By Marion Leslie Girard
The arrival of poison gasoline in global battle I surprised Britons in any respect degrees of society, but via the top of the clash their country used to be a pacesetter in chemical struggle. even if by no means used at the domestic entrance, poison fuel affected nearly each section of British society bodily, mentally, or emotionally, proving to be an armament of overall conflict. via cartoons, army files, novels, treaties, and different resources, Marion Girard examines the various methods varied sectors of British society considered chemical conflict, from the industrialists who promoted their poisonous guns whereas conserving inner most keep an eye on of production, to the politicians who used fuel whereas balancing the necessity for victory with the chance of constructing a name for barbarity. even though 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 proof unearths that the taboo opposed to poison gasoline used to be faraway from inevitable. an odd and ambitious Weapon uncovers the advanced heritage of this weapon of overall conflict and illustrates the widening involvement of society in war. (20090401)
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Additional info for A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas (Studies in War, Society, and the Militar)
Perhaps, then, since gas is a total weapon, recognizing the variety of mental, emotional, and physical impacts it has on society is the most valid way for historians and military planners to measure chemical weaponry’s effectiveness. By looking in depth at politicians’ reactions to and perceptions of gas, the mental and emotional effects will be illuminated ﬁrst. indd 25 2/29/2008 9:31:18 AM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 .
By limiting the expansion of chemical warfare, the politicians tried to protect both Britain’s ﬁghting ability and her reputation and status. indd 26 2/29/2008 9:31:19 AM Descent to Atrocities? | Politicians assumed the major responsibility for Britain’s reputation in the world as they steered their country through the brutal conﬂict. 2 This meant that London was involved in private property and business to a greater extent than ever before. 3 Those in power used a variety of techniques to maintain morale at home, reputation abroad, and the drive to victory on the various fronts.
Once the government gave approval for gas attacks, the issue of escalation arose: Should Britain introduce more sophisticated chemicals on the battlefronts? The story of gas was one of tit for tat; one side would develop a new chemical and the other would then produce and use it, too. Meanwhile, each side would improve the design of its respirators to withstand the new threats. The cycle would continue. Chemicals fell into groups, though, from lachrymatory, that is, tear gases, to fatal mixtures.