A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World by Marion Leslie Girard

By Marion Leslie Girard

The arrival of poison gasoline in international conflict I surprised Britons in any respect degrees of society, but by way of the top of the clash their country was once a pacesetter in chemical war. even supposing by no means used at the domestic entrance, poison gasoline affected virtually each phase of British society bodily, mentally, or emotionally, proving to be an armament of overall battle. via cartoons, army files, novels, treaties, and different resources, Marion Girard examines the various methods varied sectors of British society seen chemical struggle, from the industrialists who promoted their poisonous guns whereas protecting inner most keep watch over of production, to the politicians who used fuel whereas balancing the necessity for victory with the chance of constructing a name for barbarity. even supposing so much Britons thought of fuel a vile weapon and a symptom of the enemy’s inhumanity, many finally condoned its use. The public debates concerning the way forward for gasoline prolonged to the interwar years, and facts finds that the taboo opposed to poison fuel used to be faraway from inevitable. a wierd and bold Weapon uncovers the advanced historical past of this weapon of overall warfare and illustrates the widening involvement of society in battle. (20090401)

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Additional resources for A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas (Studies in War, Society, and the Militar)

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He could think clearly about bringing the might of Britain’s scientific resources to bear in order to make the nation’s response as strong as possible. His primary remark addressed the legal implications of the Germans’ actions. In the first place, in his mind, the recent events were illegal; in the second place, they were beyond the pale of civilized behavior. He did not rule out the possibility of offensive actions by the army, but neither did he condone or even refer to French’s request for them.

Indd 22 2/29/2008 9:31:18 AM Introduction |  gas certainly tainted air, had been associated with lethal threats in the past. Long before the germ theory of disease appeared, the miasmatic theory dominated the medical scene. In this philosophy, bad air caused disease; for example, it was believed that swamp breezes, not the mosquitoes that lived in marshes, led to malaria. 79 Thus, the idea that air could be deadly was not new, and the dangers of poison gas were easy to comprehend and fit into an existing framework of threats to human life.

Gas can also be used as an auxiliary weapon. In this situation, it is part of a larger attack and its goal is to demoralize or disrupt the enemy before an infantry assault. 72 These other standards by which to determine the effectiveness of gas are difficult either to measure or to quantify. During World War I, scientists enabled societies to use gas, politicians approved gas warfare, and armies waged it. Clearly this weapon was seen as either sufficiently useful—it certainly enhanced the effectiveness of other weapons by demoralizing the Germans—or at least worth trying, even though there were not any absolute figures confirming it as a casualty maker or quantifying its effectiveness on other grounds.

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