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Research Paper on the Use of Chemical Warfare in World War I

It contains developments and counteraction of chemical warfare in World War l. It will include the evaluation of the success of chemical weapons including the evolution of both the weapons themselves and the development of health care to offset their effect. The investigation will also involve the chemical aspect of the weapons; however will not explicitly go into detail about the reactions taking place in the gases themselves. Lastly, the investigation will provide evidence of the decrease in effectiveness of chemical weapons in a military setting, and only were effective as a scare cacti.

Two sources are The Manual of Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Warfare Agents by Dry. Jules Beebe as well as “Chemical Warfare and Medical Responses During World War l,” an article written by Dry. Gerald J. Fitzgerald. Both sources will be evaluated for their origins, purposes, value, and limitations pertaining to the topic. This investigation is limited to World War I uses of chemical weapons by both axis and allied powers and will not go into detail about geographic scope or military strategies not pertaining to the use of chemical warfare. B. Summery of Evidence

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The first sighting of chemical weapons in World War I was by the French, who fired tear gas rifles at enemies in November of 1914. (lulls Beebe: “Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics and Chemical Agents”) German scientists studied wind patterns and assessed that French soldiers would not be able to escape the trenches. The First militarily mass killings caused by Chemical Warfare was during the Second Battle of Hypes when Germans used chlorine gas to kill 5000 Allied soldiers and scare 1 0,000 others from continuing an assault. During the Third battle of Hypes Allied forces used mustard gas on Axis oldie’s.

They pushed the Germans back five miles at the cost of 400,000 Allied lives. (Jules Beebe: “Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Agents”) The attack broke a seven-kilometer hole in the French lines. The Germans did not pursue the French. At Loss in 191 5, the British attempted a chlorine gas attack on the Germans by placing the gas in a revolving cylinder, however the wind shifted directions causing the gas to be blown back at the British soldiers. More British soldiers were hurt by friendly fire than casualties of the Germans at the battle of Loss. A new delivery method was established by releasing gas through artillery shells.

Gas Masks were a mandatory part of a soldier’s uniform toward the end of the war, which scientists proved to be effective against chlorine gases used by the Germans in World War I. (Gerald J. Fitzgerald: Chemical Warfare and Medical Response During World War l) In July 1917 the Germans deployed a new gas, mustard gas, which instead of being inhaled like the other chemical agents, affected the skin it touched. (Tim Cook: No place to Run) New medical strategies were developed to combat this new gas. Hot soap showers became a mandatory battlefield asset. If a soldier were exposed for over 30 minutes, he would begin to blister.

The Soap and hot Water would counteract the gases reaction with the skin. (Gerald J. Fitzgerald: Chemical Warfare and Medical Response During World War I) Chlorine gas would be dropped on civilians, who did not have equipment to protect themselves. Mustard gas casualties statistically caused the most casualties. 30% of all casualties in the war were due to gas exposure, however 80% of British chemical casualties were due to Mustard gas alone. (Gerald J. Fitzgerald: Chemical Warfare and Medical Response During World War I) Mustard gas was heavier and often times accumulated on the battlefield, creating chemical hazards for soldiers.

Unlike prior gases, Mustard gas was very thick making it easily viewable. (Jules Beebe: “Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Agents”) As the United States entered the war, they immediately took advantage of the use of mustard gas and even developed a new, considerably more lethal gas Likewise. (Gerald J. Fitzgerald: Chemical Warfare and Medical Response During World War l) The Chemical keep of Likewise is dishonorable; a chlorine based gas. (Britannica) Likewise was never used in combat. “Gas” resulted in over 90,000 military deaths and 1,000,000 military casualties in World War l. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) By the end of World War l, 124,000 tons of chemical gas had been used in combat. (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Casualties From Gas – The Numbers Country Total Casualties Deaths Austria-Hungary 3,000 British Empire 188,706 8,109 France 190,000 8,000 Germany 200,000 9,000 Italy 60,000 4, 627 Russia 41 9,340 56,000 USA 2,807 1,462 Others 10,000 1,000 -frontward’s. Com Four percent of casualties in World War I were the result of chemical weaponry. C. Evaluation of Sources The Manual of Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Warfare Agents by Dry.

Jules Beebe, Professor Of Chemical Technology at Washington university in the asses, was produced in 1 942 as an informational, non-fiction textbook. Originally intended for College students studying chemical formulas, Bike’s purpose of writing this was to provide insight on chemical weaponry and his first person experience of World War l, as he was alive ring World War l, makes his book highly valuable to any research: as well as his unique, “chemist’s view” on the topic. He provides tremendous amounts of chemistry and history on Chemical warfare and its use in World War l.

His book is limiting however, because it does not directly relate to the topic, although he does provide informational pieces of information including an in depth analysis of the history of chemical warfare. The book is more geared toward a college audience studying engineering or chemistry, rather than providing history or statistics on the effectiveness of chemical weapons. Chemical Warfare and Medical Responses During World War l” written by Gerald Fitzgerald was written in 2008 nearly 100 years after World War l. It was revised later in the year.

Gerald Fitzgerald (MO) is an established practitioner who wrote this journal for the American Journal of Public Health. He wrote for the public to view as a presentation for the purpose of informing the public of the medical treatment for chemical burns during World War l, being that it was a tremendous feat in medicine along with a history of the development of chemical weaponry throughout major battles. He also includes sources from the war and provides a doctors perspective on a war with so many casualties. It is also interesting to hear what a modern doctor has to comment on twentieth century medicine.

It is valuable because the article provides a unique perspective on the use of chemical weapons in World War l. Many people forget that gas would have caused many more fatalities were it not for the innovations made by doctors and scientists. It is limiting because also it is not a primary source, but rather a secondary source with information gathered from various locations. Fitzgerald provides a horrors history, however he does not back the history with statistics. The first effective use of chemical weapons in World War I (The Chemists War) came when German troops launched 1 60 tons of chlorine gas toward French lines (April 22, 1915).

The Germans broke open a 7-kilometer hole on the French Army due to this new, malicious weapon. The Germans, however, did not capitalize on this not knowing what the results would be. All participants of the war used war gases, proving that neither side truly had an advantage. That being said, the use off chemical weapon took ingenious technology and strategic planning in order for the weapon to accomplish its task. Chemical warfare was considered horrifying as armies would drop chemicals on innocent civilians who were not prepared nor skilled enough to save themselves from gruesome gas inflicted injuries or in many cases, death.

This also being said, historian Jules Beebe argues that chemical weapons were melodramatically “ineffective. ” (The Manual of Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Warfare Agents) He argues that they caused horror and inflicted pain to unsuspecting soldiers, but ultimately were just fear factors hat were silenced by the development of preventative methods including the gammas and respirators and the development of medical treatment. However, an innocent civilian does not have access to a gammas, nor immediate medical attention, but most soldiers did rendering chemical weapons to be morally wrong, but militarily unproductive.

J. Calvert claims that this is the reason chemical warfare was banned. Tim Cook also argues that “Gas” was not a “War winning weapon” in his Book, No Place to Run. He says it only strikes fear in the enemy’s heart, but only caused casualties rather than deaths. He writes, “Although massive artillery bombardments and deadly hails of machine-gun bullets had already reduced warfare to mass murder, gas was viewed as somehow more villainous, more despicable. On the non-gas battlefield, soldiers at least had a chance to stay alive by using their wits and good field craft.

With gas there was no bravery, no heroics. ” (Cook 756) Dry. Fitzgerald offers a differing opinion however in his article “Chemical Warfare and Medical Responses in World War l,” claiming that from a medical standpoint, chemical warfare was “detrimental. ” It would leave soldiers aimed and would be a mass killing device. He would later go on and say that, although medical advancements were made, gas would affect to broad of an audience, overloading doctors.

An unidentified nurse writes, “l wish those people who write so glibly about this being a holy war and the orators who talk so much about going on no matter how long the war lasts and what it may mean, could see a case – to say nothing often cases – of mustard gas in its early Stages – could see the poor things burnt and blistered all over with great mustard-colored suppurating blisters, with blind eyes .. .All sticky and tuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke. Chemical weapons did play a role in the outcome of World War l, however they were not the determining factor. The investigation has proven that many people where killed and injured through the practice of Chemical Warfare, but the actual percentage of military fatalities caused by gas is only 4 percent. Numerically this is a lot of people, but only barely enough to even put a dent in the total number of military casualties in World War l. Gas was ore effective as a scare tactic used by both sides as it has a much higher lethality rate on civilians that did not have access to the advanced technology and medical care the soldiers did.


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