More curious than anything was a low cloud of yellow-grey smoke or vapour, and, underlying everything,a dull confused murmuring.Plainly something terrible was happening. What was it? Officers, and Staff officers too, stood gazing at the scene, awestruck and dumbfounded; for in the northerly breeze there came a pungent nauseating smell that tickled the throat and made our eyes smart. The horses and men were still pouring down the road. two or three men on a horse, I saw, while over the fields streamed mobs of infantry, the dusky warriors of French Africa; away went their rifles, equipment, even their tunics that they might run the faster.One man came stumbling through our lines. An officer of ours held him up with levelled revolver, "What's the matter, you bloody lot of cowards?" says he. The Zouave was frothing at the mouth, his eyes started from their sockets, and he fell writhing at the officer's feet. "Fall in!" Ah! we expected that cry; and soon we moved across the fields in the direction of the line for about a mile. The battalion is formed into line, and we dig ourselves in."This document shows one of the bad sides of advancement in war technology. The side that no one likes to see. The side where the new weapon is seen as a murderer. The side thats covered in blood. This was the first time that the horrible weapon known as poison gas was ever used. Imagine having something that you have never seen before attacking you, making your eyes water, making it impossible to breath, and then finally killing you. Its scary. Its like playing a friend of yours in a video game you have never played and them using tricks that you don't know against you. Its unexpected and you don't understand what happened or how they did them. Its almost unfair, sort of cheating. One side has technology that the other doesn't. It wasn't even until September of the same year that Britain got the technology.Sources:http://firstworldwar.com/diaries/firstgasattack.htm http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/poison_gas_and_world_war_one.htm
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I chose a document from WWI that corresponded to the use of gas bombs during the war. Although the passage was only a short journal entry from a soldier, there was no extensive use of words needed. It is clear to see that they were powerful and widely used weapon amongst the war.
According to firstworldwar.com, the French were the first to use all gas-related weapons. They used these weapons against the Germans, who were the first to conduct in-depth studies of the grenades and in turn used them on a larger scale. The first type of bomb-shell the French used caused the enemy to undergo a “violent fit of sneezing,” says firstworldwar.com. It was fired in liquid form and would vaporize in the below freezing degree weather. This weapon also came in the form of Mustard Gas. Mustard Gas was an odorless chemical which caused both internal and external blisters. There was hardly any protection against this gas which caused it to be beneficial for those who were not the enemy. The other forms it came in was tear gas, phosgene and chlorine, all dangerous and popularly used as weapons.
According to Wikipedia.com, “The killing capacity of gas, however, was limited – only four percent of combat deaths were due to gas. Because it was possible to develop effective countermeasures against attacks, gas was unlike most other weapons of the period. In the later stages of the war, as the use of gas increased, its overall effectiveness diminished.”
As one can see, although gas weapons came in multiple shapes and forms, it was used universally by many throughout WWI. Although it was not as powerful as machine guns and other rifles of that sort, it was a quick and efficient way to get the enemy scared and out of hiding.
Memoirs & Diaries - The German Gas Attack at Ypres, April 1915
Utterly unprepared for what was to come, the [French] divisions gazed for a short while spellbound at the strange phenomenon they saw coming slowly toward them.
Like some liquid the heavy-coloured vapour poured relentlessly into the trenches, filled them, and passed on.
For a few seconds nothing happened; the sweet-smelling stuff merely tickled their nostrils; they failed to realize the danger. Then, with inconceivable rapidity, the gas worked, and blind panic spread.
Hundreds, after a dreadful fight for air, became unconscious and died where they lay - a death of hideous torture, with the frothing bubbles gurgling in their throats and the foul liquid welling up in their lungs. With blackened faces and twisted limbs one by one they drowned - only that which drowned them came from inside and not from out.
Others, staggering, falling, lurching on, and of their ignorance keeping pace with the gas, went back.
A hail of rifle fire and shrapnel mowed them down, and the line was broken. There was nothing on the British left - their flank was up in the air. The northeast corner of the salient around Ypres had been pierced. From in front of St. Julien away up north toward Boesinghe there was no one in front of the Germans.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
One point this source makes about the Causes of WWI, is that there are many theories about the German's initial involvement the war. Many people believe that the Germans had been planning for an all out attack on the allied forces long before the war had even broke out. Historians believe this because the leaders of Germany had met roughly 18 months before the war, and it was clear that Wilhelm and many of his advisers were, to say the least, feeling particularly aggressive, and inclined to potentially spark a war.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
The ambulance groups experienced much of what the soldiers were. They woke up very early, and they immediately were assigned to the trenches. The men viewed the scenes of broken buildings and destroyed cities. During this time, they used black men to repair bridges. Around the trenches were multiple graves. The sight was terrible. Overall, these troops had a good look into the war and experienced the aftermath of combat.
Thomas Fredrick Littler's diary takes place in 1916, right in the middle of World War I. When Littler turned 17, he joined the Cheshire Regiment right when the war had just begun. He was stationed in four different locations for training before being sent off to war: Aberystwyth, Cambridge, Northampton and Norwich. In March of 1916, Littler was sent off to fight in WWI for the Foreign Service. After being shot in the leg in April 1916, Littler had no choice but to go back home. He got married in England and began a career in engineering, which would eventually lead him back to France where he had been fighting in a war years earlier. Many of his posts describe his struggle in battle, as he watched many of his comrades around him die of disease and war.
Littler's description of war conditions sounds extremely harsh. He talks about how many man were knee deep in mud, indicating that weather conditions were poor. Additionally, in this specific entry he described fighting in an abandoned town. All of the people had evacuated because the area was subject to heavy fire constantly. Littler describes how everything in the town had been destroyed except for one crucifix that remained untouched. This indicates that many of the soldiers may have been devout Christians who intentionally avoided shooting down the crucifix, or perhaps it was a mere coincidence that the cross still stood, since many Ottomans were not Christian.
Source (TF Littler's Diary, published by his descendants): http://www.first-world-war.co.uk/thediary.htm#06061916
Monday, February 1, 2010
T.f. Littler was born in 1897 and fought in France. His diary is from 1914-1919. He trainer in Norwich and Northampton before going to England where he then went to France. He met his wife in England. The following is from July 1st 1916.
"After having had our rum issue we stood to till 7-25a.m when we put up a smoke screen and went over the top at 7-30 with the London Scottish and Queens Westminster Rifles, we took four lines of trenches from the Germans, but were driven back by midday to our original position, our losses were very heavy although we took many prisoners, I could not attempt to write all that happened this day, so I'll leave a cutting from the paper here. The casualties from my Battalion were A Company 112, B Company 62, C Company 91, D Company 25, in my platoon we lost the following men Lieutenant Leigh, who had taken over from Lieut. Larne, was wounded the left arm blown off, Private Harry Wakefield, Private Wilfred Carter, killed, Private Jack White, Private Frank Walker, missing, and Private Harry Frodsham, Private Sam Mellor, and Private George Parker wounded, L-Cpl R Eaton, and L-Cpl Harry Carveley wounded, the following men died of wounds during the following week Sgt Piers, L-Cpl J Kinsey, and Private Albert Clarke, Private Jack Perrin, and Private Sidney Jones, we left the line this night being too weak in numbers to hold it, and got back to Souastre about 12-30 p.m."
Through the night we sped on our way down the Aegean Archipelago, and the following evening, a Sunday, saw our real encounter with the U-boat that had dogged us so relentlessly. Without one moment's warning, a terrific explosion occurred, made hideous by the splintering into matchwood of great timbers, the crash of falling glass and the groaning of steel girders wrenched asunder, followed by the hissing rush of escaping steam from the ship's boilers.
Nobody needed enlightening as to the fact that the old Arcadian, which had so often completed the Eastern trip, had received a "Blighty" one, and was shortly due for Davey Jones's locker.
If doubts existed, these were soon dispelled, since, having given one convulsive shudder from end to end, the great ship began to settle down on her port side with the loose deck paraphernalia slithering about in all directions and dropping into the sea.
To get away easier, I discarded my military boots, and donned a life-belt. On reaching the side of the ship and peering over, one of the two small boats which had survived the explosion was to be seen putting away full to overflowing with men. Nothing else remained but to make the descent into the sea by a rope conveniently to hand, and this I attempted.
Unfortunately, my equilibrium on the ship's rail was disturbed by someone in great haste to be among the rescued, and, falling, my arm became jammed at the wrist between two steel uprights employed as supports.
For moments that seemed long years, I was dangling from the side of the rapidly sinking Arcadian, but was rescued just in time from that perilous position by two comrades, one easing my weight from underneath the shoulders while the other wrenched the caught arm from the fixture.
I do not know the identity of my rescuers to this day. Seizing the means of escape, I shinned quickly down into the sea - my hands suffering badly from rope-burns, and was surprised to find the water comfortably warm. My attire consisted of trousers, shirt and socks.
This account was written by Trooper Reginald Huggins who enlisted in 1915. This takes place in 1917. He was aboard the boat Transport Arcadian in the Aegian Sea. During the time the Submarine Blockade was in full swing trying to defeat Great Britain at sea. The ship was led to the African coast by a Japanese Destroyer, who was there for their protection. When they were in sight of the coast they spotted a submarine, so they took shelter in a skinny river in North Africa's cost where they were bottled up for 3 days. After 3 days they set back out to sea, but later on encountered the U boat, who without hesitation, destroyed the boat with a torpedo and forced the writer of the diary to abandon ship.
"Our real encounter with the U-boat that had dogged us so relentlessly. Without one moment's warning, a terrific explosion occurred." In this quote he is talking about being torpedoed by a German U boat. U boats were submarines built and operated by the Germans. "U" stands for undersea boat. The submarines were mostly used for economic warfare blockading the British convoys and trade ships that were bringing supplies from the British Empire to Great Britain. They were also very powerful, and useful in destroying enemy vessels, and were a great advantage in sea battle. They were gas powered and armed with torpedos, making them particularly dangerous because they could stay under water for weeks at a time and sneak up on ships and destroy them. They were vulnerable though when they surfaced for oxygen because they were powered by gasoline engines.
All information came from here:
In October 1917 he sailed to join the 3/4 King's African Rifles as a lieutenant. He kept a diary from then on until January 1919 as he sailed for home.
On January 26, 1915, he was doing a platoon drill and bayonet fighting, and ammunition, preparing for the war. The soldiers had been leaving on random destinations, and some people were hopeful that they would be brought to Edinburgh Castle or Inverness. After his afternoon parade he found himself and two of his fellow soldiers on a similar mission. A man named Russel, and Jim Matheson were selected to go with him. They paraded for 15 minutes, before realizing that they were supposed to do picket duty at the Herring Green crossroads with orders to stop all cars and take inventory.
A War Nurses's Diary takes place in the Belgian Military Hospital that were staffed by English surgeons and nurses. The environment of these military hospitals consisted of lots of expensive and high tech (for this century) machinery with millions of wounded soldiers, marines, and even nurses. “I am resolved to put all my strength at the service of my adopted country, since I cannot do anything for my unfortunate native country just now...” --letter from Marie Curie to Paul Langevin, January 1, 1915. Madama Curie was the founder of the "petite Curie" which was new and improved van vehicle that carried X-rays to the Front. These vans were operated by the Red Cross Foundation, which became a huge organization due to World War I. The X-ray system was the most interesting and necessary department in the entire hospital. Madame Curie was one of the first to discover radium. She woke up every morning around 5 am to start taking X-rays of the people in terrible pain. The summer rain made them put upp tents and covers for the machines and other hospital items. Some activities the patients enjoyed included, three times a week band playing, beds and mattresses were brought out in the shade of the trees, while officers and soldiers visited their wounded friends. "Meals were served outside to them, and the staff had a long table under the trees where they took our meals." Round at the back were the huts where they had entertainments. Many different people were involved in enlightening the patients faces and making them feel as strong as possible.
The larger significance of this snippet of a nurse's diary talks about the suffering of the soldiers and that their living conditions were nothing compared to what we have today in our hospitals. The staff inside the hospitals focused on keeping the soldiers who were wounded or sickness to express a positive attitude even though it was probably the last thing on their minds. Lastly, Madama Curie, the nurses in the hospitals, etc all were a huge impact on the technological advancement during World War I.
The picture above shows some of the nurses and doctors in the war and how little amount there are compared to now. The person in the black uniform and who seems more unique than the others is Madame Curie and she is famous for discovering radium.
I am penning these as I find myself sitting at one of the dining tables at the Salvation Army rest for soldiers in London, Blighty. Am on my way back to France after 14 days furlough and seven days extension which was granted to me by the Royal Engineer Records Chatham. I left Stafford this morning with my little boy at 11.37 am and went first to Warwick where I left Derrick in the care of Mr. and Mrs. Kendrick at 48 Avon Street. I think that these forced partings from the little chap, who is so dear to me, have caused me deeper and more cruel pain, than all other pains that I have known. If there is such a thing as love in this world, it must be surely just like that, how little Dux is loved by me. Left Warwick at 5.58 pm and arrived at Paddington at 9.10 pm. Took a bus to Victoria station and passed by the Marble Arch and Saint James Park, which was profusely decorated with flags and bunting in honour I suppose of the visit of the American president, who arrived today. At Victoria station went into the free buffet, and had a sandwich and cup of tea. Wreaths in the evergreen and other laurel decorations were hanging up everywhere and welcome greetings to the soldiers were emblazoned in large letters upon the walls, one inscription ran something like this “We pray for all who have died and we thank all for bringing us victory and peace” another ran “Welcome home the nation thanks you”. Was directed by a gentleman to board a small motor lorry, which had two seats down the centre and a roof, something after the style of the well known Irish “stage coach”. This vehicle took a party of us to the pace where I am now and where I have engaged a bed no 182 for the night for the price of half a shilling.
This diary describes the wartime experiences of a German soldier during WWI. He describes the scene of a mass burial of soliders that were buried in rows of 23 and stacked 2 people high. This seems pretty normal for WWI because of how often people were getting mowed down my machine guns or blown to pieces by mortars. However, at this particular burial site, one man noticed that one of the men being buried still had life in his limbs. He saw that man move his fingers. The grave diggers had buried a man alive next to almost 50 other bloody bodies without even taking a second look to make sure he was dead. The supervisor of this burial asked the people who were doing the actual burying if they made sure everyone was dead before they buried them. A simple "yes" was enough to convince the supervisor that no living soldiers were being buried. They knew that there were almost definitely live soldiers being buried still, but they simply kept going.
This entry kind of disturbs me because of how little the supervisor of the grave seems to care about burying people alive. He didn't even go over to check on more of the bodies while they were being buried and when he found out a solider had been buried alive, all that he needed to continue burying all of the bodies his eye could see was a simple "yes" that made sure that all of the buried bodies were dead. This passage also shows just how much violence was going on in WWI. There were so many motionless, bloody, disfigured bodies laying around that some people couldn't even tell if they were dead or not. The grave diggers were just burying everything that was on the ground without paying much attention to what they were actually burying so they wouldn't fall behind with their work. No soldier should need to add to his list of fears the fear of being buried alive by a man from his own side of the fight.
A German Deserter's War Experience: VIII
NEARLY BURIED ALIVE ON THE BATTLEFIELD