April 22nd marks a grim milestone for humankind. It was on this date in 1915 the German Army first effectively deployed chorine gas to break the stalemate on the Western Front. An abortive attempt at gassing the enemy took place at the Battle of Bolimov but the cold was so intense that the gas had liquified. Near Gravenstafel the Germans opened up over 5,700 ninety pound cylinders of deadly chlorine. A deadly cloud drifted toward the French lines and the results were a disaster. The French suffered approximately 6,000 casualties from the gas and the more conventional methods of reliving death. The gas, settled in the deep trenches, forcing soldiers to choose between painful asphyxiation or abandoning the shelter of their earthworks. The gas cleared an area of roughly four miles but the Germans had not planned for success. Additional gas attacks followed in the next few days, but even the German troops were a little leery of occupying gas enveloped positions. The allies quickly developed countermeasures to this new weapon of mass destruction. One of these was to wear cotton soaked in urine over the face. Soon soldiers, dogs, and horses alike had gas masks to protect them from chlorine and the family of new gas weapons to come.
Terry A. Del Bene
Writer- "Have Words, Will Travel"