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Reconsidering Poison Gas as a Weapon <br />(Current Opinion, 1925)Reconsidering Poison Gas as a Weapon
(Current Opinion, 1925)
An article about J.B.S. Haldane (1892 – 1964), formerly a British combatant of the Great War who became a chemist (and pioneer geneticist) during the inter-war years studying not merely the effectiveness of poison gas but the question as to whether the weapon was more humane than bullets and artillery shells:

"The future lies with poisonous smoke made from arsenic compounds and with mustard gas. Of the latter, he says, it kills one man for every forty it puts out of action, whereas, shells kill one for every three."

His musings concerning atomic energy are referred to as are some of his quack-theories regarding the effects of gas warfare on people with dark skin.

Chemical War <br />(The North American Review, 1922)Chemical War
(The North American Review, 1922)
The article attached concerns the past and future of chemical warfare (at least as this was understood in 1922) and was written by Captain J.M. Scammell, Brit who wrote a good deal on the matter throughout much of the Twenties and Thirties. Like so many other articles we find from the immediate post-war period, Captain Scammell argued that chemical warfare can be one of the most humane options available to a general:

"The really significant figures are those showing that while gas caused 27.3 percent of all casualties, of these only 1.87 percent died! That is less than one-twelfth the percentage that died from the effects of other wounds. Gas, moreover, does not mutilate or disfigure..."

The Blessings of Poison Gas <br />(Literary Digest, 1927)The Blessings of Poison Gas
(Literary Digest, 1927)
Having examined the collected data from the First World War, scientists and soldiers alike were drawing surprising conclusions as to the inefficiency of chemical agents in warfare. No doubt, it was articles such as this that lead to the decision not to use gas in the Second World War:

"Poisonous gas as used in warfare is 'a blessing, not a curse,' and makes for the future security and peace of the world'", declares J.E. Mills, of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service

"...Theoretically one ton of mustard gas could kill 45,000,000 men. Actually one ton of mustard gas as used at the front caused about twenty-nine casualties, of which one died."

The Future of War and Chemical Weapons <br />(Current Opinion, 1921)The Future of War and Chemical Weapons
(Current Opinion, 1921)
Read this article and you will soon get a sense of what busy bees they must have been over at the United States Department of War within that year and a half following the close of World War One. General Amos A. Fries and the lads attached to the Chemical Warfare Service had been applying much cranium power to all matters involving mustard gas, tear gas, Lewisite and White Phosphorus. Much of the post-war dollar was devoted to making ships impervious to gas attacks, masks and uniforms suited to withstand nerve agents and offensive aircraft capable of deploying chemical bombs.

"As to the effectiveness of phosphorous and thermit against machine-gun nests, there is no recorded instance where our gas troops failed to silence German machine-gun nests once they were located...In the next war, no matter how soon it may occur, a deadly composition called Lewisite will be used with far more devastating effect than that of mustard gas."

W.W. I Gas Shells of the German Army <br />(Almanach Hachette, 1919)W.W. I Gas Shells of the German Army
(Almanach Hachette, 1919)
It is often believed that the Germans were the first to use chemical weapons during the Great War, but historians like to point out that they were second to the French in this matter: in August of 1914, French infantry fired tear-gas grenades and in October, the Germans one-upped them with chemical artillery shells during the battle of Neuve Chapelle. However, the Germans are properly credited for being the first of the combatants to use chemical artillery with the most devastating effect. On April 22, 1915, the German Army hurled 520 gas shells at British and Canadian units in Belgium, killing five thousand and incapacitating ten thousand more. Following this historic incident, both sides began producing large amounts of gas shells and, of course, gas masks. The following is a black and white diagram depicting five different German gas artillery shells that were manufactured to be fired from a number of different guns of varying calibers.
Mustard Gas Warfare  <br />(NY Times, 1918)Mustard Gas Warfare
(NY Times, 1918)
A 1918 NEW YORK TIMES article that reported on the expectations among the French and British for the United States to both use and manufacture mustard gas now that they have joined the war against Imperial Germany. The reporter went to some length elucidating as to the nasty, obscene and vile nature of mustard gas:

"Several months ago when I was making an experiment, some mustard gas got between two of my fingers. It was so little that it escaped notice. It was not until 9 o'clock that night that my hand began to look puffy. The next morning it was badly blistered."

The U.S. Fires Her First Mustard Gas Shell <br />(Observer, 1918)The U.S. Fires Her First Mustard Gas Shell
(Observer, 1918)
A cartoon by Alban B. Butler illustrating the overwhelming sense of glee that overcame American 1st Division artillerymen of World War I when they were charged with the task of firing the very first mustard gas shells ever to be fired by U.S. forces:

"For months Americans had suffered from repeated concentrations of German mustard gas without the chance to retaliate in kind.

(No date was given)

The Business End of Gas Warfare <br />(Literary Digest, 1917)The Business End of Gas Warfare
(Literary Digest, 1917)
The attached article, "How Well Our Chemical Industry Has Been Mobilized for War" is an abstract from a 1917 issue of THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE which discussed how readily American chemists embraced their roll after the United States committed itself to the war.

There is much talk of the procurement of potash, toluol and trinitrotoluol which were necessary elements in the manufacture of gas.

Gas Attack Horrors <br />(NY Times, 1915)Gas Attack Horrors
(NY Times, 1915)
French novelist Pierre Loti (né Julien Viaud: 1850 - 1923) filed this dispatch from a forward aid station in the the French sector where he witnessed the suffering of the earliest gas attack casualties:

"A place of horror which one would think Dante had imagined. The air is heavy, stifling; two or three little night lamps, which look as if they were afraid of giving too much light, hardly pierce the hot, smoky darkness which smells of fever and sweat. Busy people are whispering anxiously. But you hear, more than all, agonized gasping. These gaspings escape from a number of little beds drawn up close together on which are distinguished human forms, above all, chests, chests that are heaving too strongly, too rapidly, and that raise the sheets as if the hour of the death rattle had already come."

Click here to read about the new rules for warfare that were written as a result of the First World War - none of them pertain to poison gas.

Gassing as Crime <br />(H.W. Wilson, 1917)Gassing as Crime
(H.W. Wilson, 1917)
When the United States Congress declared war on Imperial Germany in April of 1917, the New York pamphleteer Halsey William Wilson (1868 - 1954) wasted little time in collecting a list of the numerous war crimes committed by the Germans up to that time in order to launch a mass printing of a 31 page pamphlet that would sell for five cents each. The heinous use of poison gas was listed on page nine.
Gassing The Germans <br />(American Legion Weekly, 1922)Gassing The Germans
(American Legion Weekly, 1922)
This is the story of the First Gas Regiment. It was organized at American University (Washington, D.C.) in August of 1917 and arrived in France in time to disperse noxious gas all over the Germans as they launched their March offensive in 1918:

"Company B of the First Battalion was the outfit that participated in the first show. The attack was launched on a two-mile front extending from Lens to Hill 70 near Loos, and held by the Canadians... It was a tough job. The nature of the work was graphically described by a Yankee buck, who said in a moment of disgust: 'This is a job for grave diggers, hod carriers and piano movers, instead of chemists, pipe fitters and mechanics."

In Defense Of Chemical Warfare <br />(Reader's Digest, 1923)In Defense Of Chemical Warfare
(Reader's Digest, 1923)
This article is very different from the others posted in the W.W. I Poison Gas Warfare section of this site. The column is a spirited argument advocating for chemical weapons, recalling the productive roll they played in the Great War. It was written by General Amos A. Fries (1873 - 1963) who had commanded the U.S. Army Chemical Warfare units during the First World War:

"Poison gas is the most effective weapon mankind has ever devised. Will any nation with its back to the wall, and fighting for its life, hesitate to use it?"

''The Pleasures of Gas Warfare'' <br />(Literary Digest, 1937)''The Pleasures of Gas Warfare''
(Literary Digest, 1937)
"Gas, even in its most virulent form, is the most rational as well as the most humane weapon ever employed on the battlefield. It is also - and this should certainly be of interest to the advocates of strict neutrality - the only weapon in the arsenal of Mars which can truly be called defensive."