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.
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.
[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]
Future war “may see attacks via computer viruses, worms, logic bombs, and trojan horses rather than bullets, bombs, and missiles” [Steven Metz, Armed Conflict in the 21st Century: The Information Revolution and Post-Modern Warfare, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2000, xiii].First partThe facilities of the Internet in politicsThe Internet or the WWW (World Wide Web) became massively widespread around the globe since the late 1980s or more precisely since 1989 – in the same year when the Berlin Wall collapsed and, therefore, enabled the Cold War 1.0 to enter the final stage of its end. That is why both of these ...
Members of a notorious Albanian-run cocaine smuggling gang in London have outraged the UK mass media by flaunting their illegally obtained wealth on Instagram.
The Daily Mail on Monday accused the Hellbanianz group of “brazenly flaunting their gangster lifestyle” by posting pictures of themselves draped over luxury cars, smoking drugs, sporting Gucci outfits and fielding a kind of cake made up of rolled-up 50 pound notes.
A similar note of outrage was struck by the Sun and the Daily Mirror.
One picture shows a gang member holding a golden “game-of-thrones” style knuckleduster, encrusted with gems and formed in the shape of the letters ...
Saudi Arabia believes that the talks in the Kazakh capital Astana could lead to a stable ceasefire, according to the statement made by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. He expressed hope for reaching a ceasefire saying that the Astana talks are worth testing. He also confessed that so far the negotiation process has not resulted in the halt of fighting and transition to a peaceful settlement.Al-Jubeir also mentioned that if the talks succeed, the way of political means should be studied more closely. He refused to comment on the agenda of the talks, pointing out that its possible success ...
I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people.
Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El ...
Mustafa Kemal ‘Atatürk’ was the consummator of the Greek Genocide. He was born in 1881 at Salonica in Greece (then part of the Ottoman Empire). He attended the Ottoman Military School in Constantinople and graduated in 1905. Around 1908 he joined the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP). Kemal was an officer of the Turkish Army and founded the Turkish Nationalist Movement (the Kemalists) by regrouping the Ottoman Army, Turkish irregulars and the remnants of the CUP. He continued the genocidal policy engineered by the Committee for Union and Progress.Ottoman Greeks were persecuted throughout Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace under ...
President Donald Trump campaigned last year making the sensible argument that the US should no longer engage in a policy of regime change, and should attempt to have friendly relations with other countries like Russia and China. Yesterday he blew those ideas out of the water by launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase and by calling for the removal of Syria’s leader, Bashar al Assad.
The pretext for the US cruise missile blitz, an alleged attack on a rebel-held town called Khan Shiekhun in Idlib province, where some 70 people, including children, were reported to have died from illegal ...
Hypocrisy may be the only consistent guiding principle of US foreign policy. Here's a prime example of the "do as we say, not as we do" that is the core of how Washington does business overseas: In the same week that the the US Justice Department demanded that the Russian-backed RT America network register as a foreign propaganda entity or face arrest, the US State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DNL) has announced that it is launching a program to massively interfere in NATO-partner Hungary's internal media.So the US Justice Department is cracking down on RT America for what ...
Here we go again. In yet another Pentagon precision strike, a residential building in Achin district of Nangarhar province was hit as a crowd welcomed home a tribal leader returning from the Hajj.At least 13 civilians were turned into «collateral damage». The Pentagon of course does not «discuss the details of counter-terror operations», but it’s «currently reviewing all materials related to this strike».Nothing obviously will come out of it – adding the civilian dead to the non-stop mounting toll of Operation Enduring Freedom (Forever).Someone that actually is bound to endure his freedom in full splendor is former warlord, head of ...
For years now, the Western elite have been incessantly pushing the slogan that ‘Assad must go.’ Under the pretext of removing an ‘evil’ dictator and helping the people of Syria, the West has been funding, arming and training an array of Al-Qaeda affiliated legions to force regime change in the country. Contrary to helping the people of Syria however, this has only worked to bring pain, misery and tragedy to Syria.Even the former US Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, admitted that the insistence on ‘Assad must go’ has “paralyzed” any rationale Syrian strategy. Whenever the West appears to have moved on ...
The creation of the First Balkan Alliance against the Ottoman Empire in 1866–1868 in the light of territorial requirements of the Balkan states and nations at the expense of the decreasing power of the Ottoman authorities and the Ottoman state integration was the first political-military treaty on the mutual cooperation by the Christian Balkan states and nations. The secret paragraphs of bilateral military-political contracts between Greece and Serbia and Serbia and Montenegro in regard to territorial inheritance of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans are the most important points of the treaty.Serbia became a leader of the Balkan coalition and ...
What has happened in Paris last weekend is surely tragic indeed. At least 129 civilians were murdered in blatant terrorist attacks on civilian areas. The mainstream media and social media hysteria is understandable given the surprise nature of the attacks and the geographical location in which they took place: Paris, the city of love.
However, if the public truly care about the deaths of innocent lives perhaps they should direct their anger, frustration, fear and political grievances at the French government. The sympathy, fear and unity that the public feel is not only a powerful distraction from truly awful atrocities that ...
“Thousands joined a peaceful protest on Saturday in the Croatian town of Vukovar to express their anger at Croatian institutions for their “silence” over war crimes committed during the 1990s war” (Balkan Transitional Justice, 2018-10-13).
The following essay is my constructive contribution to the above article.
On the occasion of more than two decades of the end of the civil war on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia (1991−1995), it is necessary to reassess the real causes and cardinal perpetuators of Yugoslavia’s internal and external bloody destruction. In the western scientific literature of the “liberal democracy” scholars (like by the journalists and policymakers as ...
"Evicted five centuries ago by crusading Christians, the Arabs are back in Spain, using their oil dollars to buy land that was seized from their ancestors by the sword". — James M. Markham, The New York Times, 1981. The Madrid daily ABC wrote that 800 mosques in Spain are out of control. The Spanish daily La Razon charged that Gulf donors, such as Qatar, were a source of Spain's Islamization. The Saudis also launched a new Spanish television channel, Córdoba TV, as did Iran. They dream of, and work to, regain the "lost Caliphate" of Spain. Some Islamists do ...
President Bill Clinton’s favorite freedom fighter just got indicted for mass murder, torture, kidnapping, and other crimes against humanity. In 1999, the Clinton administration launched a 78-day bombing campaign that killed up to 1500 civilians in Serbia and Kosovo in what the American media proudly portrayed as a crusade against ethnic bias. That war, like most of the pretenses of U.S. foreign policy, was always a sham.Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was charged with ten counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by an international tribunal in The Hague in the Netherlands. It charged Thaci and nine other men with ...
Britain is gripped by fear, panic and anger, after being struck by three terror attacks in the space of three months. Innocent men, women and children have been killed in the terror rampage, filling many homes with tragedy and despair. Martial law has practically been declared in many regions of the country, with troops now being a common site on the streets of Royal Britannia. Many are looking for someone or something to blame, as rage is increasingly triumphing over reason.
Lost in all this hysteria however, there sits a glaring connection that needs to be illuminated: the connection between these ...
When the Warsaw Pact ended, after the collapse of communism, some optimists might have expected Nato to be broken up too.After all, the Labour Party in Britain had been opposed to Nato in the mid-1980s. But that was not to be. The US, which had always dominated Nato, quickly began to reinvent Nato and furthermore to expand it.Following the end of the Warsaw Pact many central and east European governments wanted to join Nato.This of course was music to the ears of the US military manufacturers. Indeed, the chair of the expand Nato committee, Bruce Jackson, was technical director of ...
Against the backdrop of US aggression against North Korea, NATO is intensifying its preparations for war with Russia, the world’s second largest nuclear power. A report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (Issue 43/2017) based on a secret NATO document indicates how far plans for war have progressed. The news magazine concludes:“In plain language: NATO is preparing for a possible war with Russia.”In the document entitled “Progress report on the Alliance’s Enhanced Deterrence and Defence Disposition,” leading military figures call for a major boost to military capabilities in order to conduct a so-called “Major Joint Operation Plus.” The abstruse ...
Each of the full-blown wars between Israel and its Arab neighbours have carried a great measure of significance. The War of 1948 led to the creation of the modern state of Israel, a cause for euphoria among the world’s Jews in the post-Shoah-era, in contrast to the Nakba inflicted on the Arabs of Palestine.The War of 1967, during which Israel routed three Arab armies in six days established Israel as a regional hegemon while its defeated Arab neighbours stewed in their humiliation and the Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza came under occupation.The Arab-Israeli War of 1973, known ...
INTRODUCTIONThe case that will be documented here is that Venezuela’s people are suffering from a tragic national situation which actually cannot be reversed by anything that’s within the power of Venezuela’s Government to do or to block. In order to understand this very unfortunate reality (if one wants to understand it), one must first understand the relevant parts of the broader situation in the world that affects Venezuela. What’s dooming the country isn’t merely a local situation, but instead is global and environmental. It also is economic, pertaining to the role that Venezuela is playing in the global economy. But ...
THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATOAuthor: Mahdi Darius NazemroayaClarity Press (2012)ISBN: 978-0-9852710-2-2 Pages: 411 with complete indexAvailable to order from Global ResearchThe world is enveloped in a blanket of perpetual conflict. Invasions, occupation, illicit sanctions, and regime change have become currencies and orders of the day. One organization – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – is repeatedly, and very controversially, involved in some form or another in many of these conflicts led by the US and its allies. NATO spawned from the Cold War. Its existence was justified by Washington and Western Bloc politicians as a guarantor against any Soviet and ...
The Power of the Internet in Politics
Albanian Drug Gangsters Taunt UK by Flaunting Wealth
Saudi Arabia Reacts to Preparation for Astana Talks
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938): The Perpetrator of the Greek Genocide
Yet Another President Commits the Ultimate War Crime of Launching a “War of Aggression”
Manipulation: The US State Department’s New Program to Take On Hungarian Media
Afghanistan: It is the Heroin, Stupid
Western Imperialism ‘Must Go’
From the History of Anti-Russian Policy: The First Balkan Alliance (1866−1868)
Who Will Pray for the Victims of French Colonial Aggression?
A Croatian Role in the Destruction of Yugoslavia in the 1990s (I)
A New Islamic Occupation of Iberian Peninsula?
Kosovo Indictment Proves Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities
How Britain Helped Create ISIS
NATO – A Dangerous Alliance
NATO Intensifies its Preparations for War with Russia
The Arab-Israel War of 1973 and Its Legacy
Why Venezuela’s People are Suffering
NATO: Proudly Delivering Death Since 1949 – A Book Review