Germans deploy lethal gas
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.