Research Paper on the Use of Chemical Warfare in World War I

Topics: World War I, Chemical warfare, Chlorine Pages: 11 (2131 words) Published: September 18, 2014


To What Extent Were Chemical Weapons Effective in World War II?

Word Count: 1701

Table of Contents

A. Plan of Investigation 3
B. Summery of Evidence 4-6
C. Evaluation of Sources6-7
D. Analysis 8-9
E. Conclusion 9-10
F. Bibliography 11-12
To What Extent Were Chemical Weapons Effective in World War I?

A. Plan of Investigation
This investigation will assess the extent that chemical weapons were effective in World War I. In order to do so, this investigation will begin at the first use of chemical weaponry in 1914. It will include key points of their uses in battles. It contains developments and counteraction of chemical warfare in World War I. It will include the evaluation of the success of chemical weapons including the evolution of both the weapons themselves and the development of health care to offset their effect. The investigation will also involve the chemical aspect of the weapons; however will not explicitly go into detail about the reactions taking place in the gases themselves. Lastly, the investigation will provide evidence of the decrease in effectiveness of chemical weapons in a military setting, and only were effective as a scare tactic. Two sources are The Manual of Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Warfare Agents by Dr. Jules Bebie as well as “Chemical Warfare and Medical Responses During World War I,” an article written by Dr. Gerald J. Fitzgerald. Both sources will be evaluated for their origins, purposes, value, and limitations pertaining to the topic.

This investigation is limited to World War I uses of chemical weapons by both axis and allied powers and will not go into detail about geographic scope or military strategies not pertaining to the use of chemical warfare.

B. Summery of Evidence
The first sighting of chemical weapons in World War I was by the French, who fired tear gas rifles at enemies in November of 1914. (Jules Bebie: “Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics and Chemical Agents”) German scientists studied wind patterns and assessed that French soldiers would not be able to escape the trenches. The First militarily mass killings caused by Chemical Warfare was during the Second Battle of Ypres when Germans used chlorine gas to kill 5000 Allied soldiers and scare 10,000 others from continuing an assault. During the Third battle of Ypres Allied forces used mustard gas on Axis soldiers. They pushed the Germans back five miles at the cost of 400,000 Allied lives. (Jules Bebie: “Explosives, Military Pyrotechnics, and Chemical Agents”) The attack broke a seven-kilometer hole in the French lines. The Germans did not pursue the French. At Loos in 1915, the British attempted a chlorine gas attack on the Germans by placing the gas in a revolving cylinder, however the wind shifted directions causing the gas to be blown back at the British soldiers. More British soldiers were hurt by friendly fire than casualties of the Germans at the battle of Loos. A new delivery method was established by releasing gas through artillery shells. Gas Masks were a mandatory part of a soldier’s uniform toward the end of the war, which scientists proved to be effective against chlorine gases used by the Germans in World War I. (Gerald J. Fitzgerald: Chemical Warfare and Medical Response During World War I) In July 1917 the Germans deployed a new gas, mustard gas, which instead of being inhaled like the other chemical agents, affected the skin it touched. (Tim Cook: No Place to Run) New medical strategies were developed to combat this new gas. Hot soap showers became a mandatory battlefield asset. If a soldier were exposed for over 30 minutes, he would begin to blister. The soap and hot water would counteract the gases reaction with the skin. (Gerald J. Fitzgerald: Chemical Warfare and Medical Response During World War I) Chlorine gas would be dropped on civilians, who did not have equipment to protect themselves. Mustard gas casualties...

Bibliography: D. Analysis
The first effective use of chemical weapons in World War I (The Chemist’s War) came when German troops launched 160 tons of chlorine gas toward French lines (April 22, 1915)
"Chemical Warfare during WWI." Chemical Warfare during WWI. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. .
"Chemical Warfare." Chemical Warfare. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. .
Heller, Charles E.. Chemical warfare in World War I: the American experience, 1917-1918. Fort Leavenworth, Kan.: Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College ;, 1985. Print.
"History of CW use." History of CW use. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. .
Blodgett, Brian . "Germany 's Use of Chemical Warfare in World War I." . firstworldwar.com, 22 Aug. 2009. Web. 16 Apr. 2014. .
Cook, Tim. No place to run: the Canadian Corps and gas warfare in the First World War. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1999. Print.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "lewisite (chemical compound)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. .
Duffy, Michael . "Weapons of War- Poison Gas." . firstworldwar.com, 22 Aug. 2009. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .
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