Ger­mans deploy lethal gas

Halifax Courier - - The First World War Centenary Week By Week April 2 -

NChlo­rine gas attack on French lines April 1915 ews was just be­gin­ning to trickle in of a sec­ond ma­jor Ger­man attack to­wards Ypres. As al­ways the of­fi­cial re­ports from the Gen­eral Head­quar­ters of the Bri­tish Army were very bland. One sig­nif­i­cant in­clu­sion, how­ever, was the Ger­man use of gas. There had been re­ports of the French us­ing tear gas ear­lier in the war but th­ese at­tacks tended to be on a mi­nor scale, were of­ten in­ef­fec­tive and were of the tear gas va­ri­ety and un­likely to cause fa­tal­i­ties. The sig­nif­i­cance of this Ger­man gas attack was that it used Chlo­rine which could cause death by as­phyx­i­a­tion. They also used 168 tons of it. Its im­me­di­ate im­pact was to cre­ate may­hem in the French de­fences open­ing up a huge gap. Its suc­cess took the Ger­mans some­what by sur­prise and they were un­able to ex­ploit their ad­van­tage. As­phyx­i­at­ing gases had been banned by the Hague Treaty of 1899 so its de­ploy­ment brought im­me­di­ate con­dem­na­tion from the Al­lies as well as world­wide dis­ap­proval. De­spite this, the Ger­mans con­tin­ued to use gas at­tacks in the weeks that fol­lowed. We shall be hear­ing more of this later and how its hor­rors were brought home to the peo­ple of Hal­i­fax. creased op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the war were in fact in cler­i­cal po­si­tions. and in 1915 Irv­ing Ber­lin’s “I Love a Pi­ano” was a big hit. Per­haps fam­i­lies in Calderdale were singing along to “I love to hear some­body play upon a pi­ano, a grand pi­ano, it sim­ply car­ries me away”, although most of them no doubt owned an up­right rather than a grand. How­ever, as the small ad­ver­tise­ment shows, some peo­ple were be­gin­ning to feel the ef­fects of the war pos­si­bly through death or loss of in­come and were hav­ing to sell their pre­cious in­stru­ments. United King­dom and thou­sands were shipped over from North Amer­ica. Re­al­ity did not match the over-sen­ti­men­talised fic­tion­alised ac­count, es­pe­cially as shown in the film. On av­er­age 15 per cent of the Army’s horses died each year, usu­ally through ex­po­sure, ill­ness and hunger, rather than as the di­rect re­sult of en­emy ac­tion. Horses were chiefly used to pull sup­ply wag­gons (about 45 per cent): other uses in­cluded pulling gun car­riages, in­di­vid­ual rid­ing and the cav­alry. Mules were also used as pack an­i­mals. Only half of the to­tal num­ber of horses and mules was in France; the re­main­der was spread across other the­atres of war such as Italy, the Balkans, Egypt and the Mid­dle East. It would be in­ter­est­ing to know how many black­smiths from Calderdale ac­tu­ally en­listed fol­low­ing the re­cruit­ing cam­paign. Their pay at 5s per day was cer­tainly higher than that of the pri­vate sol­dier.

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