Poison Gas Use During WWI

Poison Gas Use During WWI
Types of Poison Gas
Tearing Agent (lachrymatory)
France used it first in 1914
Causes temporary blindness
Inflames the nose and throat
Gas mask offered good protection
Similar to mace and pepper spray
No long term effects if used properly
Some forms would freeze in cold weather and not work
(Eastern Front)
First Used by the Germans in 1915
Poisonous gases
Chlorine (First developed by Germany)
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
Gas Masks were effective in filtering Chlorine
British Use of Chlorine Gas
• Commander of British II Corps, Lt.Gen.
Ferguson (officially) said of gas:
“It is a cowardly form of warfare which does not commend
itself to me or other English soldiers.... We cannot win this
war unless we kill or incapacitate more of our enemies than
they do of us, and if this can only be done by our copying the
enemy in his choice of weapons, we must not refuse to do so”
First attempt was a disaster as wind blew gas back
into British Trenches. Also many British troops
were not equipped with gas masks
• First Developed by the French in 1915
• Odorless and hard to detect
• Often used mixed with an equal volume of
chlorine, with the chlorine helping to spread the
denser phosgene.
• Some of the symptoms of exposure took 24 hours
or more to manifest
• 85% of the 100,000 deaths caused by chemical
weapons during World War I
Blistering Agent
Mustard gas
Attacks any exposed, moist skin
Eyes, lungs, armpits groin, etc….
Caused huge blisters
“Heavy” gas as it laid in areas for hours
sometimes days
• Fatal victims sometimes took four or five
weeks to die of mustard gas exposure.[32]
How was poison gas used?
Before gas masks soldiers
used socks soaked in urine
to filter out poison gas
Gas Victims
Poison Gas Victim:
“It seemed as if my lungs were
gradually shutting up and my heart
pounded away in my ears like the beat
of a drum. On looking at the chap
next to me I felt sick, for green stuff
was oozing from the side of his mouth”
Estimated gas casualties[34] Nation
Fatal Non-fatal
56,000 419,340
British Empire 8,109
Austria-Hungary 3,000 100,000
88,498 1,240,853