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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Gas Manufacturers


PhilB

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I believe that some of the German firms that manufactured war gases in WW1 are still in business. I don`t recall hearing of their British equivalents. Who were they? Phil B

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This is the one that springs to mind:-

"Bayer is implicated in the development of chemical weapons. During WW1 Bayer was involved in the development and manufacture of a range of poisonous gasses used in the trenches, including chlorine gas and mustard gas. As part of IG Farben, Bayer were also involved in the development of the next generation of chemical warfare agents, toxic organophosphate compounds."

I`m not sure whether British production was in private hands or in government factories. Phil B

Interestingly, Bayer`s slogan today is "Science for a better life"!

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I had a chat with a chap last week who used to work in the construction industry. He said that gas was made at the old Beckton gas works and that they uncovered some containers that were marked as containing some sort of gas (can't remember what he said they were) when they were reconstructing the site. They turned out to be empty.

Mick

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I read that I.G. Farben's research on organophosphorus compounds in the 1930s was originally for the development of insecticides. Later the "G" series of nerve agents were developed for the Wehrmacht.

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Thanks. Sounds like these were the British sites, for chlorine at least:-

In 1914, the UK brine electrolysis industry was represented by the Castner Kellner mercury cell works at Weston Point and the Electro-Bleach Company’s Hargreaves Bird diaphragm cell Works at Middlewich. The wartime demand for chlorine led to government pressure and the United Alkali Company imported Gibbs diaphragm cells from the USA in 1915. There were-not-well-documented government operated cellrooms of German type diaphragm cells, certainly at Middlewich, and possibly others elsewhere. The United Alkali Company’s early Gibbs Cellrooms were at Sullivan Works, Widnes, and Hardshaw Brook Works at St Helens. Later installations were at Allhusen’s Works, Gateshead, Hillhouse at Fleetwood and Wade Works at Northwich.

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http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/e...ffd/index.shtml

Although not strictly WW1 this is a fascinating site I just found

A good description of what Mustard Gas is.

After reading the "Mustard Gas" link for further enjoyment proceed to bottom of the page for

"Molecule of the month"

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I have a book, "Didsbury in Photographs" by Ernest France, which mentions Herbert Levinstein " a Doctor of Chemistry and well known for his work in the development of mustard gas in the first world war". I think he had something to do with dye manufacture.

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More Levinstein stuff here, a talk he gave in 1934 which describes him as the Empires leading expert on gas warfare.

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A quick Google turned this info up on Herbert Levinstein and dye making. Very interesting how dye making and gas manufacture were linked in both Germany and Britain.

The modern equivalent association I suspect would be " Food additives" and "Chemical nerve agents"

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This site gives some more info on Levinstein and mustard gas

When, however, the brilliant researches, referred to above, on the mustard gas method had decided our policy, the dye factory of Levinstein Limited vigorously converted the process into a technical success, and what was still a laboratory reaction in the spring of 1917 became a successful manufacturing process in July of that year.
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Levinsteins Ltd had a factory in Blackley, Manchester, and aquired the sequestered Hoechst indigo factory at Ellesmere Port at the begining of the war.

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  • 8 months later...

Just to add to the mix, a few years ago a sizeable batch of possibly mustard gas was found buried in drums on Wigg Island, which is a small island off Runcorn on the Mersey, it is near to Runcorn Town centre. They have since been removed and the site is now cleaned up and is a nature reserve or similiar. Soldier 75 Harry

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