Gas Warfare

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Social Studies
World War I

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Gas Warfare

The first army to issue gas masks was no more than gauze bandages with ties. They would be put into water improve the effectiveness in filtering out the gas.

"[The] vapor settled to the ground like a swamp mist and drifted toward the French trenches on a brisk wind. Its effect on the French was a violent nausea and faintness, followed by an utter collapse. It is believed that the Germans, who charged in behind the vapor, met no resistance at all, the French at their front being virtually paralyzed." - The use of gas at Langemarck as reported in the New York Tribune, April 27, 1915.

Gas Warfare

*Gas warfare had never been used on a battlefield until 1915. The Germans are believed to be the first to have used it, but the French and English were not far behind with the detrimental use of it. Gas would often only wound and cause panic instead of killing. That could be used to the opposite side as a quick distraction.

The cannister gas mask was used to protect the soldier from the use of chlorine gas and tearing agents . This type of mask was not effective in the use of filtering out the more deadly gases. There was no mask that could offer protection from mustard gas.

*The first reported use of gas was by the Germans on the eastern front on January 3, 1915. The first use on the western front came a few months later on April 22, 1915.At 1700 hours the Germans released a 5 mile wide cloud of chlorine gas. It drifted into the French and Algerian trenches where it caused wide spread panic and death. This is where gas warfare had started.

Soliders in the Trenches

First gas mask

Soldier using a cannister mask

If you would like to learn more about trench warfare and different types of gases, watch this video!

Different types of Gases used in warfare:Lachrymator: Caused temporary blindness and inflamed the nose and throat. A gas mask was very good protection from this type of gas.Asphyxiant: The poisonous gases. Forms acid when coming in contact with moisture like the lungs and eyes. Blistering Agent Dichlorethylsulphide: Included mustard gas; This gas attacks any exposed skin. A gas mask could offer very little protection. It would produce blisters whenever it came in contact with skin. It would stay for days even after being dropped.

The gas is stored in bottles for to put near the enemy trenches or base. Sniper fire would be used to break the bottle and release the gas.

A German gas laboratory near the front

*During World War one, armies used carrier pigeos and dogs to send messages.

German soldiers placing their carrier pigeons in a shelter during a gas attack.

Gas masked British soldiers using a machine gun.

World War one gas mask propaganda

Citations: *"Gas Warfare." Trenches on the Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015*"World War One Propaganda Posters." N.p., n.d. Web.


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