By: Reema Patel
What is gas attack?
Primary types of gases used in WW1
Lachrymator - tear gas. This caused temporary blindness and serious irritation to the nose and throat of the victims. It was used more for harassment of troops engaged in close fighting or operating machine guns. A gas mask offered good protection.
Sternutator gasses - poisonous gas, chlorine, phosgene and diphosgene. Chlorine gas mixes with moisture so it will attack the eyes and lungs. Phosgene was used in lieu of chlorine. It caused much less coughing in the initial assault and more of it was inhaled causing a delayed effect. Often a soldier could be taken down up to 48 hours after the attack. It was later mixed with chlorine to cause the vapor to be spread more widely and more deadly. It was usually delivered in high explosive shells leaving the troops unable to immediately recognize its presence.
Suffocating gasses - Caused severe edema of the lungs and death from asphyxiation could come within hours. No mask could protect a soldier from mustard gas. It penetrated all clothing and was remarkably persistent on the soil or on foliage over which it had been scattered. These factors tended to increase its effectiveness; in addition to the physical action of the gas on the men themselves, the morale of troops was impaired. It was almost odorless and caused serious blisters both internally and externally.