Part 2 out of 5
Their Origin.--"Our Flammenwerfer troops owe their origin to a mere incident.
Their present commander, Major R., when an officer of the Reserve, received
the order, during peace manoeuvres, to hold a certain fort at all costs.
During the sham fight, having employed all means at his disposal,
he finally alarmed the fire brigade unit, which was under his orders as
commander of the fort, and directed the water jets on the attacking force.
Afterwards, during the criticism of operations in the presence of the Kaiser,
he claimed that he had subjected the attackers to streams of burning oil.
The Kaiser thereupon inquired whether such a thing would be possible,
and he received an answer in the affirmative.
"Long series of experiments were necessary before Engineer L. succeeded
in producing a combination of various oils, which mixture is projected
as a flame on the enemy by means of present day Flammenwerfer.
"Major R. occupied himself in peace time with fighting fire
as commander of the Munich Fire Brigade. The `Prince of Hades,'
as he is called by his `fire spouters,' enjoys great popularity among his
men as well as among the troops to whose assistance he may be called.
He can look back on an important development of his units.
Whereas in January, 1915, Flammenwerfer troops consisted of a group
of 36 men, to-day they constitute a formation with special assault
and bombing detachments, and are furnished with all requisites
for independent action. In reading Army Communiques, we often
find mention of these troops. If difficulty is experienced
in clearing up an English or French Infantry nest, the `Prince
of Hades' appears with his hosts and smokes the enemy out.
That conditions of membership of this unit hardly constitute
a life insurance policy is obvious; nor is every man suitable.
Special men who are physically adapted and who have given proof
of keenness in assault are necessary for such work."
Further Flame Development.--Specimens of a very neat portable
German Flammenwerfer were captured in August, 1917. It contained
three essential parts: a ring-shaped oil container surrounding
a spherical vessel containing compressed nitrogen, which was used
to expel the oil, and a flexible tube of rubber and canvas carrying
the jet. The whole was arranged to be carried on the back.
At about this time prisoners stated that men were transferred
to the Flammenwerfer companies as a form of punishment.
The Germans were fond of using the Flammenwerfer during counter-attacks
and raids in which the morale factor is so important. Thus in September,
1915, in a raid against the British during our great offensive,
the German raiding party was heralded by a shower of stick bombs and
the Flammenwerfer men followed. The bombing party advanced under cover
of these men, the smoke from the flame throwers acting as a screen.
British experience was that the calm use of machine-gun fire soon put
German flame throwers out of action, and it is clear that the Germans
themselves realised this weakness of isolated flame attacks for, in one
of their documents issued by German G.H.Q. in April, 1918, they said:
"Flammenwerfer have been usefully employed in combats against villages.
They must be engaged in great numbers and must fight in close liaison
with the infantry, which helps them with the fire of its machine-guns
and its grenades."
The 1918 Offensive.--Some idea of the importance of these developments
and of the scale on which they were exploited in the later campaigns
of the war can be obtained by briefly examining the German plans
for the use of gas in their 1918 offensive, and their execution:
_Die Technik im Weltkriege_ tells us: "During the big German attacks
in 1918, gas was used against artillery and infantry in quantities
which had never been seen before, and even in open warfare the troops
were soon asking for gas."
The Yellow and Blue Cross shells first introduced into operation in July,
1917, were not incorporated into comprehensive offensives until March, 1918.
Owing to the exigencies of the campaign, the initial surprise value of these
gases was subordinated to the later large scale use in the great offensive.
In December, 1917, the German Army was instructed anew regarding
the use of the new gas shell types for different military purposes,
laying great stress on the use of non-persistent gas for the attack.
Fortunately for us, the gas shells destined for this purpose were not
relatively so efficient as the German persistent types, which were devoted
to the more remote preparation for attack and to defensive purposes.
Their penetrating Blue Cross types were a comparative failure.
Although plans emphasised the importance of this gas for the attack,
facts later gave greater prominence to the use of the persistent Yellow Cross
shell for defensive purposes in the great German retreat.
Ludendorffs Testimony.--Ludendorff, himself, emphasised the great
importance which was attached to gas in this offensive.
He says: "And yet our artillery relied on gas for its effect,
and that was dependent on the direction and strength of the wind.
I had to rely on the forecast submitted to me at 11 a.m, by
my meteorologist, Lieutenant Dr. Schmaus. Up till the morning
of the 20th strength and direction were by no means very favourable;
indeed, it seemed almost necessary to put off the attack.
It would have been very hard to do. So I was very anxious to see
what sort of report I should get. It was not strikingly favourable,
but it did indicate that the attack was possible. At 12 noon
the Army Groups were told that the programme would be carried out.
Now it could no longer be stopped. Everything must run its course.
G.H.Q. higher commanders and troops had all done their duty.
The rest was in the hands of fate, unfavourable wind diminished
the effectiveness of the gas, fog retarded our movements
and prevented our superior training and leadership from reaping
its full reward."
 _My War Memories_. Hutchinson & Co., 1919.
Preparations for Assault;--Gas Defensive at Armentieres.--For twelve
days prior to their March assault the Germans used mustard gas over,
certain areas, and the non-persistent types for other localities.
As an example of the first method, we can state that nearly
200,000 rounds of Yellow Cross shell were used on the 9th March,
and caused us heavy casualties. The actual attack at once
confirmed our suspicions of enemy intention to break through on
the territories which were not infected by the persistent mustard gas.
In the second case, of the non-persistent types of Blue and Green Cross,
bombardments of tremendous intensity occurred for several hours
before the assault, on all defensive positions and organisations
for several miles behind the front line. Millions of rounds must
have been used. Although not without serious effect on the campaign,
this furious gas attack did not fully justify expectations.
The failure of mask penetration by the Blue Cross shell prevented
the full possibilities of Green Cross coming into play.
To illustrate the specific use of gas in this great offensive,
and the organic way in which it was co-ordinated in the plan of attack,
we quote from a recent statement by General Hartley. Referring
to the gas shelling immediately before the extension of the attack
to the north of Lens on 9th April, he explains, "Between the 7th April
and 9th April there was no gas shelling between the La Bassee Canal
and Armentieres, while there was heavy Yellow Cross shelling
immediately south of the Canal, and Armentieres had such a heavy
bombardment that the gutters were running with mustard gas.
This indicated the probability of an attack on the front held
by the Portuguese, which occurred on 9th April, Blue and Green Cross
being used in the preliminary bombardment." The Portuguese front
lay between the two Yellow Cross regions.
 _Journal of the Royal Artillery_, February, 1920.
Fixed Gas Barrage at Kemmel.--Another most interesting example
is also quoted, dealing with the shelling preceding the attack
on Kemmel on 25th April. "This is an interesting case,
as non-persistent Blue Cross shell were used within the objective
and Yellow Cross just behind it, indicating that on 25th April
the enemy did not intend to go beyond the line they gained."
Percentage of Chemical Shell.--Some idea of the importance
which the Germans attached to their chemical ammunition,
as distinct from explosives, can be gathered from the following
extract from a captured order of the Seventh German Army,
dated May 8th, 1918, giving the proportion of chemical shell
to be used in the artillery preparation for the attack on
the Aisne on 27th May, 1918.
"(_a_) Counter-battery and long range bombardments.
For 7.7 c/m field guns, 10.5 c/m and 15 c/m,
howitzers and 10 c/m guns; Blue Cross 70%,
Green Cross, 10%; H.E. 20%, long 15
c/m guns fire only H.E.
(_b_) Bombardment of infantry positions.
(i) Creeping Barrage.
For 7.7 c/m field guns, 10.5 c/m and 15
c/m howitzers; Blue Cross 30%, Green
Cross 10%, H.E. 60%, 21 c/m howitzers
fire only H.E.
(ii) Box Barrage.
For 7.7 c/m field guns, 10.5 c/m howitzers
and 10 c/m guns; Blue Cross 60%, Green
Cross 10%, H.E. 30%."
What more striking demonstration is needed than these
extraordinarily high percentages?
Gas Retreat Tactics;--General Hartley's Analysis.--No Yellow Cross
shell were to be used in the bombardment, but, as mentioned above,
there was a complete change of tactics in their retreat, during which they
attempted to create a series of barriers by literally flooding areas
with mustard gas. This defensive use of mustard gas was most important.
Again, quoting General Hartley, "Yellow Cross shell were used much
farther forward than previously, bombardments of the front line
system and of forward posts were frequent, and possible assembly
positions were also shelled with this gas. On more than one occasion
when an attack was expected the enemy attempted to create an impassable
zone in front of our forward positions by means of mustard gas.
Their gas bombardments usually occurred on fronts where they had reason
to fear an attack, with the idea of inflicting casualties in areas
where troops might be massing. It was instructive to note how supplies
of Yellow Cross shell were switched from the Third to the First Army
front late in August when they became nervous about the latter sector.
In Yellow Cross they had an extremely fine defensive weapon, which they
did not use to the best advantage, for instance, they neglected its use
on roads and did not hamper our communications nearly as much as they
might have done. As our offensive progressed their gas shelling
became less organised, and one saw very clearly the superior value
of a big gas bombardment as compared with a number of small ones.
In the latter case it was usually possible to evacuate the contaminated
ground and take up alternative positions, while in the case of a bombardment
of a large area such as the Cambrai salient, the difficulty of doing
so was greatly increased, and consequently casualties were higher.
During our offensive it was not possible to exercise the same precautions
against gas as during stationary warfare, and the casualties were
increased on this account."
Percentage of German Gas Shell in Enemy Dumps.--A test of the
importance attached by any army to the different types of ammunition
which it uses can be made by examining the percentage of such
types of shell in a number of ammunition dumps assembled behind
the front line for some specific operation, or part of a campaign.
An examination of German production from this point of view
is very interesting, and also brings out a significant point.
The normal establishment of a German divisional ammunition dump
in July, 1918, contained about 50 per cent. of gas shell.
The dumps captured later in the year contained from 30 per cent.
to 40 per cent. These figures are significant, for they show
how much importance the German Army attached to gas shell.
When we think of the millions of shell and of the huge quantities
of explosives turned out by our own factories to fill them,
and when we realise that for a large number of gun calibres
the Germans used as many shell filled with gas as with explosive,
some idea of the importance of gas in the recent war and of its
future possibilities can be obtained. Further, when we realise
that the production of explosives can be controlled and inspected
during peace, but that no such control can exist for chemical
warfare products, the significance for the future stands revealed.
Forced Exhaustion of Stocks.--It might be thought that the lower percentages
found later on in the year were an indication of the decreasing importance
of chemical shell. Examining the case less superficially, however, we soon
see that this lower percentage has an entirely different meaning.
In the first place, we know that the German factories were still pressing
on to their maximum output at the time of the Armistice. New units were
being brought into operation. Secondly, we have seen how huge quantities
of mustard gas were diverted to those particular German armies which were
most threatened by the final Allied offensive, indicating that certain
portions of the German front were being starved for chemical shell.
The truth of the matter is that the Germans had accumulated enormous
stocks for their great offensive and that they had expended these
stocks at a greater rate than their factories could replace them.
We learn from Schwarte's book that, "Although the production of Yellow Cross
almost reached 1000 tons a month, yet finally the possibilities of use
and the amount required were so great that only a much increased monthly
output would have been sufficient."
Yperite, French Mustard Gas.--During this period the volume
of allied gas activities also increased considerably.
But until June, 1918, our success was due to the development
of more successful tactical methods rather than to any
specific chemical surprise.
Very great credit is due to the French for having produced large quantities
of mustard gas by the above date.
Judging from the German Intelligence Reports the surprise effect of the French
production was almost as great as that obtained by the earlier German use.
It again evaded the gas discipline of the troops, and we find the German staff
laying enormous emphasis on this question, which was already very prominent
in their general and operation orders. The occasion provided a very striking
example of German belief in their absolute predominance in production.
They were largely justified in this belief, but it carried them too far.
They explained the use of mustard gas by the French as due to the use
of German mustard gas obtained from "blind" German shell!
Effect on German Gas Discipline.--British mustard gas was not in use
in the field until September, 1918, but the French was a great success,
and probably contributed to no small extent to the final allied
success in the 1918 campaign. The French termed mustard gas
"Yperite" after Ypres, the place where it was first used.
As far as such terms can be applied to any weapon, Yperite arrived
to spread panic, and terror amongst the German formations.
A document captured by the Sixth French Army shows that Yperite used
on the 13th June against the 11th Bavarian Division was the chief cause
of the precipitate retreat of this Division. The Seventh German Army
refers to another bombardment on the 9th of June, in which the casualties
exceeded five hundred.
It is curious to note that although the Germans had so preached
the superiority of their gases and gas methods, serious blows
by the Allies found the German gas discipline unequal to them.
It is no exaggeration to say that the use of mustard gas by the French,
and later by the British, and the British projector, produced,
on each occasion, in the German ranks feelings allied to panic.
This is reflected in the many orders which have been captured from
army and other headquarters enforcing and even appealing for gas
discipline amongst the troops. Thus, almost immediately after
the first French use, Ludendorff, chief of the German General Staff,
issued a special detailed order on the subject, and the German
document captured by the French can be taken as representative.
"Our Yellow Cross has caused much damage to the enemy, formerly less
protected than now. But as a natural sequence he had developed
through it a gas discipline which can certainly be taken as model.
On this account enemy troops have been able to cross, at once
and without loss, areas which their artillery had just bombarded
with gas. We also must train our troops to an excellent
standard of gas discipline if we expect to avoid the grave
dangers which threaten the fighting forces of our army."
By the time of the Armistice France had produced nearly 2000 tons
of mustard gas, British and American production was rapidly increasing,
so that the output was attaining stupendous proportions.
Some idea of the importance of chemical warfare in the campaigns
of 1917-1918 can be obtained from the following figures:
Allied Gas Statistics.--Between November, 1917, and November, 1918,
France produced more than five millions of her latest type of respirator.
The British figure was probably higher. From April to November, 1918,
the French filled nearly two and a half million shell with mustard gas.
From the 1st of July, 1915, to the latter date more than seventeen million
gas shell were completed by the French. In addition to these huge gas
shell figures we must remember the chemical operations from projectors
and as cloud gas. During the period the British averaged fifty
large scale operations of this type per month, sometimes discharging
monthly three hundred tons of gas. The total French production of
chlorine and poison gas for chemical warfare approached 50,000 tons,
a large proportion of which production occurred during 1917 and 1918.
The British was of the same order, but German production was at least
more than twice as high, showing what great use they made of gas shell.
The huge American programme might have reduced the margin, but no limits
can be placed on German possibilities and elasticity in production.
Critical Importance of Rapid German Production.--These figures are
misleading inasmuch as they give no indication whatever of the relative
difficulties and corresponding rapidity of action on both sides.
As a general rule, where the German lag between the approval
of a substance and its use in the field covered weeks, our lag
covered months. Owing to efficient production, chemical warfare
was an infinitely more flexible weapon in German hands than in ours.
This will be readily understood when we analyse, later,
the methods of production of some of the chief German war gases.
In general, German development of these complicated substances
provided a series of examples of the ease and rapidity of production
of organic substances by the dye industry. On the other hand,
except in very few exceptional cases, British and French production,
although we cast no reflection on the energy or skill of any concerned,
was exceedingly slow and costly by comparison. The Germans used
mustard gas in July, 1917. We identified it a few days afterwards.
But the first fruits of allied production were not in the field for
eleven months. British material was not used until a month or two before
the Armistice. Further, in this case, we were convinced of the value
of the substance almost from the first day of its use by the enemy.
We will endeavour to throw light upon this in our review of production.
The period of intensive chemical warfare may be regarded as the proof
of the German experiment of 1915-1916. Shed of their trial nature,
the chemical weapons played a logical and increasingly dominating part
in the campaign. They were surely destined to play a much more prominent
part had the period of stabilised warfare continued. Projector cloud
gas would have assumed greater importance as a casualty producer.
But we will leave such considerations for a future chapter.
CHEMICAL WARFARE ORGANISATIONS
We have no desire nor intention to give a detailed historical
account of the above. The ramifications, of Allied organisations
were so numerous, the number of persons concerned so great,
the sacrifices made so heavy, that only an exceedingly
lengthy account could hope to do justice to individuals.
In addition, such an account would not serve our purpose.
We wish to show, as briefly as possible, how the different Allied
organisations were bound up in an organic way with the campaign,
how they compared with those of the enemy, and what lesson
the comparison may contain for the future.
Two facts stand out in such a comparison. We are struck with
the extreme simplicity of the German organisations, as we know them,
and the great complexity and multiplicity of the Allied departments
as we saw them. We must admit from the beginning that we know
least of the German home organisations for research and production,
but our knowledge is sufficient to reveal their simplicity.
The Inter-Allied Commission of Control may, and certainly should,
obtain full information, but at present the matter stands as follows.
German Research.--The Germans relied upon two main and very strong
centres for research. They have already been indicated as the
Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, under the direction of Professor Haber,
and the enormous research organisations of the I.G. There are various
references to internal gas organisation in captured documents.
It appears that they received their final form late in 1917.
A great gas school (Heeres-Gaschule) was instituted in Berlin where
there were also central depots for anti-gas inspection and material.
Rather earlier than this the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute was definitely
appointed as the official research centre. The War Ministry had
a chemical section named A.10, which dealt with gas questions.
It is rumoured, and there is strong reason to believe, that the I.G.
was largely staffed by officers of the Reserve before the war.
Whatever their pre-war associations, if any, with the War Ministry,
hostilities must have found them keenly alive to the possibilities
of their unique research and organic chemical producing facilities.
It is inconceivable that this military personnel should not have
greatly assisted the I.G. in its operations, inventions and general
assistance for the army.
It appears that the subdivision of work left the, direction of
chemical research in Berlin, possibly at the above Institute,
while the bulk of the work of preparing the new compounds,
and developing manufacturing processes for approved substances,
occurred in the laboratories of the I.G.
Leverkusen.--We know, for example, that a very large number
of substances was produced at Leverkusen and samples forwarded
to Berlin, of which only a few were finally approved for production.
The physiological work and field tests were certainly associated
with the Berlin organisation, but it is not clear how much
of this work occurred within the I.G. An Allied mission
to Leverkusen reported as follows:--"It was emphatically
stated that no means of testing the products were resorted
to beyond inhala-tion and testing the effect of the substances
on the staff, but this statement must be accepted with reserve."
This is particularly so as we know that large numbers of
respirator-drums had been made in this factory, and that a gas
school existed at Leverkusen in 1915.
A member of another Allied mission was informed by one of the staff
at Leverkusen that the authorities there were well aware
of the difficulties in chemical warfare, apart from production,
for they had some experience in the designing and testing of
chemical shell. It maybe that the German Government relied upon
the I.G. for such work in the early stages of the chemical war,
pending the development of official organisation.
When we remember, however, that at Leverkusen alone there
was a staff of 1500 technical and commercial specialists,
apart from thousands of workpeople, before the war,
and that the latter were increased by 1500 during the war,
we find it difficult to place a limit on the services which
might have been rendered by this research centre alone.
The opinion of the members of the Hartley Commission was,
that much thought and attention had been given to chemical
warfare by the chemists of the Company.
 A post-armistice inter-allied mission of experts, to the Rhine
chemical factories, March, 1919.
Hochst.--A great volume of chemical warfare research occurred
also at Hochst. "The admission was made that the research
department of the factory was continuously employed during the war
on the preparation of substances suitable for chemical warfare,
many hundreds being prepared and sent to Berlin for examination.
The firm employed 300 academically trained chemists in peace time,
but during the war many more were engaged, partly for research
and partly because all shell filling was carried out under
the supervision of trained chemists."
Ludwigshafen.--The most influential branch of the I.G. was,
undoubtedly, the Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik. It might
have been expected, as they shared largely in production,
that a considerable amount of chemical warfare research would occur
at these works, but this was emphatically denied to Allied missions.
It may be, however, that as the nitrogen fixation enterprise
was developed there, requiring a large amount of technical
development and control, this was considered a sufficient
contribution to the general cause.
Early Formulation of Policy.--In examining what signs we have
of the organisation and policy underlying chemical warfare
research and production in Germany, we are struck by the fact
that all the substances used with such dire effect against us
during the war must have been approved for production by the
Government at a relatively early date. The following table,
assembled from information supplied by the German factories,
brings this point out very clearly.
War Chemical. Factory. Production Began. in the Field,
Diphosgene Hochst Sept., 1916 Summer, 1915
(Green Cross) Leverkusen June, 1915
Mustard Gas Leverkusen Spring, 1917 July, 1917
Diphenyl- Hochst May, 1917 July, 1917
Diphenyl- A.G.F.A. ? Feb., 1918 June, 1911
Ethyl-dichlor- Hochst Aug., 1917 March, 1918
We have chosen the later products to establish the point, for it
is self-evident for the earlier products, some of which were made
before the war.
Movements of Personnel.--The movements of German chemical personnel give
us a clue as to the main tendencies in their chemical warfare policy.
The factories were called upon to produce, as we have already shown,
towards the end of 1914, but this production largely involved
the use of substances already manufactured on a certain scale.
Large scale production of the more advanced types of war chemical
seems to have been directly stimulated by the Hindenburg programme,
in connection with which the Companies withdrew large numbers of their
skilled workers from the front.
German Simplicity of Organisation.--We can safely conclude
from the above that Germany required no cumbersome government
mechanism for the preparation of new war chemicals,
for the semi-industrial work in developing processes for
approved substances, nor for their production. By relying on
the I.G., the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, and probably some other
organisation for field and physiological tests, Germany escaped
the necessity for comprehensive government organisation,
the development of which was such a handicap to Allied countries.
It is certainly very suggestive that we only met,
in the field, substances approved before the summer of 1917.
It is with great interest and a certain amount of apprehension
that we speculate upon the research developments after that period
with which the war did not make us immediately acquainted.
If this early period produced such effective results as mustard gas,
Blue Cross compounds, and the different cloud substances,
what hidden surprises were matured in the later period?
This feature of simplicity, of linking up a new war with an old peace,
activity was paralleled somewhat in the field organisation.
We have seen how Germany created special formations for
cloud attacks, but for a time practically abandoned them,
throwing most of her chemical warfare production into shell.
In other words, she substituted a normal weapon, the artillery.
We, on the other hand, largely impelled by the enforced
simplicity of our production, tended more towards the development
of special formations and special weapons for cloud production,
but with such success that the German Pioneer formations,
after being practically dropped, found a use in developing
and using our new weapon, the Livens Projector.
German Organisation at the Front;--The Gas Regiment.--It is probable
that the earliest form of German organisation at the front consisted
in the liaison between Professor Haber and the German G.H.Q. It
will be remembered that Ludendorff, discussing cloud and shell gas,
refers to this co-operation, stating: "Geheimrat Haber proved
of valuable service in this connection with the use of gas."
It was also rumoured soon after the first German attack that the
organisation and preparation of the latter were under the scientific
guidance of this renowned Professor. The attack was carried out by
the 35th and 36th Pioneer Regiments, each furnished with chemically
trained officers who were specially detailed for gas warfare.
The importance of protection was realised very early, and a gas
school for officers of all armies was organised at Leverkusen
for training in protection. We cannot but regard it as significant
that Leverkusen is also the site of the enormous Bayer organic
chemical works which played such a large part in poison gas production.
The school dealt mainly with protection.
 _My War Memories_, page 338.
 A branch of the great German dye combine, the Interessen Gemeinschaft,
known as the I.G.
Early German Gas School.--Apparently, at the end of November, 1916,
special gas staffs were created and attached provisionally to the
headquarters of formations entrusted with large scale gas operations.
In addition, these staffs had the normal routine function of
supervising inspection and instruction in gas warfare at the front.
At about this time each regiment or larger unit was given a gas officer
(gasschutzoffizier) with similar duties to those outlined above.
In other words, the arrangement was generalised throughout the army.
This officer was assisted by non-commissioned officers and men
specially chosen for the purpose in the smaller units. The great need
for these staffs is brought out in German official documents.
New Gas Regiments;--Gas Shell Experts.--In 1917 two new
Pioneer battalions, the 37th and 38th respectively, were created
for the express purpose of carrying out projector attacks.
These developments in organisation, both advisory and combatant,
led, at about this time, to the centralisation of the gas services
at the front under a Kommandeur der Gastruppen at G.H.Q. It
would thus appear that the Germans achieved the centralisation
of their gas services some months later than ourselves.
Further developments in organisation, of which we are aware,
were connected with two main tendencies in German gas warfare.
In the first place, the vast employment of gas shell led the Germans
to create special gas experts on the Divisional artillery staffs.
We have this on the authority of an order by Ludendorff dated
June 16th, 1918. This gas shell expert was not necessarily an
imported specialist, but was usually a specially trained officer
chosen from the staff in question. This was a very important move,
for it gave the artillery a paternal interest in gas shell.
This artillery specialist maintained a very close liaison
with the Divisional Gas Officer.
Inspection of Protective Masks and Method.--The second tendency
was towards stricter protective standards and inspection.
The gas inspection centre at Berlin was given more responsibilities
in the field and the protection of horses, dogs and carrier
pigeons received great emphasis.
British Field Organisation;--"Breach" Organisations.--Our own
field development followed very similar lines. The immediate
need in April, 1915, was for organisations on the front
to advise formations on temporary methods of protection,
to ascertain quickly the nature of any new German chemical attack,
and to provide special means of examining the treatment of
the new kind of casualty. These were "breach organisations,"
so to speak, countering the immediate effects of enemy attacks
while more comprehensive and permanent cadres were created
to absorb them. The personnel of these breach organisations
was largely composed of chemists already at the front who
had in some cases taken part in the first German attacks.
Efforts were soon on foot to mobilise British chemists for
offensive purposes. So remote from the old army standards
and training were the conceptions of the new scientific warfare,
that there was no scientific cadre or outstanding scientific
soldier to take over the direction and organisation of these
matters at the front or at home. Accordingly, in June,
1915, Brigadier-General C. H. Foulkes, C.M.G., D.S.O.
(then Major, R.E.) was given the difficult task of assembling
and training an offensive gas formation, and acting as
Gas Adviser to G.H.Q. The Special Companies thus created
have already been referred to in quotations from despatches.
In addition to this combatant personnel a number of
specialists and advisory organisations came into being.
Additional gas officers were appointed by various divisions,
and chemical advisers by higher formations.
Central Laboratory.--A central laboratory was instituted at G.H.Q. under
the late Colonel W. Watson, C.M.G., F.R.S., which did particularly valuable
work in connection with the rapid identification of new enemy chemicals.
With the development of gas shell, the chemical advisers included this
subject in their province. Reference must also be made to the medical
and physiological side.
New Type of Casualty.--After the introduction of gas warfare
the army was always faced with the possibility that some
entirely new chemical would produce a new type of casualty
which would require special and sometimes unusual treatment.
A new element was thus introduced into army medical work.
The effects of a new gas used in large quantities on the front
was often just as serious a threat to organisation as the sudden
development of a strange epidemic. Reaction to meet these new
conditions took the form of the development of medical research
organisations at home, and of the appointment of a special medical
and physiological advisory staff incorporated later in the Directorate
of Gas Services. It was thus possible, after any enemy gas attack,
and with little delay, to institute inquiries with regard
to treatment of casualties, stimulate special investigations,
and prepare for any reorganisation in personnel and equipment, and,
in general, introduce satisfactory alert conditions throughout
the medical organisation along the whole of the Allied front.
In this connection the effective liaison between the medical
specialists of the British and French armies must be mentioned.
Directorate of Gas Services.--These various services were centralised
in the Directorate of Gas Services, in the Spring of 1916,
under Major-General H. F. Thuillier, C.B., C.M.G., R.E. It is
interesting to note that although in their rear organisations
for research and supply the French preceded us in the adoption
of a logical symmetrical arrangement, yet in the field we were
the first to produce the centralised chemical warfare service
which was so essential.
British Home Organisations;--The Royal Society.--After the battle
of the Marne, Germany rapidly realised the need for scientific
and industrial mobilisation for the new stage into which the war
had passed. Many signs and definite statements by Falkenhayn
and others in authority have shown us how this realisation
found outlet in various schemes for research and production.
The need for scientific attention to various war problems
was also realised in England, and found expression in the
mobilisation of prominent scientists by the Royal Society,
which constituted a number of committees to deal with specific
activities and to assist various Ministries or administrative
government departments in connection with scientific matters.
Royal Society Chemical Sub-Committee.--The Chemical Sub-Committee
included such prominent names as Lord Rayleigh, Sir William Ramsay and
Sir Oliver Lodge. Retaliation, decided on early in May, 1915, was reflected
in organisation. Lord Kitchener entrusted Colonel Jackson, C.M.G., R.E.
(later Major-General Sir Louis Jackson, K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G., R.E.),
then in charge of a fortification section of the War Office,
with the task of examining and taking action on the possibilities
of retaliation, and a liaison with the above chemical committee
of the Royal Society was soon established. Protection became a part
of the duties of the Medical Services and was placed under the direct
control of Colonel, afterwards Sir William Horrocks, who became chairman
of the specially appointed Anti-Gas Committee. Further, a little later,
the Chemical Sub-Committee above referred to became an advisory body to
Colonel Jackson. This was the origin of the Chemical Warfare Department,
but it was destined to pass through many difficult and hampering
transformations before reaching its final, more or less efficient
and symmetrical form.
The Trench Warfare Department.--With the formation of the Ministry of
Munitions late in May, 1915, Colonel Jackson's section was transferred to it.
At this stage there was definite recognition of the absolute need of keeping
chemical warfare research, design, and supply under one head. Probably this
was the chief reason which prompted Lord Kitchener, then Secretary of State
for War, to agree to the transference of this section to another Ministry,
and consent to the birth of the Trench Warfare Department.
Scientific Advisory Committee;--Commercial Advisory Committee.--Even at
this stage activities were growing and government organisation was found
necessary to cover such functions as in Germany were rendered unnecessary
by the existence of the I.G. It became clear that the new department
would require strong permanent scientific advice, and this was found
in the formation of the Scientific Advisory Committee. This included
the most active members of the former relevant Royal Society Committee,
amongst whom were Professor A. W. Crossley, the Secretary,
and Professors H. B. Baker, J. F. Thorpe, and Sir George Beilby,
all of whom rendered great services in the later development of this
new branch of warfare. A parallel Commercial Advisory Committee
was appointed, composed of representatives of some of the leading
manufacturers of the country.
Split Between Research and Supply.--We cannot follow in detail the many
fluctuations experienced in the organisation of the department.
They represent a constant struggle between a definitely expressed
policy of centralisation and symmetry for supply and research,
and circumstances imposed upon the department by the reorganisation
and fusion of Ministries and departments. There were brief periods,
notably at the commencement and in the final stages, when the desired
centralised organisation was approached, but there were also periods
when there was a complete split between research and supply with feeble
and unsatisfactory liaison between the two. Speaking generally,
the break between research and supply occurred in December, 1915,
when the Trench Warfare Department was split up into two parts.
These were the Trench Warfare Research Department, in which was
included the Scientific Advisory Committee, and, shortly afterwards,
changed its name to that of the Chemical Advisory Committee,
and the Trench Warfare Supply Department. The relationships
between those two departments remained practically unchanged until
the formation of the Chemical Warfare Department in October, 1917.
This statement must be qualified, however, by a reference to the
services rendered by Professor, later Sir John Cadman, K.C.M.G., in
bringing about this liaison, not only with supply in England,
but also with that in France.
During the early period the Royal Society Committee of Physiology
became active and was later very closely co-ordinated with the
Chemical Warfare Department, as the Chemical Warfare Medical Committee.
Munitions Inventions Department.--Another feature which is worthy of notice
because it was common to Allied organisations other than the British,
and because it formed part of the slow realisation of the essential
unity of chemical warfare activities, was the duplication of effort
by the Munitions Inventions Department. Suggestions which could only
have value when considered as part of the definitely directed chemical
warfare policy were constantly raised with the Inventions Department,
but this difficulty was overcome later by the growing importance
of chemical warfare and the effecting of a liaison between the two
departments by Colonel Crossley.
Imperial College of Science.--During the early period the Imperial College
of Science rendered great services by assisting in research.
It continued to do so during the rest of the war, but was later
associated with a large number of British university chemical
and scientific departments in pursuing a huge programme of chemical
warfare research. We can only make passing reference to the development
of the training and experimental grounds which formed such an
important part in assisting decisions on chemical warfare policy.
The Porton ground, however, was a model of its kind, a pioneer
amongst Allied experimental grounds, and a tribute to the creative
and administrative efforts of Lt.-Colonel Crossley, C.M.G., C.B.E.,
who was its commandant from its inception to the end of the war.
The Chemical Warfare Department.--The growing importance of
chemical warfare, the vigorous chemical initiative assumed by Germany
in the summer of 1917, and various other reasons led to reorganisation
of the Chemical Warfare services in this country in October, 1917,
and the Chemical Warfare Department, under Major-General Thullier,
formerly Director of Gas Services, B.E.F., was constituted.
This reorganisation witnessed a great increase in research
and other activities of the department and a still greater
mobilisation of the chemists of the country. Although this
change witnessed further centralisation by the incorporation
of the Anti-Gas Department, thereby settling once and for all
the inherent association between offensive and defensive research,
a fact which had been apparent to many long before, yet it still ignored
the fundamental connection between offensive research and supply.
This had been recognised in French organisation as early as 1915,
yet we did not reach the ideal solution even at the end of the war.
The Anti-Gas Department.--We have mentioned the origin of the
Anti-Gas Department. Although separate in organisation from chemical
warfare research, yet the remarkable work and personality of the late
Lt.-Colonel E. F. Harrison, C.M.G., overcame the disadvantages by
energetic liaison and a great capacity for the internal organisation.
General Hartley has paid a tribute which we cannot refrain from repeating:
"Colonel Harrison was one of the great discoveries of the war.
It is often stated that he was the inventor of the box respirator,
but this he would have been the first to deny. His great merit
was as an organiser. He gathered round him an enthusiastic group
of young chemists and physicists, and the box respirator represents
the joint result of their researches, carried out under his
inspiration and controlled by his admirable practicable judgment.
He organised the manufacture of the respirator on a large scale,
and it is a great testimony to his foresight and energy that in spite
of all the difficulties of production, the supplies promised to France
never failed. Fifty million respirators were produced by the department,
and of these nineteen million were box respirators."
Anti-gas research was at first centred in the R.A.M. College, Millbank,
and from the beginning of 1917 in the Physiological Institute,
University College, London. The work done in research and production
not only protected the whole of the British Army, but formed the backbone
of American and a large part of Italian protection. Further, the sacrifices
made in connection with this work are not sufficiently known.
Numbers of young scientists sacrificed their health and sometimes life,
in carrying out the critical tests upon which the safety of millions
of Englishmen and Allies depended.
Designs Committee.--We cannot leave this branch of the subject without
referring to the Chemical Warfare Designs Committee. An important trend
in chemical warfare was its growing independence of the normal weapons of war,
and its special requirements when adapted for use with both the normal
and newer types. This tendency found expression in the above Committee
under the direction of Professor Jocelyn Field Thorpe. The development
of satisfactory chemical shell was an enormous problem, and the importance
of entirely new forms of the chemical weapon will be brought out in dealing
with the limitation of armaments.
French Organisation.--French development followed very similar lines.
From April 28th, 1915, a Commission of military representatives and
scientists was organised under General Curmer. This gave place in June
to a Chemical Warfare Research Committee under M. Weiss, Directeur des
Mines au Ministere des Traveaux Publics. In August, 1915, three special
Committees were formed; one under M. Kling for problems from the front,
whose organisation was responsible for a volume of exceedingly reliable
identifications of enemy chemicals of great use to the Allies;
another under M. Moureu for offensive research, whose brilliant organic
investigation characterised later French developments, and the other
under M. Vincent, for research on protection. But, in the meantime,
the importance of gas shell was impressed upon the French and,
on the 1st July, 1915, this organisation passed into M. Albert Thomas's
new Ministere de L'Artillerie et des Munitions. Manufacture passed into
the hands of the Directeur du Materiel Chimique de Guerre. In September,
1915, these sections were centralised under General Ozil, attached to
the same Ministry. General Ozil's service was strongly supported
by a number of eminent French scientists, and achieved unusual success
in the face of great practical difficulties.
A very close liaison was maintained with the army, and the initiative,
energy, and devotion of all concerned cannot be too highly praised.
In production alone the difficulties were enormous. There was no
highly organised dye industry available. The prewar German monopoly
had seen to that. Elaborate organisations and continuous research
work under difficult conditions were necessary to replace the smooth,
running normal activities of the great German dye combine.
The salient points in French production are dealt with more fully
in another chapter.
In research and protection French activities were no less handicapped
and just as creditable. The protection of the French armies was largely
achieved through the genius and tireless industry of Professor Paul Lebeau.
Quick to realise the need of retaliation against the new German weapon,
the French developed their chemical offensive and defensive
with characteristic elan and intuition. Contributing largely
to Allied research, they took the lead in Inter-Allied co-operation
and liaison, and their activities in this field were due to much
worthier causes than mere geographical position.
Italian Development.--The Italians were alive to the importance of
chemical warfare. World famous names such as those of Senator Paterno
and Professor Villavecchia were associated with their organisation.
Once again, however, although not lacking in invention and initiative,
they were continually hampered by production, which imposed such
grave disadvantages upon them as to endanger seriously the success
of their campaign. The success of the great German offensive against
Italy in the autumn of 1917 was largely ascribed to the German use
of gas of such types and in such amounts that the Italian protective
appliances were outmanoeuvred. Further, in spite of the offensive
qualities of the Italian gas organisation under Col. Penna,
lack of supplies prevented large scale gas retaliation, so essential
in maintaining gas morale.
Towards the end of the war, when the French and British production improved,
and with the entry of America and the promise of supplies therefrom,
it was possible to assist the Italians from Allied sources,
and arrangements were made to supply them with the British Respirator,
to assist them in the development of the Livens Projector, to supply large
quantities of mustard and other gases, and to assist them in production.
The use of the British box respirator was undoubtedly a great factor
in repelling the Austrian offensive of June, 1918. Their experimental
fields and research organisations were particularly well staffed, and,
backed by production, Italian chemical genius would have been capable
of producing very serious results.
Supply Organisations.--What a marked contrast between the organisation
required for German and Allied chemical warfare production!
Such organisation implies cadres and arrangements for co-operation
with research organisations, for semi-scale work, commercial functions,
priority, raw material supply, transport, and all their concomitants.
In Germany, the self-contained dye industry simplified all these functions.
The Government addressed itself to one producing organisation which
was responsible for most of the relevant research. Whole Government
departments were rendered unnecessary by this centralised production.
British Supply Organisation.--In England the situation was
entirely different. Even before the advent of mustard gas the Government
was compelled to apply to at least twenty contractors. The products
required were foreign to the normal activities of many of these.
They required assistance in raw materials, transport, technical methods,
either the result of the work of other factories or of research.
The latter again involved complex official organisation, cumbrous even
if efficiently carried out. This at once introduced difficulties.
The centre of gravity of supply was in government offices instead
of in the centres of production. Much depended upon the co-ordination
of the official departments. Quite apart from the Government plants
finally engaged in chemical warfare production, more than fifty plants
were used in private organisations, of which a very high percentage
were entirely new.
Allied Handicaps.--The functions of the allied Government supply
departments were or should have been much more than those of an
individual negotiating a contract. Owing to the fact that these were
new plants, and that the products were foreign to the production
of many of the firms concerned, two alternatives had to be faced.
Either the technical and service departments of each firm had
to be considerably strengthened, or else a special organisation
had to cover these functions by employing a considerable government
technical and liaison personnel. For reasons of secrecy and general
efficiency the latter procedure evolved, but neither represented
the ideal solution.
The German Solution.--This was the German arrangement in which these
functions were all embodied in the centralised producing organisation,
the I.G. The German Government took the role of a pure contractor,
the only additional function being the choice of product and method,
a question of policy. This implied the existence of a Government
experimental organisation, but purely for this purpose.
Departmental Difficulties.--The Allied task would have been
much simpler if the only war weapon had been a chemical one,
in which case an efficient organisation could have been decided
upon at first, and need have suffered no very radical changes.
As it was, however, the British supply organisation had to
administer some seventy plants, which were really in private hands,
and found its chief difficulties quite apart from the external
perplexities of the problem. They arose in its relationships
with other Government departments.
Allied Success Against Odds.--Taking a broad view of the case,
although nobody who knew the facts could regard our poison gas
production with anything but dismay, except in a few cases,
yet the main feeling was one of amazement that we succeeded
as well as we did with these entirely new substances.
The whole story of chemical warfare supply amongst the Allies is
one of devoted effort by all concerned, against overwhelming odds,
and although the level of results was poor compared with Germany,
yet we find here and there brilliant examples of Allied
adaptability and tenacity amongst which the French development
of mustard gas stands pre-eminent.
What we have already said about supply organisation may be summed up
in one sentence. The Germans were already organised to produce.
We had to create Government departments to administer a large
number of plants in private hands, and they had to cope not only
with the external difficulties of the situation but with the almost
overwhelming difficulties of internal organisation. The checquered
career of the British supply department provides a good example.
The French and Americans suffered less than ourselves from
these troubles, the latter having the benefit of the combined
experience of the other Allies.
Allied Lack of Vision in Production.--A survey of the earliest supply
organisation of this country reveals another difficulty which later events
have obscured. Few people realised the developments which chemical warfare
would produce. The early production of chemicals for gas warfare was
grouped under some such designation as trench warfare stores, and graded
in order of importance, from the point of view of supply organisation
with catapults and spring guns, flame projectors and body shields!
It is no unfair criticism to state that hard facts rather than vision forced
the importance of chemical warfare upon those responsible for munition
production in the early stages of the war. Chemical warfare production
remained under the Trench Warfare Supply Department for many months,
where it was one of ten Trench Warfare sections. The vicissitudes of trench
warfare supply are too numerous and complicated to be dealt with here,
but chemical warfare supply has suffered accordingly.
British Lag in Organisation.--Examining Allied organisations,
we find that the French and Americans approached this ideal
solution more rapidly than ourselves, and we can trace in our
own development a number of unsuccessful attempts to reach this
centralised control, although the last configuration, under the direction
of Major-General H. F. Thuillier, was the nearest approach.
French organisation for supply provides another example of their
national characteristic of logical thinking and love of symmetry.
As early as September, 1915, the French centralised their research
organisation, the Inspection des Etudes et Experience Chimiques,
and their supply organisation, the Direction du Materiel Chimique
de Guerre, in their Service Chimique de Guerre under General Ozil.
French and American Characteristics.--Their early concentration on
gas shell shows that this symmetrical organisation was due not only
to the above characteristic but also to vision in war development.
American supply organisation again provides evidence of the
national characteristic. They had no I.G. but they had plenty of money
and material, and the total of Allied experience in production.
They therefore proceeded at once to build an enormous producing
centre known as Edgewood Arsenal. We refer to this later.
The tremendous potentialities of this Arsenal will readily he seen,
although they did not become effective during the war.
It would be poor testimony to the tremendous efforts and sacrifices
made by the various firms and officials connected with chemical
warfare to leave the matter at this stage, or to make a minute
analysis of the different internal causes for lack of success.
We may say that although the efforts of all concerned were
beyond praise, yet they were so initially handicapped that it was
practically impossible even to approach the German efficiency.
In France and England we were suffering from the faults of past years,
our lack of attention to the application of science to industry.
The Americans would also have suffered, for they were in the same plight,
but they adopted the drastic solution of Edgewood Arsenal. As we
show later, however, this solution was really only a very necessary
and valuable attempt to treat the symptom rather than the disease.
We cannot regard the problem as settled for any of these countries.
If it is, then the outlook is very poor.
Inter-Allied Chemical Warfare Liaison.--Chemical warfare offered,
in theory, a splendid opportunity for co-ordination amongst
the Allies, The new methods, unhampered by tradition, seemed,
at first sight, admirably suited for exploitation against the enemy
by an allied Generalissimo and staff. Co-ordination never reached
this stage, although strong liaison organisations were developed.
Inter-allied research conferences occurred periodically in Paris,
where decisions for co-operation were taken after full discussion
of allied work. The continuity of these relationships was maintained
by an active secretariat on which each ally was represented.
The contact, so close between actual allied scientific workers
in this field, became less evident in the application of their
results to field warfare, for several reasons. In the first place,
close scientific contact in research was replaced by the actual field
relationships of the armies, and, as is well known, the central
inter-allied command did not materialise until the spring of 1918,
and even then it was only possible to apply the new principle
to the actual battlefield. The traditional differences between.
the methods of the different services of each ally still existed
to a large extent, and they found expression in type of armament,
equipment, and military standards, such as, for example, gun calibres
and shell design, to which chemical warfare had to conform.
No inter-allied gas mask materialised, although this would have been
of inestimable advantage. Probably the example of most complete
co-ordination occurred on the supply side, where absence of the above
traditional difficulties and the crying need to make the most
of available raw materials compelled a very close co-ordination.
Inter-Allied Supply.--The writer was responsible for initiating,
in 1917, an Inter-Allied Chemical Supply Committee, whose function
was to pool effectively the allied raw materials, and to arrange
their distribution in accordance with allied programmes,
the exchange of which implied a considerable step.
Later this Committee became one of a number, similarly constituted,
forming part of the Inter-Allied Munitions Council.
Thinking over the difficulties of the inter-allied supply, now that the
emergenices of the situation have passed, an important contrast emerges.
After three years of war, and although protected by the powerful arm
of the blockade, we were, still resorting, for chemical warfare supply,
to measures which, compared with the German methods, were complicated,
clumsy, and inefficient. This was, in a sense, forced upon us by
the number of the allies, and the fact that they held the outer lines.
But it is easily forgotten that Germany also had a number of allies,
and that Germany supply organisation was sufficient to feed them all.
Nature of Chemical Warfare Research.--So, much has been vaguely said,
and is vaguely known, about research in chemical warfare that a brief
analysis will be of value.
Discovery of New Substances.--Research for this purpose has
a number of very distinct functions, The most obvious is the
discovery of new substances. But there are others in connection
with which research work represents a much greater volume.
Very few new substances which found valuable application
during the war were revealed by chemical warfare research.
The bulk of the important substances were already known as such,
although their importance for war was probably not realised.
It is most important to emphasise the fact that even in
the future, should there be no direct attempts to reveal
new chemical warfare substances, they will undoubtedly arise
as a normal outcome of research, even if, without exception,
every chemist in the world became a most pronounced pacifist.
A valuable substance once discovered or decided upon, however,
whole series of research investigations become necessary.
Technical Method of Preparation;--Filling Problem;--Protection;--
Half-Scale Investigation.--The substance must be prepared in the most
efficient manner for manufacture, which may not be the mode of its discovery.
It must be used in shells, cylinders, or some other war chemical device.
Each device represents a different filling problem, different difficulties
with regard to contact of the war chemical and the envelope of the container.
If a projectile is in question the ballistics become of importance.
More important than any of these, except production, is the question
of protection. It is axiomatic that an army proposing to use a new offensive
chemical must be protected against it. It may, therefore, be necessary
to modify the existing mask or protective appliance, or to create an
entirely new one. If research reveals the necessity for the latter course
of action it may provide sufficient reason for abandoning the substance.
In addition, according to productive difficulties, it may be necessary
to undertake comprehensive and very expensive research on half-scale
methods for production. It is impossible in many cases to proceed directly
from the laboratory process to large scale manufacture without serious
risk of failure.
Two Classes of Research.--Broadly, these research functions form two classes,
those concerned with policy and approval of a substance and those
concerned with work which follows automatically upon such approval.
There must be, of course, a certain amount of overlapping and liaison
between the two classes.
Herein lay one of the great advantages enjoyed by the Germans. Their great
producing organisation, the I.G., was able to take over automatically
certain of these research functions, in particular all those with
regard to preparation and production, even of protective appliances.
The Government reserved what we have called the policy functions,
and was responsible, we assume, for the mass, of physiological and design
research which must always precede approval or a decision on policy.
Signs were not lacking, further, that the I.G. was even employed on certain
occasions for this latter type of research.
Conclusion.--From the facts at our disposal there can be no
doubt that the total material facilities at the disposal of
the Allies for chemical warfare investigation were considerably
more extensive and expensive than those of Germany with the one
notable exception of trained technical organic chemists.
It is very doubtful whether the German field experiments were
as largely provided for as those of the Allies. When we think
of the French grounds at Versailles and Entressin, the British
at Porton, the American grounds in France and in America,
and the Italian organisations, there can hardly be any doubt that
the total German facilities were much smaller. Under the actual
circumstances of the war, however, it was difficult to develop
more co-operation than was possible by a very close liaison.
The fact that all the experimental developments from these
grounds required special modification to meet the peculiar needs
of artillery and other equipment for each ally, prevented the
adoption of uniform types of projectile or other appliances.
Even uniform shell marking was found impracticable.
The "Outer and Inner Lines."--The Allied situation compelled the
multiplication of cumbersome organisations in the different countries.
Lack of a strong organic chemical industry placed each ally at a
considerable disadvantage, compared with Germany, in the development
of such organisations. Using a strategic comparison, we can say
that Germany not only possessed the "inner lines" in the chemical war,
but an exceptionally efficient system to exploit them, in the shape
of the great I.G.
THE STRUGGLE FOR THE INITIATIVE
Meaning of the Chemical Initiative.--The German invasion of Belgium
in 1914 was a direct appeal to the critical factor of surprise in war.
By disregarding their pledge, a "scrap of paper," they automatically
introduced into this attack the elements of military surprise.
We, the enemy, were unprepared, and a complete rearrangement
of dispositions became necessary.
A recent writer has admirably summarised the facts.
 A. F. Pollard. _A Short History of the Great War_. Methuen, 1920.
"Germany began the war on the Western front before it was declared,
and on 1-2 August, German cavalry crossed the French frontier
between Luxembourg and Switzerland at three points in the direction
of Longwy, Luneville, and Belfort. But these were only feints
designed to prolong the delusion that Germany would attack
on the only front legitimately open to warfare and to delay
the reconstruction of the French defence required to meet
the real offensive. The reasons for German strategy were
conclusive to the General Staff, and they were frankly explained
by Bethmann-Hollweg to the British Ambassador. There was no
time to lose if France was to be defeated before an effective
Russian move, and time would be lost by a frontal attack.
The best railways and roads from Berlin to Paris ran through Belgium;
the Vosges protected more than half of the French frontier
south of Luxembourg, Belfort defended the narrow gap between
them and Switzerland, and even the wider thirty miles'
gap between the northern slopes of the Vosges and Luxembourg
was too narrow for the deployment of Germany's strength;
the way was also barred by the elaborate fortifications
of Verdun, Toul, and Nancy. Strategy pointed conclusively to
the Belgium route, and its advantages were clinched by the fact
that France was relying on the illusory scrap of paper."
The first German cloud gas attack was the second attempt to gain
the decisive initiative, by the unauthorised use of a surprise
of an entirely different nature.
Modern writers are at great pains to establish how the world war,
although leaving the final function of the infantry unchanged,
rendered them and their staff subservient to mass munition production.
Mr. H. G. Wells explains this to the Kaiser in a delightful imaginary
interview between that august person and an hypothetical manufacturer.
Professor Pollard tells us how, when the first German surprise had failed,
the war became "a test of endurance rather than generalship."
We will leave a clear field for any military challenge to such
a point of view. Our objection is that it is not fully developed.
The war was still a test of generalship, that of directed production.
This war has shown, and future wars may unfortunately confirm,
that the type and secrecy of production is as important as its volume.
There will still be the purely military surprise and manoeuvre,
but superimposed, co-ordinated, and sometimes predominant will appear
the technical surprise, the result of the generalship of production.
 _War and the Future_. Cassel, 1917.
Such a surprise is achieved by the sudden introduction on a large
scale of some entirely new war weapon, capable of achieving
a strategic or tactical objective in an unsuspected manner.
Although the general idea of this second type of surprise existed
before the war, particularly in naval warfare, it required
the coincidence of the Great European War and modern scientific
development to demonstrate its great importance on land.
Thus the first German gas attack found the opposing troops
entirely unprotected, not merely through the absence of a mask,
but in training and technical discipline. The case is quoted of an
indignant gassed soldier who, in an early gas attack, when reproached
for not protecting himself, thereupon opened his tunic and revealed
a mask firmly tied round his chest! It is a far cry from such a case
to the inculcation of strict gas discipline into an army of millions.
The attack reaped the corresponding results in casualties and morale.
It found the opposing medical services unequipped, not only to treat
the new type of casualty, but even to determine its nature rapidly
and efficiently. In short, it found the enemy utterly unprepared,
either in theory or practice, to counter its effect. The importance
of this second type of surprise lies in its peculiar potentialities.
It may affect a given military result with an extraordinarily
small expenditure of material, energy, and eventually human life,
when compared with the older military weapons. Chemical warfare is
a weapon, par excellence, to achieve this second type of surprise.
Therein lies its chief importance.
As a result, the history of chemical warfare becomes one of
continual attempts, on both sides, to achieve surprise and to
counter it by some accurate forecast in protective methods.
It is a struggle for the initiative.
More than this, as the use of chemical warfare becomes an organic
part of operations, as it did during the war, these operations
become correspondingly dependent upon conditions imposed
by the chemical campaign. One can imagine the case of an army
unprotected against a new gas, aware that the enemy is ready to
employ the latter, compelled to postpone some huge offensive until
its protective methods were equal to countering the new chemical.
General Fries, the American authority, states, in reference
to mustard gas, and the Northern offensives in 1917:
"It is no disparagement of the British, nor of any one else,
to say that they held up the date of their attack for two weeks
pending further investigations into the effects of this new gas."
Ludendorff, referring to the German offensive in March, 1918,
tells us, "Our artillery relied on gas for its effect.
Up till the morning of the 20th strength and direction
(of the wind) were by no means favourable, and it seemed
almost necessary to put off the attack." Such a point becomes
of greater importance as the influence of other arms decreases.
If we assume international arrangements for the limitation
of other types of armament in the future, chemical warfare
at once stands out as decisive.
Controlling Factors;--Rapid Manufacture.--Certain well-defined
factors hold a controlling position in the chemical initiative.
Before any chemical discovery can be used for surprise on the front
a second step must occur; this is large scale manufacture.
This period is vital to surprise. Success in chemical
warfare is largely dependent on secrecy, which means
achieving production in the shortest possible time, and this
is particularly important at the commencement of hostilities.
Throughout the war the Germans possessed this advantage and,
in the future, unless certain steps are taken, it will be
theirs again. A very simple example will suffice to show
the importance of the combination of these two factors.
Let us assume the not remote possibility that Germany had
refrained from using poison gas until she had reached the stage
of development which existed at the time of her 1918 offensive.
There is little room for doubt that the big scale use of cloud
attacks which would then have been available, and of shell gas,
in particular mustard gas, would have achieved decisive success.
The Allies would have been totally unprotected, the moral effect
would have been enormous, and, even if we ignore the latter,
the number of casualties would have produced a gap the size
of which was only dependent on German wishes.
Rapid Identification Essential.--It is important to remember,
however, that once a chemical campaign has commenced,
certain factors may militate against any lengthy retention
of the initiative by either party. Organisations develop whose
function is to ascertain the nature of new enemy chemical devices
so that protective research and production can commence with
the minimum delay. This assumes the existence of a protective
appliance and organisation. The very efficient collaboration
of the British Central Laboratory in France for the examination
of new gas shell with the French organisation centred in Paris
provides numerous examples of the functioning of this safeguard.
No time was lost in identifying the nature of the various
chemicals employed by Germany in her shell fillings.
Speed was vital. The use of a new type of chemical in shell,
bomb, or other contrivance, in any sector of the front,
on whatever scale, however small, was reported without delay.
Then followed instantaneous collection and examination,
after which all front line formations, other formations,
allies, and rear organisations were expeditiously warned.
The harmless trial flight of the few shell of a new type might
be followed by the use of hundreds of thousands in a deadly
attack one hundred miles away or on another allied front.
Not only were captured offensive contrivances of value for
this purpose, but the rapid examination of new enemy masks was
of prime importance, for it could be assumed that the enemy would
be protected against his own surprises in store for others.
Attempts to ascertain the enemy's gas activities were not
confined to examining captured material after their first use.
Raids and artillery fire were both used to obtain intelligence
regarding preparations, or to break up the gas emplacements.
The Germans have provided us with a particularly gallant
and interesting attempt.
Near Nieuport the front penetrated a region inundated by
the Belgians during the desperate German offensives of 1914.
The trench system, winding through a mile or so of sand dunes,
passed in a southeasterly direction through the marshy sector known
as Lombartzyde. Here the bogged front lines were intersected by
the Yser canal, the German front trench being some 80 yards away.
Allied gas was installed in the Lombartzyde and neighbouring
sectors ready for discharge on the first favourable opportunity.
For some reason or other the Germans suspected this,
and at night a raiding party swam down the ice cold Yser, and,
negotiating the submerged wire, landed in the Allied support line.
Stunning the sentry with a bomb which, fortunately, refused to explode,
they proceeded to the front line to seek gas emplacements.
Either through unexpected disturbance, or for some other reason,
they were compelled to leave before completing their inspection,
and successfully swam the Yser canal back to their own trenches.
This hazardous enterprise represents but one of many raids whose
function it was to ascertain the presence of enemy gas.
Propaganda and Morale.--Another factor intended to facilitate the
attainment of the chemical initiative was the German use of propaganda.
Rumours, reflected in the Press, were often current at the Front,
at home, and in neutral countries, that some particularly fiendish
chemical contrivance was about to be launched against the Allies
by Germany. Thus, in January and February of 1916, vigorous propaganda
activity of this kind in Switzerland preceded the great German
offensive at Verdun. The new gas was heralded by fantastic stories.
Certain death was threatened for all within one hundred yards of the
shell burst. The origin of the report was traced to various sources.
In one case rumours concerned a conscientious worker in a German factory,
desirous of warning the French through Swiss friends, in other cases
German scientists were reported to be influencing Francophile
neutrals in order that they might warn the French. But an analysis
of the propaganda reveals something more than its sensational nature.
The information arrived at well-defined periods, which usually preceded
the actual use of a new gas or chemical device by Germany. But when
the actual effort is compared with the prophecy we find that in no case
was there any real clue as to the nature of the gas. Thus, before the use
of phosgene by the Germans at the end of 1915, definite reports reached
the Allies regarding the projected use of at least ten new gases
by Germany, which were described not only chemically, but as being
colourless, odourless, powerful, blinding, and instantaneously deadly!
No such volume of propaganda was experienced before the first German
cloud attack at Ypres. Indeed, one would not have expected it,
for the mere fact of the use of cloud gas was then new to war,
and of military value.
This propaganda was not without its effect, and, but for the excellent
Allied gas discipline, would have been an effective precursor
to the gas itself. Cases were not absent, at the Battle of Loos,
for example, in which the German use of lachrymators found
British soldiers so mentally unprepared, or rather let us say
"prepared" by propaganda, as to spread ridiculous rumours on
the battlefield as to the all-powerful nature of the new German
gas shell. These were, in fact, bursting a few yards away,
with no more serious results than lachrymation and vomiting.
The extended use of shell gas by the Germans in the summer
of 1916 was again preceded by intensive propaganda during
the early months of that year, in which the promise of prussic
acid was prominent. The influence of a name is very curious.
Prussic acid probably accounted for fewer casualties than any
other gas. This fact became apparent with the increasing
use of the French Vincennite, which contained prussic acid.
Yet German propaganda redoubled its efforts as time went on to inspire
fear in the Allied soldiers by the threat to use prussic acid.
It is clear that armies cannot abandon gas discipline, and that
an important factor in strengthening this discipline is a wise
distribution of gas knowledge. The use of mustard gas and newer
shell gases in 1917 was again preceded by a burst of propaganda.
In this period we find the first reference to long-range gas
shell and aircraft gas bomb, and, curiously enough, a certain
amount of propaganda with regard to a blinding chemical,
which partially described mustard gas.
As further confirmation of the General Staff origin of this propaganda
we find that the 1918 outburst occurred two or three months earlier in
the year than in 1917. This was accounted for, no doubt, by its intended
influence upon Allied morale in the great German offensive of early 1918.
This last wave of propaganda includes one very interesting example.
It is better known than other cases through its association with the
International Red Cross at Geneva. This body represented in February,
1918, that Germany was about to use a really terrible gas which would
have such disastrous effects that it was absolutely essential to make
a last attempt to get both sides to abandon gas warfare. The official wire
reads as follows:--"Protest of International Red Cross against the use
of Poison Gas. I have received private letter from Monsieur X., President
of International Red Cross, which I think that I ought to lay before you.
He says that Red Cross were induced to make protest by what they had
heard of new gas Germans are preparing although Red Cross understands
that the Allies are aware of the gas and are taking their precautions.
As they did not wish to draw an indictment of Germany they appealed to
both groups of belligerents to pledge themselves not to use this weapon.
Red Cross asks whether the Entente leaders through Inter-Allied Council at
Versailles could not make a loud declaration which would reach the peoples
of the Central Empires as well as their rulers, pledging themselves not to use
such gas on condition that the two Emperors similarly bind themselves not
to employ it. If the latter refuse, all the guilt will rest with them."
Although there can be no doubt that the International Red Cross and the Swiss
involved in this move were absolutely bona fide, yet whoever was responsible
for initiating the move on the German side played his hand very well.
If, as actually occurred, the protest did not result in the cessation
of gas hostilities, it still served its purpose as propaganda aimed
at Allied morale. Knowing his dispositions for gas defence, and our
own offensive preparations, it is probable that the enemy was willing
to withdraw before being overwhelmed by Allied and American production.
After three years of costly improvised production by the Allies, Germany could
no longer securely enjoy the fruits of the initiative provided by the plants
and factories of the I.G.
Peculiar Peace-Time Danger.--There can be no doubt therefore that the mere
contact of two armies during war acts as a check against the decisive
use of chemical warfare, except in the very early stages. During peace
this contact will be practically non-existent, and it would be possible
for any country so to diverge in its lines of research and discovery that,
given rapid means of production, it could repeat the German surprise of 1915,
this time with decisive results. Should such a nation possess a monopoly
in the means of rapid production, the world is practically at her mercy.
Should she be prepared to break her word, the usual means of controlling
disarmament are impotent against these developments.
War Fluctuations of Initiative.--In the light of the above remarks the
fluctuations in the initiative during the recent war are very significant.
The first marked feature was the development of British and Allied
protection to counter the enemy attacks which would presumably follow
the first German use of cloud gas. Immediately after the German
chemical surprise, and while the Allies were still undecided whether
to retaliate, work proceeded feverishly on the development of some
form of protection for the hitherto unprotected soldier. In response
to Lord Kitchener's dramatic appeal to the women of England and France,
masks were sent to France in sufficient quantity within a few days.
They were of a very primitive type, and consisted of a pad of cotton
wool impregnated with certain chemicals, to be held in place over
the mouth, which was superseded, in May, by a very similar contrivance,
slightly more efficient with regard to the length of time of protection.
Dr. Haldane and certain other prominent chemists and physiologists worked
on the different improvised types. With this feeble protection, or,
in the first case, with none at all, our armies had to face the first
German cloud gas attacks.
The idea of the gas helmet which covered the whole head was brought
to England by Captain Macpherson of the Newfoundland Corps,
early in May. Suitably impregnated, it made satisfactory tests.
The helmet type of respirator made of flannel was first tested in
the Anti-Gas laboratories on May 10th, 1915, and was a great success
compared with previously suggested types. Arrangements for its
manufacture were accordingly made, and this began in June, 1915.
This protective device consisted of a flannel helmet with a celluloid
film eyepiece, and was called the hypo helmet. The fabric was impregnated
with the same solution as the cotton waste pads described above,
the dipping being carried out largely at Oxford Works, but partly in
the Royal Army Clothing Department, Pimlico. Its manufacture was continued
until September, 1915, about two and a half millions being made in all.
From June, 1915, we never really lost the initiative in the matter
of defence, although, at different times, the struggle was very intense.
It was this helmet, with the modified phenate impregnation, which, known as
the P. helmet, formed the first line of defence against the probable
employment of phosgene by Germany. It became known as the "Tube Helmet"
when fitted with a mouthpiece for exhaled air, and, in this form,
countered the formidable enemy phosgene attack in December, 1915.
The later addition of hexamine, suggested from Russia, greatly improved
the efficiency against phosgene and led to the P.H. helmet, which was
issued from January, 1916. It was not withdrawn until February,
1918, but in the later stages was used as a second line of defence.
The magnitude of this manoeuvring for protection can be judged from
the facts that two and a half millions of hypo helmets, nine millions
of P. helmets, and fourteen millions of P.H. helmets were issued
during the campaign.
There is no doubt that this early period, however, was a very costly
experiment on the use of the different masks, the success of which
involved the loss of numbers of men who were compelled, through reasons
of supply or uncertain design, to use the less efficient types.
In one case, for example, the trial of mica eyepieces rendered otherwise
efficient masks absolutely useless by breaking, and caused losses.
We cannot afford to repeat such experiments in future. Failure to
develop protective appliances fatally implies large-scale experiments
in future wars in which unnecessary loss of life is bound to occur.
If steady research in peace can diminish this possible loss,
shall it be stopped?
The urgency of these developments can be understood from
a case quoted by General Hartley: "A certain modification
of the respirator was considered necessary in France,
and officers were sent home to explain what was needed.
Within forty-eight hours of their arrival arrangements
were made to modify the respirators, and within a few weeks
the fighting troops had been re-equipped with the new pattern.
Less than three months after the change had been recommended
three attacks were made by the Germans which would certainly
have had very serious consequences if our troops had not been
in possession of the improved respirator, as the older pattern
would not have withstood the concentration of gas employed.
This was only one of many changes that were made in the respirator
to meet new developments."
 Report before the British Association, 1919.
How urgent was the need for these developments? It was vital.
Here is a case showing frightful losses sustained by partially
or inefficiently protected troops. Between May and July of 1915
the Germans made at least three cloud gas attacks upon the Russians,
immediately west of Warsaw. In all these attacks, taken together,
gas was discharged for a total time of not more than one hour, and they
were all practically from the same position, on a front of about six miles.
The affair seems relatively small, yet what was the result?
The Russians lost not less than 5000 dead on the field, and their
total casualties were of the order of 25,000 officers and men.
A Siberian regiment had, before the last attack, a ration strength
of about forty officers and 4000 men. This was reduced by a twenty
minutes gas discharge to four officers and four hundred men.
No other weapon could have reproduced, under the most favourable
conditions for its use, in as many days, what gas was able to do
in as many minutes.
Although our protection had countered the later German attacks
with cloud gas, yet it threatened to fail to meet the situation
created by the use of a variety of organic chemicals in shell.
In order to counter the use of lachrymatory compounds by the enemy,
compounds which penetrated the helmet insufficiently to cause serious
casualties but sufficiently to hamper the individual by lachrymation,
goggles were introduced in which the eyes were protected by rims
of rubber sponge. This remedied the weakness of the P.H. helmet
and produced the P.H.G. helmet, of which more than one and a half
millions were issued during 1916-1917.
Towards the end of 1915 the standard protection was the P. and P.H. helmet,
but the use of lachrymators compelled us to use the P.H.G. Even
this helmet was not satisfactory against the high concentrations
of phosgene or lachrymators, and after much research the opinion
gained ground that further development must be on other lines.
In addition, the need for a more general form of protection was
emphasised by the German adoption of a mask of cartridge design.
In other words, the fabric of the helmet, or facial portion of the mask,
was made impermeable, and the filtration of the poisoned air occurred
through a cartridge, or filtering box, attached to the fabric
in the form of a snout. The cartridge provided a much greater
protective range and capacity. It was clear that such German
protection was evidence of their plans for the further use of gas.
The new German cartridge mask appeared in the autumn of 1915.
Doctor H. Pick, reviewing German protective measures in Schwarte's book,
enumerates the various desiderata of the ideal mask and explains,
"It was only our early recognition of these requirements
which gave us an advantage over the enemy from the first in
the sphere of defensive measures against gas, and which spared
us from having to undertake radical alterations in the apparatus
as the English, French, and Russians had to do more than once."
This early adoption of a comprehensive view on protection
by Germany is a testimony to both German thoroughness and their
definite intention to proceed with a vigorous chemical war.
The latter is not mere inference, for it is borne out by the dates
at which they commenced production in their dye factories.
Further, even if the German cartridge mask was only decided upon
after Loos, which is not probable, our feeble reply in that battle
would hardly have justified such a radical advance in protection.
It was thus forecasted that not only would new ranges of compounds
be employed which it would be most difficult to counter individually,
but aggressive methods would arise, either entirely new or modifications
of the cloud method, which would enable much higher concentrations to be
obtained than those in evidence hitherto. Accordingly the first type
of the well-known British Box Respirator was designed, giving a big
capacity of highly efficient filtering material, or granule, contained in
a canister, with an improved face-piece and breathing arrangements.
Without going into details, it may be said that Colonel Harrison
and Major Lambert were associated with a number of other enthusiastic
workers in developing the Box Respirator.
Here again the question of chemical supply threatened to
influence our retention of the initiative. Without going into
the development of the granule in the respirator, the supply
of potassium permanganate was of prime importance, and the country
was woefully deficient in the production of this substance.
The determined efforts of British manufacturers overcame this difficulty.
It was now possible to work on general lines for the improvement
of this canister to increase its protective range, and to modify
the canister specifically in accordance with intelligence as to
what the enemy had recently done or was about to do. In this way,
and successively, the army was successfully protected against the higher
concentrations employed and the newer substances introduced.
The issue of the large Box Respirator commenced in February, 1916.
It was replaced by the small Box Respirator which came out
in August, 1916, and of which over sixteen millions had been
issued before the signing of the Armistice. At one time over a
quarter of a million small Box Respirators were produced weekly.
The chief modifications were the use of a smaller box or canister,
the margin of protection being unnecessarily large in the former type.
It became necessary in the spring of 1917 to provide more efficient
protection against irritating smokes which tended to penetrate
the respirator as minute particles, and the first form consisted
in the use of two layers of cotton wadding in the canister of the small
Box Respirator. The use of Blue Cross compounds by Germany in the summer
of 1917 rendered this matter more urgent, and a special filter jacket
was designed which fitted round the Small Box Respirator. A million
were made and sent to France. Developments proceeded on these lines.
Altogether, more than fifty million masks and respirators of different
kinds were manufactured by the British Anti-Gas Department for our own
and Allied armies.
We thus have some idea of the importance of protection
in chemical warfare and of the absolutely imperative need
of deciding whether or no work on protection must go on.
There can be no doubt as to the answer to this question.
It is not only in the interest of the army, whether a League of Nations
or a national army, but also in those of the civil population.
The Tense Protective Struggle.--Few people realise how the development
of Allied and enemy gas masks and protective measures was forced
upon each side in a number of critical steps. At each of these,
had research and production been unequal to the task, the armies would
have found themselves more uncovered and exposed than if the whole
trench and dug-out system had been suddenly rendered unusable in some
peculiar way, thus removing cover from high explosive and shrapnel,
rifle, and machine-gun fire. The army has an apt expression.
An officer or man parading incompletely equipped is dubbed "half naked."
To be within reach of enemy gas without a mask was true nakedness.
A modern army without a gas mask is much more helpless and beaten
than one without boots. More than this, it must be clearly
understood that a gas mask of efficient design and production
will remain of very little use unless, supported by comprehensive
research which, itself, gains enormously in efficiency if related
to enemy offensive activities.
The German Mask.--Consider the German mask for a moment.
We have seen how Germany adopted the canister drum or cartridge
form before any of the other belligerents, and in good time
to protect her own men against their own use of phosgene,
at the end of 1915. Indeed, Germany probably held up the use
of phosgene until her own protection against it was developed,
although Schwarte's book claims that the German mask issue in 1915
was mainly a protection against chlorine. The filling consisted
of some such material as powdered pumice-stone saturated with a
solution of potash, and powdered over with fine absorbent charcoal
in order to protect against organic irritants and phosgene.
These were the familiar one-layer drums. Then came the British
concentrated cloud gas offensive in the summer of 1916,
which undoubtedly found the German mask unequal to some of the higher
concentrations which were obtained under most favourable conditions.
The Gas Officer of the Sixth German Army stated in a document
issued in November, 1916: "Considerable losses were caused
by the gas attacks which have taken place latterly.
The casualties were mainly due to the men being surprised in dugouts,
to the neglect of gas discipline, masks not being at hand,
to faulty masks, and to the use of old pattern drums _*which could
not afford protection against the type of gas employed by the enemy_.
(The italics are our own.--V.L.)
Evidence is found in the introduction of the German three-layer drum
in the autumn of 1916. An army does not undertake the manufacture
of millions of new appliances without very good reason.
This new drum was specially aimed at phosgene protection.
The middle layer consisted of granulated absorbent charcoal,
which had the property of absorbing large quantities of organic
irritants and phosgene. In the three-layer drum the latter
gas was adequately guarded against for most field purposes,
although we have reason to believe that the German staff was
always apprehensive, and German soldiers suspicious of the actual
penetration of their mask obtained in the immediate locality
of projector discharges.
Dr. Pick explains in Schwarte's book what is already well known,
that the charcoal layer has a wide, "non-specific effect, and it retains
almost all materials of which the molecular weight is not too small,
even if very strongly neutral in character (as, for example, chlorpicrin)."
He goes on to say "the progressive development of gas warfare
led to the use of these very materials, whilst substances with
acid properties, such as chlorine, fell more and more into disuse.
The three-layer drum went through all sorts of changes in consequence.
When the use of chlorpicrin mixtures gained in importance in 1917,
the layer of charcoal was increased at the expense of the other two layers.
This stage of development ended in 1918, when the other layers were
done away with altogether, and the entire three sets were filled
with `A' charcoal." " `A' charcoal was a particularly efficient form.
We learn from the same source that the increased protection against
phosgene was very welcome to the Germans in view of the danger arising
from gas projector attacks. Further, the capacity for absorption of
the German charcoal was never equalled by any of foreign production."
This was certainly true for the greater part of the war.
But Dr. Pick continues, in a sentence which is full of significance:
"In consequence of the high quality of the drum's absorption, we were able to
carry on to the end of the war with a drum of relatively small proportions."
This point is so important as to demand further explanation.
Enforced German Modifications.--The most important
disadvantage of a gas mask is its resistance to breathing.
Men undertaking arduous and dangerous duties in the presence of gas
must wear a mask, but they cannot undertake these duties if their
breathing is seriously interfered with. This is particularly
so in trench engineering and in the heavy work of the artillery.
Now the resistance depends, for a given type of filling,
upon the area of the cross-section of the drum. Breathing will be
easier through a very large area than through a very small one.
The British appliance was a frank admission that, with its filling,
a large drum was necessary, so large that the weight of it could
not be borne by the mask itself, but by attachment to the chest,
the actual mask being connected with the drum or box by a flexible
rubber tube. But the Germans adopted from the beginning
a form of protective appliance in which the drum or cartridge
was attached to and supported by the mask. In other words,
their development was limited by the weight of their drum,
unless they completely changed their type on British lines.
It is quite clear that they realised this, for Doctor Pick
tells us, referring to the large size of the British box:
"For this reason the weight of the box is so great that it
is no longer possible to attach it directly to the mask.
It is, therefore, carried on the chest and joined to the mouthpiece
of the mask by a flexible tube."
The development of British cloud gas compelled the Germans so to modify
their filling that the resistance to breathing increased considerably.
They countered this, however, by introducing an exceedingly active charcoal,
realising that the weight of their drum had already reached the limit
possible with that type of apparatus, and that they could not,
therefore, get better breathing capacity by increasing its size.
When, however, the Blue Cross compounds were introduced, it was necessary
for both armies to take special precautions. These precautions involved
introducing a layer of filtering material into the canister or drum.
Dr. Pick tells us: "When the material of the Blue Cross type became
of greater importance, a supplementary apparatus had to be issued.
A thin disc filter prepared by a special method from threads of cotton
was fastened to the tube of the drum by means of a spring lid.
This arrangement provided adequate protection against materials of the
Blue Cross type used by the enemy, as, for instance, stannic chloride,
whilst the German Blue Cross gas, which was more penetrating, was only
retained to a moderate degree." This is a direct admission that,
in order to counter the Allied use of Blue Cross gas, further filtering
arrangements would have been necessary. But the resistance to
breathing of the German apparatus was already strained to the utmost.
It is exceedingly improbable that the Germans, having already reached
the limit of size of the canister or drum, and being unable to obtain
better breathing by increase in size, could have introduced any such
device without carrying their resistance beyond the possible limit.
In other words, the use of Blue Cross by the Allies would have compelled
them to adopt the British type of apparatus, that is, a bigger box supported
by the chest and connected to the mask by a flexible rubber tube.
This would have led them into an _impasse_.
Shortage of Rubber.--We know how, in the beginning of 1917, they were
compelled to substitute leather in the substance of the mask.
Dr. Pick admits that this was due to lack of raw material, rubber,
and there are many other signs that this was so. Although leather was
not altogether a bad substitute for this purpose, rubber would have been
essential for the flexible tube, and the millions required to refit
the army would have completely broken the German rubber resources.
Many facts, including their feverish development of synthetic rubber,
small quantities of which they obtained at enormous cost, go to prove
this conclusion. The submarine, _Deutschland_, returning to Germany
in 1916, from its historic trip to America, carried shipments of the most
sorely needed commodities, including large quantities of raw rubber.
Stringent measures were adopted later to collect waste rubber and prevent
its use for such purposes as billiard tables and tyres for private vehicles.
The first naval expedition to Baltic ports after the Armistice
found the hospitals in a pitiable plight for lack of rubber.
The Germans were being driven into an impossible position.
In other words, the Allies, by a proper use of Blue Cross compounds,
could have regained the gas initiative. There is no doubt that they
were within a few months of doing so. Once again we see the importance
of production. Lack of raw materials for protective purposes was
endangering the German position, but delay in offensive production
by the Allies removed that danger. Although their pressing need
was obvious, the Blue Cross arsenic compounds were not available.
The chemical war involves manoeuvring for position just as definitely
as the older forms, but in it production, formerly a routine activity,
assumes critical strategic importance.
Gas Discipline.--This constant vigilance against enemy surprise
imposed more conditions upon the troops than the permanent adoption
of a protective appliance which, in itself, was a very big thing.
Given the mask, the army had to be taught how and when to use it.
A gas sense had to be developed which ensured rapid use of the mask
at the right time with the least hampering of operations.
Gas discipline thus became one of the most important features of
general training, a feature which can never be abandoned by the armies
of civilised nations in the future without disastrous results.
This discipline, like all other protective work, was dependent
in its nature and intensity upon the struggle for the initiative.
One example out of many is found in the numerous German Army Orders
which followed our introduction of the Livens projector.
This weapon gave the possibility of much higher concentrations
at much greater ranges from the front line than were formerly
possible and for a time German gas discipline was severely shaken,
and the staffs had to react violently to meet the situation.
The introduction of this weapon, in fact, was the first clear case
of the gaining of the chemical initiative by the Allies. A telegram
from German General Headquarters stated: "The English have
achieved considerable success by firing gas mines simultaneously
from a considerable number of projectors on to one point.
Casualties occurred because the gas was fired without warning,
and because its concentration was so great that a single breath
would incapacitate a man."
This is a further example of the fact that the decisive initiative
was very difficult to obtain after two years of war, whereas by
the same means it would have been ensured at the commencement.
The general development of German protection was a partial safeguard,
but the value of the weapon could be seen from the fact that an
order was issued for all German working parties to wear gas masks
when within 1000 yards of the front line on nights not obviously
unsuitable for Allied gas discharges. It is difficult to exaggerate
the military importance of such an imposition.
Summary.--We have thus covered a period, the main features
of which were attempts at the cloud initiative by Germany
and our rapid and successful protective reaction.
The conditions surrounding the first attack were entirely peculiar.
The complete surprise attending it could only be repeated
at the commencement of another war. It failed for entirely
different reasons from those which prevented the decisive
use of phosgene by the Germans. But our reaction carried
us further, and we developed the final form of cloud gas attack,
the Livens projector, which, in its turn, taxed the German
protection to the utmost, and threatened to overcome it.
History repeated itself with a vengeance in this protective struggle.
Two attempts at the cloud initiative, the German phosgene attempt
and the Livens projector, were both partially successful.
Had either of those attempts shared the surprise of April 22nd,
1915, their success would have been many times greater.
It was contact on the battle front that developed a protective
appliance and organisation, by giving us an insight
into enemy appliances and projects. We cannot emphasise
too strongly the significance of this for the future.
Apart from remote exceptions, contact will be entirely absent.
We can have no guarantee whatever that new devices will
be revealed, either between nations or to a central body.
Suppose the Germans had been more fully aware of the possibilities
of cloud gas, and, realising the dependence of their one method
upon wind direction and caprice, had developed our method of
producing cloud at a distance. The combinations of the two methods
at Ypres could hardly have left a margin of chance for failure.
This is a feeble example of what may occur.
New German Attempts.--By this time it was not easy
to see how either side could obtain a decisive surprise
by the use of chemicals aimed at the respiratory system.
It appeared very difficult to penetrate the different forms
of respirators by conditions obtainable in the field.
Professor F. P. Kirschbaum, writing on gas warfare,
in Schwarte's book, reveals how Germany counted on obtaining
the gas initiative against the French at Verdun. He explains
how the decision to use Green Cross on a large scale coincided
with certain modifications in the design of the German gas shell,
which made its large-scale manufacture much simpler and more rapid.
"The manufacture of Green Cross," he also tells us, "was assured
in the special progress in technical chemistry, and the output
was adequate," and goes on to explain, "The first use of per
stuff found the enemy unprepared with any suitable protection.
The French had equipped their troops with protection against chlorine,
but had provided no protection against phosgene,"--"the results
of Green Cross ammunition were recognised by the troops.
During the big operations before Verdun, however, the enemy
did their very utmost to substitute the gas mask M2 for
the respirator XTX. Gas mask M2 was a protection against
Green Cross. For this reason Green Cross ammunition alone could
not be expected to have an effect, as soon as the enemy carried out
defensive measures by means of gas mask M2 or some better apparatus.
This reverse spurred on the Germans to renewed efforts."
The writer proceeds to explain how in 1916 these efforts resulted
in finding two important substitutes, mustard gas or Yellow Cross
and the arsenic compounds of the Blue Cross type.
 Diphosgene or Green Cross constituents.
Yellow and Blue Cross.--The Germans had, somewhat hastily,
laid aside their cloud activities. But they were very keenly
pursuing another line, the development of shell gas. Thus, in July,
1917, they made two distinct attempts to regain their initiative
by the use of shell gas, and were very largely successful in one case.
We refer to the Yellow and Blue Cross shell, containing mustard
gas and diphenyl-chlorarsine respectively.
Captain Geyer, writing in Schwarte's book, relates: "Gas was used
to a much greater extent, over 100,000 shells to a bombardment
after the introduction of the Green Cross shell in the summer of 1916
at Verdun. From that time the use of gas became much more varied
as the number of types of guns firing gas projectiles was increased,
field guns having also been provided with gas projectiles.
The most tremendous advance in the use of gas by the artillery,
and indeed in the use of gas in general, came in the summer of 1917
with the introduction of the three elements, Green, Yellow, and Blue,
one after another. This introduced the most varied possibilities
of employing gas, which were utilised to the full in many places
on the front during the successful defensive operations of 1917,
above all in Flanders and at Verdun. The hardly perceptible poisoning
of an area by means of Yellow Cross shell and the surprise gas
attack became two of the new regulation methods of using gas."
Yellow Cross.--The respirator afforded complete protection
against the attacks of mustard gas on the respiratory system,
but this gas evaded protection in other ways. In the first place,
its early unfamiliarity evaded the gas discipline of the Allies,
and it was not realised in many cases that the respirator was necessary.
This was speedily corrected, but its second line of attack was not easily,
and never finally countered. We refer to its vesicant action.
Mustard gas could produce severe blistering and skin wounds
in such slight concentrations, even through clothing, that it
was a tremendous casualty producer, putting men out of action
for several weeks or months, with a very low rate of mortality.
Used in large quantities against an entirely unprotected army,
its results might well have been decisive.
This was the first example of chemical attack upon a new function.
We had too readily assumed that gas, or chemical attack,
would be restricted to the respiratory system, or to the eyes.
We had assumed that if our mask protection was ahead
of enemy respiratory attacks our situation was safe.
Mustard gas was a rude awakening. It was impossible to protect
fully against mustard gas, unless we protected the whole body,
and it was never possible to do this during the war without
too seriously influencing the movements of the soldier.
Blue Cross.--The Blue Cross Shell was a deliberate attempt
to pierce the respirator. It represented to the German mind
such an advance of aggression over protection that the effect
on the enemy would be almost as if he were entirely unprotected.
Some idea of the German estimate of its importance can be found
in the following quotation from Captain Geyer: "The search
for new irritants in the sphere of arsenic combinations
led to the discovery of a series of effective substances.
In view of the obvious importance of highly irritant compounds
capable of existing in a very finely divided, pulverised,
or particulate form, research was made in the domain of little
volatile substances with boiling points up to 400'0. This led
to the astonishing discovery that _diphenylarsenious chloride_
when scattered would penetrate all gas masks then in use,
even the German, practically unweakened, and would have serious
irritant effects on the wearers. This discovery could only be
explained by the supposition that the irritant works in the form
of particles which it is difficult to keep back by means
of a respirator, even a completely protecting respirator,
such as the German and English gas masks were at that time.
Further analysis showed that the mixture of air and gas examined
revealed a concentration of gas greatly in excess of the point
of saturation for the vapour given off by this stuff. Finally, ultra
microscopic examination showed the existence of smoke particles.
A new type of fighting material had been discovered."
He also tells us how, following this discovery, production rose
to 600 tons monthly, and used up all the arsenic obtainable
in Germany. The Allies were fully alive to the importance
of this matter, and we have already explained that, had they
been in possession of large quantities of Blue Cross compounds,
they might have forced German protection into an impossible position.
No better example could be found of the immense superiority enjoyed
by Germany owing to her flexible and efficient producing organisation.
Captain Geyer goes on to explain how the military value of these
projectiles was considerable, and, therefore, the monthly production
reached a figure of over one million shell. We have already emphasised
the question of design in chemical warfare, and its importance is
borne out by the comparative failure of these German projectiles.
Geyer explains how only minute particles less than 1/10,000
of a millimetre in diameter are of any use to penetrate a mask,
and he develops the difficulties experienced by Germany in obtaining
such fine pulverisation without decomposing the substance.
He explains the difficulties which they had in arriving at
a suitable shell, and their unsuccessful struggle to overcome
the necessity of a glass container, which, he says, demanded "a
considerable advance in the technical work of shell production."
This attempt at the chemical initiative by the use of Blue Cross
illustrates another method of attack. Geyer says, "Blue and Green Cross
ammunition were used simultaneously in the field--called coloured cross
(Buntkreuz) in order, by the use of Blue Cross, to force the enemy
to remove gas masks, whereby they exposed themselves to the poisonous
effects of Green Cross. Matters seldom reached that point, however,
for as soon as the enemy realised the effect of `coloured cross'
ammunition, they withdrew troops which were being bombarded with it
from their positions to a zone beyond the range of artillery fire.
The English in particular had tried to protect the troops against the
effects of diphenylarsenious chloride, and of diphenylarsenious cyanide
(which followed it and was even more effective) by the use of filters
made of woollen material and wadding. They were to a great extent
technically successful, but the most effective defensive apparatus,
the `jacket' to the box, was unsatisfactory from the military point