Chemical Warfare In WW1

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The history of war is marked by ever increasingly powerful and odious weapons, but of all the weapons of war both ancient and modern none is more dastardly than chemical warfare. The very use of chemical warfare has been outlawed since WW1 and will get you charged with war crimes if you are found using it. Chemical warfare, is tactical warfare using incendiary mixtures, smokes, or irritant, burning, poisonous, or asphyxiating gases. This is the definition as listed in the Merriam Webster dictionary. Chemical warfare in WW1 was deplorable because it was used extensively on the Western front, the chemical gasses had many effects and properties, the soldiers were scarred mentally by the memory of the gas, and the bodies suffered horrible internal…show more content…
Chemical gas was in fact first used by the Triple Entente and more specifically it was used by France on the Western Front though this gas was far more tame than those used later in the war. The gas used by the French in 1914 was xylyl bromide better known as tear gas. While the French may have been the first to use the gas by this point the Germans had been giving poison gas a great deal of thought. The first gas use by the Germans was not dissimilar from the first use by the French in that it was not meant to kill, but to incapacitate. The first use of poison gas was at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. “At around 17.00 hours on the 22nd April, French sentries in Ypres noticed a yellow-green cloud moving towards them, ”(historylearningsite.co.uk) the gas was released from pressurized cylinders on the German front line between Steenstraat and Langemarck. The French having no knowledge of the German’s gas technology were ordered to the firing line of their trenches and when the gas hit the lines the effects were devastating and many of the soldiers not on the front lines turned fled from the gas. Ypres is an extreme example of the gasses use and the attack was only as devastating as it was because of the Ententes lack of knowledge of German…show more content…
Chlorine gas was used initially as it was developed first and it was primarily used as a lung irritant due to the reaction between the gas and the water in the human lungs and bronchial tubes creating hydrochloric acid which led to extreme coughing fits with people affected by this gas typically coughing up blood and some dying from prolonged exposure. Some 5,000 deaths were recorded throughout the war due to chlorine gas. Phosgene was another another big player in WW1 and it caused far more casualties than chlorine due to its potency with it being toxic at .35 mg per litre. Like chlorine, phosgene was a lung irritant, but it was also known to cause skin lesions and intense nausea.Phosgene chemical compound is COCL2 or Carbonyl diChloride and was composed of a carbon an oxygen and two chlorine atoms. People who had been exposed to phosgene and survived had to be monitored for no less than 48 hours to ensure that there would be no post exposure effects as phosgene was known to affect the body upto 48 hours after initial exposure. The final chemical to make this list is mustard gas, Mustard gas is slightly different than the others as it was created later in the war and was known to cause chemical burns and blistering of the skin and mucous membrane upon contact. Sulfur Mustard (mustard gas) was not extremely deadly only killing 5% of those who were exposed and received

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