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AOK4

Quote by Haig

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AOK4

Hello,

 

Online (wikipedia and some other website) one encounters allegedly a quote from Field Marshall Haig's war diaries saying " My officers and I were aware that such weapon would cause harm to women and children living in nearby towns, as strong winds were common in the battlefront. However, because the weapon was to be directed against the enemy, none of us were overly concerned at all." Unfortunately, no one bothered to give an exact reference nor indicated exatcly at what date this was written, which is an extremely important detail of the quote.

Does anyone have any more details about this quote (when Haig wrote it and in relation to which event)?

 

Regards,

Jan

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Ron Clifton

Hello Jan

 

It sounds like a reference to the use of poison gas at the Battle of Loos, so from September 1915. I will see if it is included in the fairly recent edition of Haig's diaries, to try to find a more precise timing.

 

Ron

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MikeMeech
8 hours ago, AOK4 said:

Hello,

 

Online (wikipedia and some other website) one encounters allegedly a quote from Field Marshall Haig's war diaries saying " My officers and I were aware that such weapon would cause harm to women and children living in nearby towns, as strong winds were common in the battlefront. However, because the weapon was to be directed against the enemy, none of us were overly concerned at all." Unfortunately, no one bothered to give an exact reference nor indicated exatcly at what date this was written, which is an extremely important detail of the quote.

Does anyone have any more details about this quote (when Haig wrote it and in relation to which event)?

 

Regards,

Jan

Hi

 

What websites was this quote on?  I undertook a quick search but could not find it.  If it is a 'real' quote it obviously has to be early war, however, I not sure that many civilians would be that near the release points of cylinder gas either side of the lines.  In wind I am not sure the heavier than air gas would be in great concentrations at a distance beyond the defensive lines.

Advancing British troops during 1918 appear to have believed that the German shelling of towns and villages with gas shells, that they had previously evacuated in their retreat towards Germany, was done deliberately to punish the previously occupied civilians.  This may or not have been true, but the British troops wearing their gas masks were not much 'inconvenienced' by it unlike the unprotected civilians,   

 

Mike

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Terry_Reeves

In fact cylinder gas could and did  cause civilian casualties. L F Haber in his book The Poisonous Cloud (1986)  noted that "when the Germans opened their cylinders at Wulgerghem in April 1916, farmer were working  the land some 4 km away, and though the British had issued  them with 'PH' helmets about 20 gassed on that occasion". The fact that it was cylinder gas would indicate chlorine or phosgene.  Haig's quote  almost certainly pertains to Loos , although at that time the British had no real idea of the problems that might occur. Haig's quote  almost certainly pertains to Loos , although at that time the British had no real idea of the problems that might occur.

 

TR

Edited by Terry_Reeves

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AOK4

Thanks for all the answers. If anyone could still confirm the exact date of the quote, that would be helpful.

In fact, most civilian gas casualties were not caused by gas from cylinders, but by mustard gas later in the war.

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MikeMeech
32 minutes ago, Uncle George said:

The Wikipedia page and quote are here, under ‘Civilian Casualties’:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_weapons_in_World_War_I

 

The quoted footnotes do not take us to Haig’s diary.

Hi

 

Thanks for that.  I suspect that many of the civilian casualties came later in the war when the gas shells were being fired into the rear areas, more than when released at the front from cylinders, even if the later caused some casualties.

 

Mike

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MikeMeech
26 minutes ago, Terry_Reeves said:

In fact cylinder gas could and did  cause civilian casualties. L F Haber in his book The Poisonous Cloud (1986)  noted that "when the Germans opened their cylinders at Wulgerghem in April 1916, farmer were working  the land some 4 km away, and though the British had issued  them with 'PH' helmets about 20 gassed on that occasion". The fact that it was cylinder gas would indicate chlorine or phosgene.  Haig's quote  almost certainly pertains to Loos , although at that time the British had no real idea of the problems that might occur. Haig's quote  almost certainly pertains to Loos , although at that time the British had no real idea of the problems that might occur.

 

TR

Hi

 

Haber's book is mentioned as a source for the quote in the Wikipedia article, does it mention where the Haig quote originates?

Many thanks

Mike

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Terry_Reeves

Mike

 

In fact the wiki says that the Haig quote came from his diary, there is no mention of it in Haber's book.

 

 

TR

Edited by Terry_Reeves

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Uncle George

Haber is a red herring, it seems to me. The Wiki article suggests the quote comes from Max Boot:

 

BB10BB2B-051D-45FD-A462-FDACE43791BE.jpeg

 

FA980FCF-FB2E-4CB8-8906-143B67B38AD8.jpeg

Edited by Uncle George

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AOK4

Whether that quote appears in any other publication doesn't matter. I want to know whether it is present in Haig's diaries and on what date.

 

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Ron Clifton

I finally found my copy of the recent edition of Haig's diaries, by Gary Sheffield and John Bourne. It is not a full transcription but I could not find the quote in the entries for the period leading up to the Battle of Loos.

 

Ron

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MikeMeech
2 hours ago, AOK4 said:

Whether that quote appears in any other publication doesn't matter. I want to know whether it is present in Haig's diaries and on what date.

 

Hi

 

I have 'skimmed' through the whole of my copy of Haig's Diary and have not found the quote.  At present the source of the quote cannot be confirmed, personally I would feel uncomfortable using a 'quote' that is not directly referenced to its original source.  The lack of date for the reference let alone page number etc., may put it in doubt.  Hopefully, someone will find the original source, if there is one?

 

Mike

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Ron Clifton

The original diaries are in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, and there are copies in the National Archives at Kew in class WO256. File WO256/5 covers the period leading up to Loos so that is probably the best starting point. I appreciate that Jan might not be able to get to either place very easily, but if any other Pal is going there soon, or lives in Edinburgh, they might be able to look it up.

 

Ron

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AOK4

Hello,

 

Thanks for your efforts. I will look a bit further and see whether I can find anything more...

 

Jan

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