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Remembered Today:

Gas


stuartd
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An article appeared in a recent edition of the Daily Telegraph about a diary that had surfaced from a soldier who had served on the Somme and had fought on the opening day. Apart from the usual inaccuracies which I have now come to expect from newspaper reports, it mentions that use of gas by the Germans on the opening day. This is the first I have heard of this. Can anyone shed any light about the use of gas on the Somme?

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From my Osprey book on Gas in WW1 that came out earlier this year: 'During the Battle of the Somme the Germans fired Green Cross shells on about twelve occasions in July and nine times in August – September, mainly against the British, causing 2,800 casualties.'

Green Cross shells contained phosgene, a lethal lung irritant gas.

Regards

S

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The Germans used a great deal of tear gas in the second half of 1915 and first half of 1916, although fatalities from it were exceptional, for example if a shell burst in an enclosed space, or the case of a British soldier who drank the liquid from an unexploded shell.

S

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The Germans used a great deal of tear gas in the second half of 1915 and first half of 1916, although fatalities from it were exceptional, for example if a shell burst in an enclosed space, or the case of a British soldier who drank the liquid from an unexploded shell.

S

Could you expand on this tale of drinking liquid from an unexploded shell? Sounds most curious!

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Reading through the History of the 7th Service Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment (Pioneers) in which my Grandfather served on the Somme "A and B Companies were constructing deep communication trenches and placing gas cylinders in the front line.He also mentions having to get gas cylinders ready from 10th -19th June near a place called Meaulte for the attack on the Somme.This we found written in a field message book along with some other interesting bits of information.

Not sure if the British or Germans used gas on the first day,but from reading the history of the Battalion my Grandfather was with,we were certainly prepared.

Joan

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From my Osprey book on Gas in WW1 that came out earlier this year: 'During the Battle of the Somme the Germans fired Green Cross shells on about twelve occasions in July and nine times in August – September, mainly against the British, causing 2,800 casualties.'

Green Cross shells contained phosgene, a lethal lung irritant gas.

Great book, isn't it? :) received mine a week ago...

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Could you expand on this tale of drinking liquid from an unexploded shell? Sounds most curious!

Stuart

I read the file about this getting on for twenty-five years ago and have just been looking through my notes to see what I have. I find it was file ‘DGS/M/57 which you will find in the National Archives under reference WO142/106 but I didn’t take any other notes at the time. What could be the same incident is recorded in the medical official history dealing with gas warfare, Diseases of the War Vol. II, this describes a soldier drinking some of the British ethyl iodoacetate liquid (called SK) used for training troops in box respirators, under the impression that it was liquor. He died 29 hours later despite having his stomach washed out almost immediately.

Landsturm,

Thanks! Forum advertising rules mean I couldn’t comment.

B)

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it mentions that use of gas by the Germans on the opening day. This is the first I have heard of this. Can anyone shed any light about the use of gas on the Somme?

According to several regimental histories, Thiepval Wood and several spots to the north were bombarded with gas on the afternoon and evening of 1st July hampering casualty evacuation, but not quite bad enough to render the line untenable.

Dave.

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According to Jack Sheldon, possibly other sources, and my dodgy memory, the British, during the long (8 day?) barrage leading up to the July 1 assault, several times tried a cylinder gas release, not achieving much success, I think, and several times a fiasco, with shifting wind blowing the stuff back into the UK trenches.

Bob Lembke

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