Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Western Front, 22 April 1915

One hundred years ago today the Gemans launched the first gas attack on the Western Front, near Ypres, Belgium. The German army had previously tried gas on the Eastern Front on January 31, 1915, by firing nearly 20,000 gas shells, but the cold temperatures of that day prevented the gas from vaporizing, and there was little effect. It worked at Ypres. Click Here, and Here for a couple of articles. The one on the History Channel's site plays an ad, so kill your volume.

My history teacher in high school told us about an uncle who was gassed in WWI. He was basically an invalid, and lived with his family while my teacher was growing up. The man's days mostly consisted of coughing up phlegm all day so he could breathe. God Bless families who take care of their own.

Wilfred Owen wrote Dulce Ed Decorum Est in 1917, and it centers around being in a gas attack. Two years after the first gas attack, every soldier was equipped with a gas mask, but sometimes you could not get it on quickly enough...

"If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori."

1 comment:

Merle Morrison said...

Many years ago I met an old timer who had been gassed in WW 1; I believe it was mustard gas. It had eaten away his nose & part of his face, but the prosthesis helped a lot. He didn't let it stop him, as we met at a Nation Match competition.