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KernelPanic

Gas Poisoning - Evacuation route

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KernelPanic
Posted (edited)

This casualty form documents the evacuation of a soldier with gas poisoning in Feb/March 1918. Any ideas what the notations (I.S.A.G.? etc.) for the Abbeville unit mean?

 

Thanks

 

Casualty form 2.jpg

Edited by KernelPanic

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RussT

No 1 South African General Hospital

 

Regards

 

Russ

 

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KernelPanic

Thanks Russ. I wouldn't have thought of that. 

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KernelPanic

Any ideas about what's in the parentheses?  It's very tough to make out even after some Photoshopping. 

 

Casualty form 3.jpg

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WhiteStarLine

My wild guess is the literal characters are Gas Pois W, ie Gas Poison Wound.  This hunch is based on GSW being Gun Shot Wound and often appearing in a similar position.

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KernelPanic
Posted (edited)

'Gas poison wound' looks very plausible. The effects of these agents obviously resulted in some awful lesions. Although the relevant WD mentions a bombardment with 'gas shells and 4.2s(?)' with '1 other rank' casualty on a date which exactly matches this casualty report, the agent in the shells was not mentioned. But maybe mustard gas?

Edited by KernelPanic

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WhiteStarLine
8 hours ago, KernelPanic said:

the agent in the shells was not mentioned

Like identifying venomous snakes in my country, this required a bit of attention to detail that probably wasn't on the priorities of the receivers ...  So mustard gas would have been the most likely candidate.

 

My grandfather's brigade was on the Somme a few months later and the Brigade Gas Officer was an industrial chemist and sampled bombardments with his bulb, pipette and other apparatus.  Also, the coloured cross on the base of the round was checked (as there was only a minimal damage on impact).  By 1918 both sides delivered sophisticated mixes and he recorded high explosive conventional shells, "phosgene, yellow cross [mustard], blue cross [sneezing], K Stoff and T Stoff [similar to chlorine or phosgene]".  These were mixed so that the HE killed, the lachrymatory gases made the victim remove the mask to sneeze / rub irritated eyes and the mustard gas did the terrible damage you speak of.  Chlorine and phosgene poisoned but were not used in as massive a quantity.

 

There's a chilling photo at Corbie of a large industrial tank labelled 'phosgene'.

 

Not to hijack your post, but 3 months later 2 Australian brigades lost 1,500 and 680 casualties to gas near Villers-Bretonneux.  It was still dangerous to cut down a tree up until the 1960s. 

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KernelPanic
Posted (edited)

Yes, I suppose shrapnel, HE shells, etc, all arrived with different and easily identifiable signatures that gas shells didn't have. 

 

That's fascinating to hear about your grandfather's work as a Brigade Gas Officer. The fact that such a position even existed just shows you how warfare changed during those 4+ years. My GGF (seen in the picture to the left) arrived in the Ypres area on the same day as the first chlorine attack in the north of the Salient in April 1915. Although not a first line soldier, he was definitely around during those early gas warfare efforts.

 

In 1915 delivery systems were about as primitive as you could get: just open the valve and hope the wind stays favourable. But as you say, by 1918 the ingenuity of combining ways to inflict damage with these weapons was truly abhorrent. The casualty reported in my first post (another family member) clearly suffered from their effects. He eventually recovered and was sent back to France, only to be KIA about 7 months after his gas injury.

Edited by KernelPanic

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