JFK+50: Volume 7, No. 2392UNCLE SAM'S BOYS ENDURE POISON GAS IN DRILLS
American Field Headquarters in France (JFK+50) One hundred years ago today, August 6, 1917, the soldiers of General John J. Pershing's expeditionary army began facing "the dread waves" of poison gas* in drills designed to prepare them before going to the Front.
A small cavern-like enclosure was built to resemble "the subterranean bomb proofs" where most victims of a gas attack meet their doom. Each soldier, however, received extensive training in the use of the gas mask** before going into the enclosure.
Just in case there were any unforeseen problems, a team of army surgeons were standing by. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that "little danger will attend the encounter."
The following quotes provided by Marek Pruszewicz of BBC NEWS illustrate differing views on the morality of the use of chemical weapons in WW I...
"War has nothing to do with chivalry any more. The higher civilization rises, the viler man becomes."
General Karl von Einem
German 3rd Army in France
"I cannot see the difference between killing a man with a chemical substance and rendering him to pieces with high explosives."
Dr. J. F. Elliott (1915)
*The Germans first used chlorine gas on a large-scale on Jan. 31, 1915. The gas produced a greenish cloud & strong order that was easy to detect. Gases were intended to "demoralize, injure or kill" the enemy. Despite their horrific effects, 90,000 deaths were reported out of 1.2 million gas attack casualties.
**The standard-issue gas mask, or "small-box respirator," provided good protection against chlorine & phosgene. It provided no protection, however, against mustard gas which "produced terrible blisters all over the body."
"How deadly was the poison gas of WWI?." by Marek Pruszewicz, January 30, 2015, BBC News, www.bbc.com/
"Teach Sammies To Face Gases," The Chicago Daily Tribune, August 7, 1917.