Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source5
British Army source documenting the impact of gas attacks, 1917
(Catalogue ref: WO 32/5176)
  • One of the most feared new weapons developed during the Great War was poison gas. The Germans first used it in 1915, but by 1918 gas shells were widely used by both sides.
  • Overall, the psychological fear of gas was probably greater than its actual impact. As long as soldiers were able to get their gas masks on they were usually safe. Casualties from gas were small compared to those caused by artillery.
  • Gas was often an unreliable weapon because it was so unpredictable, the biggest problem being the wind direction.
  • The first gas used was chlorine, though all sides used many other chemical weapons as the war went on. This source describes the use of a new type of chemical in German shells.
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