Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On this day in 1915: Poison gas used for first time in World War I

German World War I
Cemetery, Latvia
The horrors of warfare reached a new low 100 years ago today when German forces released poison gas on Allied soldiers in Belgium during World War I.

From the Independent:
At around 5pm, across a 6km front, troops released almost 6,000 metal cannisters – 168 tonnes – of poisonous chlorine gas towards trenches held by French and Algerian forces near the Belgian city of Ypres.

The results were devastating. A noxious yellow cloud enveloped the allied positions, and within moments 5,000 soldiers were dead, with another 10,000 injured, as the gas ate into their unprotected lungs.

Field Marshal Sir John French, Commander in Chief of the British force at Ypres, described the attack in his dispatches from the front line. "It was at first impossible for anyone to realise what had actually happened," he wrote.

"The smoke and fumes hid everything from sight, and hundreds of men were thrown into a comatose or dying condition, and within an hour the whole position had to be abandoned."
For the most part poison gas has not been used as weapon since the end of the Great War--although it was utilized by both evil sides in the Iran-Iraq War.

Related posts:

No comments: