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voltaire60

ZEEBRUGGE RAID,1918- CENTENARY EVENTS

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voltaire60

    Edit-   This thread was started originally for info. on the possible German use of gas shells at Zeebrugge,1918. A fellow member has asked if it can be re-named to be a focus for all matters Zeebrugge, in view of the forthcoming centenary. Happy to oblige. First few posts may, therefore, be a bit of a mystery

 

An oddity for a casualty from my local area-  Petty Officer Frank Lucas, dow after Zeebrugge. On Iphigenia. I have 2 references-small ones of his records- that he died of the effects of gas poisoning, one ref. saying gas shell.

  Would any old U-Boat basher happen to know whether the Germans used gas shells at Zeebrugge? Or whether other casualties were caused by them. I have a suspicion that it may just be carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide from fires started topsides and need to eliminate whether it was a German tactic or just bad luck 

    (Spurred by years ago visiting the French fort on the Maginot Line, where the defenders died in 1940 from CO poisoning - not intended by the Germans,who had used flame throwers to burn out everything at ground level- The defenders died on the lower levels, mostly found weeks later at the bottom of a staircase some 7(?) levels down)

Edited by voltaire60

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Loader

Never heard of gas shells at that fight. I'd bet on the fumes from fires. Maybe "smoke inhalation" was not a phrase then in use to describe his injury.

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michaeldr

I wonder if the 'smoke screen' had anything to do with this case?

Per Centurion here (post No. 3) it was composed of particularly nasty stuff

 

 

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GrenPen

This man eventually died of the effects of the gas shells, and there's a quote in one of Paul Kendall's books regarding gas at Zeebrugge.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/75230035/HELMAN,%20JOHN%20WILLIAM

 

Here's the quote:

Due to the Germans targeting Vindictive with gas shells, Private James Feeney was relieved when the cruiser finally pulled away from the Mole - but then one of the gas shells exploded nearby

Quote

I must have been nearly half an hour on board before we left the Mole. It seemed years of hell. I was helping to take the wounded men off the decks, and shrapnel was going all the time. When we were at last moving things got worse. A gas-shell burst near me, and I could not find my mask. I fell on a dead man, and put on his. We kept huddled up in little groups on the deck with our dead all around us until the first streaks of dawn.

 

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voltaire60

 GrenPen- That's grand. Thanks very much for posting the reference that the germans used gas shells. My man,PO Frank Lucas was on Iphigenia-but was got back and died here or on the way.

 

     Well spotted!!

 

Mike

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GrenPen

Thanks Mike.

 

Helman's commemoration by the CWGC has only recently happened. I suspect that Terry Denham's people were involved.

 

Credit where it's due to Paul Kendall and Dom Walsh for the great job they are doing with their respective research into Zeebrugge.

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Bartimeus

'Gassing' is mentioned in Surgeon Probationer George Abercrombie's account of his part in the action (in The Surgeon Probationers. by R.S. Allison (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1979)). He was aboard Keyes' flagship, the destroyer HMS Warwick.

 

Quote

About an hour later I got a momentary glimpse of Vindictive coming away, and shortly after that we came upon a most awe-inspiring sight, a motor launch so overcrowded with men that it seemed likely she might capsize at any moment. She managed to get alongside, there was a call for stretchers, and she transferred to us 101 survivors from the block-ships Intrepid and Iphigenia.

When the first casualty arrived on our deck, two men lifted the stretcher and said to me, "Where to, Sir?" There was only one place to go and that was the mess deck under the fo'c'sle, a comparatively large space, undivided. Of those brought on board, three were dead and 31 others were casualties. There was a group of 10 or 11 who puzzled me. They were in some distress, with pain in the chest and a cough, and I wondered what this could be. It occurred to me that they were gassed, but by what I did not know. I thought it was possible that fumes from the explosives used to sink the blockships might have caused this. The Admiral sent his Flag-Lieutenant, Vaughan Morgan, down to the mess deck to help me, and his help was really magnificent. "What shall we do for these men?" he said. A line from Bainbridge & Menzies' Physiology had come back to me to the effect that, if one made a man vomit with an emetic, one emptied not only his stomach but also his lungs. "Make them vomit," I said. "How?" he said. "Mustard and water," said I. "How strong?" "Oh, pretty strong," said I, feeling it must be all or nothing.

 

He mentions Iphigenia, so it's possible Petty Officer Lucas was one of the men he treated.

 

Bart

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SiegeGunner

Brock devised a new smoke formulation for use at Zeebrugge, generated by spraying chlorosulphonic (chlorosulphuric) acid into the exhausts of MLs and CMBs and the funnels of larger warships.  Its principal industrial use ... surprisingly, for something so apparently nasty ... was in the manufacture of an artificial sweetener called Saxine and Brock commandeered most of the national output for a number of weeks.

 

Re 'gas shells', I have to say that I'm sceptical  ...  why would any of the batteries around the harbour have a supply of gas shells?  And let it not be forgotten (as it often is) that it was dark.  In the absence of evidence to the contrary (from MarineKorps archives), I think it is more likely that any 'gas' affecting Iphigenia was produced by fires/explosions.  Regarding 'gas shells' fired at Vindictive, Lt Cmdr Edward Hilton Young, commanding the 6" guns, was on deck during the raid and the withdrawal.  In his memoirs 'By Sea and Land', he mentions shells a-plenty, but no gas. 

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