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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Gas Attacks


Swally

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Hi Guys,

My Grandfather was with the Royal Field Artillery and fought at the Somme, family lore has it that he met his brother in law in the trenches and told him to put his socks over his boots to keep his feet warm?

I would have thought that

a) this wouldn't have made his feet any warmer

B) they would have been sodden in seconds

c) Royal Field Artillery wouldn't have been in the trenches

so it is possibly a wee fib

My Grandfather was gassed at the Somme, has anyone any idea when the first gassings were and an indication of the numbers affected?

wishing you all the best,

Swally

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It is generally accepted that the first Allied casualties to a gas attack were French colonial troops and less severely affected, Canadian troops on their flank. This happened during 2nd Ypres in 1915. If you search on the Forum there is lots to be found.

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My Grandfather was gassed at the Somme, has anyone any idea when the first gassings were and an indication of the numbers affected?

Swally

Swally;

"At the Somme" might be a purely geographic designation, and then a date in 1915 would be likely.

However, if you mean "at the Somme" in the sense of at the Battle of the Somme, The Brits were most likely to have been gassed by their own forces, especially on the opening day. The cylinder gas release of July 1 by the Special Brigade largely either just moved east a bit and then just stalled, forcing the attacking troops to go thru it in their advance (but probably also providing some cover), or actually blew back into the forward British trenches, proving a problem.

Bob Lembke

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Swally;

"At the Somme" might be a purely geographic designation, and then a date in 1915 would be likely.

However, if you mean "at the Somme" in the sense of at the Battle of the Somme, The Brits were most likely to have been gassed by their own forces, especially on the opening day. The cylinder gas release of July 1 by the Special Brigade largely either just moved east a bit and then just stalled, forcing the attacking troops to go thru it in their advance (but probably also providing some cover), or actually blew back into the forward British trenches, proving a problem.

Bob Lembke

Bob

I think you're confusing this with the Loos gas attack of 25 September 1915. The British did not release cylinder gas on the Somme on 1st July 1916 but had made several discharges in the days leading up to the attack.

Swally

As a gunner your grandfather could easily have been gassed on the Somme in 1916 or 1918 by German shell gas which was used extensively to target artillery.

During the Battle of the Somme in 1916 the Germans fired Phosgene shells on about twelve occasions in July and nine times in August – September, mainly against the British, causing 2,800 casualties. In October – December thirteen gas bombardments caused about 1,300 casualties. 1918 casualties were also caused by mustard gas and were much higher, for example the week of the opening of the German offensives on 21 March saw at least 6,874 British gas casualties.

Regards

Simon

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Cheers for the replies guys,

are there any figures that tell

a) which artillery units were gassed

B) the number of casualties

c) where these units were

d) where the casualties were removed to

would being gassed be enough to have you invalided out of service?

cheers,

Swally

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Bob

I think you're confusing this with the Loos gas attack of 25 September 1915. The British did not release cylinder gas on the Somme on 1st July 1916 but had made several discharges in the days leading up to the attack.

Regards

Simon

Simon;

You are completely correct. I had just finished a book on the Battle of Loos a few days ago, and I really still don't have a focus on how it fitted into things, as the book was mostly an interesting compellation of individual memories of his experiences by veterans of the battle. The numerous references to the cylinder gas floating back into the British trenches stuck in my mind, especially as I have some interest in some of the curious aspects of Foulkes.

And I now remember the pre-attack gas discharges in the week or ten days leading up to July 1.

I confess I was in quite a 5:44 AM fog when I posted my erroronious statement.

Bob Lembke

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Don't worry Bob, the fog of war, or of cloud gas...

regards

Simon

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