Poisonous Gas

During WWI

The First Gas Attack

"In April of 1915, the Germans launched an attack in Belgium using a new weapon---poisonous gas. The gas was released from tubes placed at intervals along the line of German trenches and was blown forward by the wind in a broad greenish-yellow cloud that rolled over the ground like a thick sickly mist. It caught the French by surprise, and shortly, German soldiers were smashing through the shocked , panic-stricken Algerians coughing in agony and completely unable to fight." (Author Tom McGowen)


"The two sides had clashed near Ypres, Belgium, in April 1915. This time the French troops faced a new danger--chlorine, a gas that is poisonous in large amounts. German soldiers opened steel tanks to release the gas, which drifted over French troops in their trenches. One French soldier described his reaction to the gas attack: "It burned my throat, cause pains in my chest, and made breathing all but impossible. I spat blood and suffered dizziness. We all thought that we were lost." (Author Michael Burgan)

The Livens Projector

The Livens Projector was a small type of mortar that would launch shells that contained poison gas. These shells would open when they came in contact with the ground and would spread the gas around.

While gas masks helped keep some victims alive, others weren't as fortunate. A gas mask was great protection from the gas but some failed after a little bit of use.

Gas Masks

While gas masks helped keep some victims alive, others weren't as fortunate. A gas mask was great protection from the gas but some failed after a little bit of use.

Early Gas Masks

The earlier version of the gas mask was created without a lot of thought because soldiers didn't think that poison gas would be used very much. This gas mask wasn't very effective because the glass eye piece would break very easily and would need to be soaked in gas repellents such as sodium hyposulphite, washing soda, glycerine, or water to make the gas mask work. Since this version of the gas mask wasn't, again, very effective, the new and improved gas mask below was created as it became more clear that more and more gas was going to be used throughout the war.

Improved Gas Masks

The new gas masks were created with better eye-pieces and a small respirator box attached by a tube to the mask in order to make it easier to breathe.

Mustard Gas

This gas may sound like it's a funny, little gas that wouldn't harm a soul but in reality it was one of the most used gases in warfare during World War I. Mustard Gas wasn't extremely fatal except when used in large doses, but the victims would suffer blisters across the body, sore eyes, blinding of the eyes, vomiting, internal and external bleeding, attacking of the bronchial tubes, and stripping of the mucous membrane. Victims who experienced fatal doses would suffer of any of these wounds for up to 5 weeks before finally dying.