, as well as the subject of debates among the Balkan, European and global experts in international relations. The new Iron Curtain between western and eastern Europe was not the end of the Balkan’s importance for the US administration and the NATO as well. At ...
READ MORE
Neo-Nazi Network in German Army Exposed
The arrest of a German army officer suspected of plotting the assassination of leftist politicians and high-ranking state officials has exposed the operations of neo-Nazi forces at the highest levels of the German military (Bundeswehr). The information that has emerged thus far indicates that the suspected officer-terrorist was part of a broader network of fascists within the Bundeswehr, and that his activities were known to his superiors and covered up by them. Most astonishing is the official reaction to these alarming revelations. They have prompted an outpouring of anger in the German media and from the establishment parties directed not at the ...
READ MORE
Spoiled Latvia’s Image in the International Arena: The Rights of the Ethnic Russian Minority
Latvia is actively preparing for one of the most important political events of the year. Parliamentary elections will take place on October 6, 2018. Submission of the lists of candidates for the 13th Saeima elections will take place very soon – from July 18 to August 7, 2018. But the elections campaign as well as all political life in the country face some problems which require additional attention from the authorities. And these problems spoil the image of Latvia as a democratic state which respects the rights of its people. This is a well-known fact, that the image of the state ...
READ MORE
The Dirty War on Syria
The following text is the introductory chapter of  Professor Tim Anderson’s forthcoming book entitled The Dirty War on Syria. Although every war makes ample use of lies and deception, the dirty war on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. The British-Australian journalist Philip Knightley pointed out that war propaganda typically involves ‘a depressingly predictable pattern’ of demonising the enemy leader, then demonising the enemy people through atrocity stories, real or imagined (Knightley 2001). Accordingly, a mild-mannered eye doctor called Bashar al Assad became the new evil in the world and, according to consistent ...
READ MORE
How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen
NATO – 70th Anniversary of the Most Murderous – and Legal – Organization on our Planet
Muslim Albanian Women from Kosovo are Training ISIS Terrorists
The “Forgotten” US Shootdown of Iranian Airliner Flight 655­
Provoking Moscow: NATO Needs Enemies to Justify Its Existence
“Yugoslavia” Again: Terrorist 007
The Biggest Threat to US National Security is the US Government
International Systems of States and Global Security Models
Why is Kosovo’s Rebellion Our War?
Armistice Day & Remembrance Day
Warning! Neocons are Close to Starting a Nuclear War with Russia
Ethnic Intolerance Against Christians in Kosovostan
Korea: An Alternative History
The Real Story of Zbigniew Brzezinski that the Media isn’t Telling
Voting Discrimination in America
Palestinians: 70 Years of Suffering
The Balkans and American Gangsters
Neo-Nazi Network in German Army Exposed
Spoiled Latvia’s Image in the International Arena: The Rights of the Ethnic Russian Minority
The Dirty War on Syria
Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.