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Remembered Today:

Gas in Gallipoli?


Steven Broomfield
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Help required.

 

I am currently reading, for review purposes, a new book published by Pen & Sword. I don't wish to divulge the title, but it mentions that the subject of the book was sent to the rear while on Gallipoli with the 29th Division '... after suffering in a gas attack'. In my ignorance, I don't know - was gas used in Gallipoli? (Difficult to be precise, but I'm guessing September/October 1915).

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24 minutes ago, michaeldr said:

 

NO

 

Thanks. I didn't think so, but wanted to check.

 

It's a pretty ropy book. I suspect the review won't sell many copies: it's riddled with silly mistakes like that one.

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The war diary of the 8th Hants mentions a gas scare by another Battalion around the hill 60 region, but they stated it was a false alarm.

 

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Mate,

 

I would say that the gas scare was much like the MG question.

 

After gas was used in France anyone now saw gas every where, even on the Dardenells, where every smoke of any sort became gas.

 

Or every shot fired was by a MG?

 

This maybe a bit far, but it was a boggy man for a while.

 

S.B

 

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The Medical Unit of the RND prepared for gas attacks, but there's no mention that the precautions were needed:

 

"On May 30 the Collingwood battalion, and on May 31 the Benbow battalion, arrived. The chief medical events at this time consisted in anti-gas-attack precautions ... "

 

"At this time respirators for use against poison gas arrived and were distributed with instructions for their use." 

 

(Gaskell A. Official history of the Medical Unit of the Royal Naval Division from its inception to the evacuation of Gallipoli. Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service. Vol. 12, no. 2, p.124, p.138.)

 

 

 

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Stretching the term “eastern Mediterranean theatres", then Sheffy concludes that the first use of gas in this region was by the Germans at Salonika in mid-March 1917:

“In the course of three nights the Germans fired about 15 000 asphyxiating shells on a small sector of British trenches, inflicting about 113 casualties, of whom only one died.”

This was a month before Murray first used gas at Gaza:

"During the botched second battle of Gaza, on 19 April 1917, his field artillery fired about 2500 poisonous chlorine shells on Turkish first-line positions with no effects and without the Turks noticing, because of the small number of shells, the volatile chemical substance, and the unsuitable climate and terrain.”

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Any mention of the half naked female green sniper in the book

Just asking

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6 hours ago, RaySearching said:

Any mention of the half naked female green sniper in the book

Just asking

 

Stop it. It's not big, and it's not clever. Mind you, doesn't mention the Turkish machine guns at Anzac, either.

 

Seriously, though, thanks everyone for the input. I have as much - no, far more - than required!

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Just to tidy up any loose ends here Steven: your question “was gas used in Gallipoli?received the correct answer, “NO”.

However, that does not mean that neither side considered using it.

 

De Robeck wrote to the Churchill on 19 May 1915 - ‘both Hamilton and myself strongly deprecate use of poisonous gas’, but he indicated that they would welcome gas bombs as a retaliatory weapon.

 

Weapons were not immediately sent, but respirators and gas helmets were, followed by other devises such as sprays.

From HQ VIII Corps, Force Order no.13, 20 July 1915, WO 95/4723 -

“All troops in firing line, support or reserve trenches are to be inspected wearing their helmets or respirators once in each 24 hours. Tins with lime water in them will be placed at intervals in all trenches and men told off to the sprayers and instructed how to use them. All sentries and lookouts to be specially warned to look out for rockets, which may have gas-generating bombs in their heads.”

 

600 cylinders of gas were sent to the MEF in August and stored at Mudros Bay, the  island of Lemnos.

Two scientists and a laboratory arrived in September, amongst other things to check the increasing number of (false) alarms. A little later they were joined by two chemists.

In December 'Detachment 189 Special Coy RE MEF' reached Mudros and the 600 cylinders already there. A further 3,000 cylinders were despatched and they arrived at Mudros on 26 December 1915. This was after the evacuation of Anzac & Suvla; these cylinders were never unloaded from the ship. The original 600 were added to the cargo and the ship, with the 3,600 cylinders, sailed for Alexandria in mid-January 1916

 

[details from the aforementioned paper by Igal Sheffy https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1191/0968344505wh317oa]

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 01/04/2021 at 12:06, michaeldr said:

Just to tidy up any loose ends here Steven: your question “was gas used in Gallipoli?received the correct answer, “NO”.

However, that does not mean that neither side considered using it.

 

De Robeck wrote to the Churchill on 19 May 1915 - ‘both Hamilton and myself strongly deprecate use of poisonous gas’, but he indicated that they would welcome gas bombs as a retaliatory weapon.

 

Weapons were not immediately sent, but respirators and gas helmets were, followed by other devises such as sprays.

From HQ VIII Corps, Force Order no.13, 20 July 1915, WO 95/4723 -

“All troops in firing line, support or reserve trenches are to be inspected wearing their helmets or respirators once in each 24 hours. Tins with lime water in them will be placed at intervals in all trenches and men told off to the sprayers and instructed how to use them. All sentries and lookouts to be specially warned to look out for rockets, which may have gas-generating bombs in their heads.”

 

600 cylinders of gas were sent to the MEF in August and stored at Mudros Bay, the  island of Lemnos.

Two scientists and a laboratory arrived in September, amongst other things to check the increasing number of (false) alarms. A little later they were joined by two chemists.

In December 'Detachment 189 Special Coy RE MEF' reached Mudros and the 600 cylinders already there. A further 3,000 cylinders were despatched and they arrived at Mudros on 26 December 1915. This was after the evacuation of Anzac & Suvla; these cylinders were never unloaded from the ship. The original 600 were added to the cargo and the ship, with the 3,600 cylinders, sailed for Alexandria in mid-January 1916

 

[details from the aforementioned paper by Igal Sheffy https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1191/0968344505wh317oa]

Michael many Gallipoli unit war diaries mention the use of a mild pepper-like gas used by the Turks but was only an irritant similar effect as tear gas. There have been discussions about this on here previously. 

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On 11/04/2021 at 09:07, Lawryleslie said:

Michael many Gallipoli unit war diaries mention the use of a mild pepper-like gas used by the Turks but was only an irritant similar effect as tear gas. There have been discussions about this on here previously. 

 

This is the only ref in Sheffy's paper which might relate to these incidents

quote:- "Willcox, meanwhile, checked fragments of these bombs and found no trace of tear gas or asphyxiating substances. GHQ MEF, therefore, officially stated that the ‘pepper bombs’, as these projectiles came to be known, contained no gas, certainly not poison gas. Nevertheless, it used the occasion again to warn the troops that ‘gas helmets should always be at hand in case the practice of using gases is resorted to’, creating the impression that the chemical menace was real and tangible."

 

edit to add:-

'Willcox' was Dr William Willcox, a toxicologist from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School (who was later knighted as an authority on forensic medicine).

He arrived at Mudros in early August 1915

Edited by michaeldr
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1 hour ago, michaeldr said:

 

This is the only ref in Sheffy's paper which might relate to these incidents

quote:- "Willcox, meanwhile, checked fragments of these bombs and found no trace of tear gas or asphyxiating substances. GHQ MEF, therefore, officially stated that the ‘pepper bombs’, as these projectiles came to be known, contained no gas, certainly not poison gas. Nevertheless, it used the occasion again to warn the troops that ‘gas helmets should always be at hand in case the practice of using gases is resorted to’, creating the impression that the chemical menace was real and tangible."

 

edit to add:-

'Willcox' was Dr William Willcox, a toxicologist from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School (who was later knighted as an authority on forensic medicine).

He arrived at Mudros in early August 1915

There are more from a thread in 2015.....

1/6th Bn Gurkha Rifles (29th Indian Bde) War Diary 9th Oct 1915. At 4 pm our howitzers bombarded the enemy's trenches on HILL 60 with HE. Enemy replied with HE and dropped 16 shells all round Battalion HQ but did no damage. This is the first HE the Turks have used on us for some time, possibly points to a fresh supply via Bulgaria. At 6:30 pm our Centre Company reported that the enemy had opened a gas cylinder. Respirators were at once put on. With the exception of a few men who suffered from smarting eyes no other ill effects were experienced.The gas passed off very quickly. Work continued throughout the night improving the trenches and sapping.


HQ 162nd Inf Bde War Dairy (54th Div) 9th Oct 1915. AGHYL DERE GALLIPOLI PENINSULA – A snipers post established in front of left centre during night, to be occupied in future by 2 men during day. Uneventful night except for the storm. Lovely day followed the storm but air considerably cooler. Desultory bombardment of SANDBAG RIDGE most of afternoon. Apparently ineffective. 19:00 – Enemy opened with MG from SANDBAG RIDGE on our working party making new fire trench on left of left sub-section, stopping work in the open. Considerable sniping from RIDGE in early part of the night. 19:05 – Wounded Turkish prisoner who has been seen in front of , and brought into, NEWBURY POST during day, brought back through firing line. Badly wounded in head and could give little account of himself. No badges or papers. 1/11th LONDON REG moved from FINSBURY VALE to camp near 92 X 6 during day, to make room for YEOMANRY BDE due to have arrived last night but delayed by storm. 20:15 – Wire received from DIV HQ stating that gas cylinder reported to have been opened by Turks in HILL 60. If correct, this is first use of gas as far as known on the Peninsula.

 

 

1/5th Bn Suffolk Regt TF War Diary 9th Oct 1915. Orders received that Bn will be relieved by 1/4th NORFOLKS on the 10th inst. BM 1035. Casualties: 1 killed - 2406 Pte MULLEY A Coy. Evacuation 1 Officer (2nd Lt W E COCKELL) 4 OR. Ammunition expended 3,315 SAA.  Report received via 54th DIV that gas has been used in our vicinity in GURKHA trenches. BM 1935. Funeral of Pte MULLEY conducted by the Rev PIERREPONT EDWARDS in Gully in rear of trench (area 92 N 3) same evening.

 

HQ 86th Inf Bde War Diary 22nd Jul 1915: GALLIPOLI PENINSULA – 03:00 – Bde HQ disembarked from minesweeper “Newmarket” at W BEACH. The Bns of Bde disembarked on V BEACH between 11:00 21st & 04:00 22nd. The whole marched independently to GULLY BEACH where Bns were bivouacked along the shore, North of GULLY BEACH, & Bde HQ in the DIV HQ Camp. During the afternoon intelligence was received from Gen HQ’s that the Turks were expected to make a supreme effort to drive us into the sea, during the next 48 hrs, with 100,000 men, artillery reinforcements & by using gas & liquid fire. The 86th & 87th Bds in CORPS RES. 19:30 – Orders were issued for the Bde to stand to arms at 04:30 23rd.


IX Corps War Diary 

 

8th Oct 1915. Extremely heavy shelling on C BEACH and about 50 HE 5.9 inch wer put into Left Sub-Section B Sector and on road leading to it. Damage only slight. Turlisk ammunition was better than was used lately. Periscope rifles useful in trenches and keeping sniping down.  About 9 pm 3 bombs ere thrown into C Section containing a mixture non asphyxiating gas which makes men's eyes water - effect is felt 200 yards to the rear.

 

9th Oct 1915. A storm at night damaged the piers on all the beaches and several lighters were driven on shore. 1st Mtd Bde relieved 2nd in Left Sub-Section, A Section. 1/2nd Mtd Bde arrived and disembarked in the morning. 

A report was received from the Indian Brigade which joins up with SUSAK KUYU on our right flank, that the Turks had opened a gas cylinder against them - no confirmation of the report yet. ...

 

12th Oct 1915. Quiet 24 hours. Turkish guns on right were most active. "Pepper" bombs referred to on 8/10/15 are still being used by the Turks but beyond making eyes water no evil effects result.

 

 

 

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Yes, there were plenty of "reports" but none of them stood up when the British scientists examined the physical evidence which was provided.

Once soldiers were told that a gas attack was possible and they were then issued with special equipment for dealing with it, then the slightest suggestion was easily exaggerated under the stress of the moment (if taken to its ultimate extreme form it would have been something akin to mass hysteria)

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Very interesting thread!! 

By any chance, does anybody manage to have access to the article quoted by @michaeldr?? I can't seem to get authorizations to access the article and the Defence library does not have the access either. 

 

M.

 

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32 minutes ago, Marilyne said:

Very interesting thread!! 

By any chance, does anybody manage to have access to the article quoted by @michaeldr?? I can't seem to get authorizations to access the article and the Defence library does not have the access either. 

 

M.

 

 

      When the academic libraries re-open to plebs like me, it should be gettable

 

image.png.6a97aa486bc962f18793082da4dcb474.png

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Thanks. I have it now ... 

 

M.

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    Good- we will give you a test on it later then. After all, as you have got into the habit of reading stuff with an exam at the end of it, we don't want you going soft, do we?:D

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who needs enemies when I have you guys??? 

 

this being said... may I take a rain check for now... because I'm supposed to be working on the Land Paper and I've been answering GWF posts and posting pictures for the last 2 hours... my colleagues are going to kill me ... 

 

CU later ! 

 

M.

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  • 3 months later...
On 13/04/2021 at 00:34, michaeldr said:

Yes, there were plenty of "reports" but none of them stood up when the British scientists examined the physical evidence which was provided.

 

I found this today in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, General Staff, Headquarters War Diary, October 1915, Part 1, page 18.

9 October 1915: The medical authorities at GHQ gave the opinion that the bombs thrown by the enemy which caused smarting to the eyes did not contain asphyxiating gas.

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