GAS WARFARE OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR: 1914 – 1918
The Battle of Ypres in April 1915 saw the first
use of a terrifying new weapon in the squalid trench warfare of the First World
War – POISON GAS! Unleashed by the
Germans, most of the Allied troops were totally unprepared for the choking
green chlorine clouds; clouds that wafted into their trenches wreaking havoc
and carnage to all those who breathed in the deadly toxic fumes.
The first ’Gas Masks’ were simply a scarf covering
the nose and mouth soaked in urine to counteract the deadly fumes! The Allies were quick to respond with many
variants of poisonous gas and innovative new ways of delivering it from the
simple gas cannister and gas shell to the Livens Projectors that could deliver
multiple salvoes of this ghastly weapon.
Gas Masks were quickly improved on both sides.
Unique footage from The Imperial War Museum takes us through the evolution of
the gas mask and all the detoxification procedures that the troops had to go
through as explained in graphic detail by celebrated military expert Major
Allied troops were alerted of pending gas attacks
by the Strombos horn, the Rattle, Gong or Triangle. Dug-outs and trenches had
to be cleared of gas. Horses, dogs and local children had to be protected and
there is an as yet unseen visit to the Boots Factory in Nottingham to witness
the manufacture of thousands upon thousands of gas masks destined for the
We see both British and French Tank warfare where
the crews inside these hot, dark, noisy beasts were forced to wear gas masks as
Finally, the Germans introduced an even more
wicked concoction – Mustard Gas that could cause blisters on the skin the size
of a tennis ball.