Chemical Warfare During The First World War

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Chemical Warfare in the First World War The First World War, while engulfing Europe with four years of death and destruction, also served as something of a testing ground, allowing nations to test and deploy the newest and most high tech weapons in their arsenals. It is from these experiences, on the bitter, mud drenched fields of Flanders, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere, that many technologies that shape the modern battlefield today, such as the air plane or the tank, were first put to use on a grand scale. It is here too, that another weapon was unleashed upon humanity for first time, but this one was deemed so sinister that the nations of the world near unanimously agreed to ban once the war ended. A weapon so awful that even today, …show more content…

Its use, however, despite its non-lethality, served to set a dangerous precedent for the war. German planners wasted no time in developing their own incapacitating agents to retaliate with, and before long something of a chemical weapons arms race was underway. The German chemical response finally came that October, when British forces at Neuve Chapelle were hit with a wave of xylyl bromide, and apparently the Germans like what they saw. In January, they decided to turn their new weapon against the Russian army, in what they hoped would send their opponents running beneath a thick cloud of tear gas. To create this cloud, nearly 20,000 shells were filled with teargas and unleashed on the Russian positions west of Warsaw. Unfortunately for the Germans, however, they did not take into account the frigid conditions that occur in Central Poland in July, and most of the gas froze, the shells harmlessly falling to earth amongst a bewildered Czarist force. In light of the developments on the Eastern Front, as well as the fact that xylyl bromide was found to corrode metals and thus posed a logistics nightmare for the men transporting the shells, the German army began looking for alternatives and finally

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