Chemical Warfare by Lea Estien

chateau_wood_ypres_1917World War I

Chemical Weapons

How did chemical weapons changed warfare?

World War I was the start of modern wars. It is known as the  bloodiest  war, but it is also known for the sudden rise of new technology, for  an example, poison gases. These poison gases gave a lot of countries advantage towards their enemy. This was also used to overcome the unexpected stalemate in trench warfare. Chemical warfare became an indispensable strategy for different countries and a defensive mechanism on the battlefield, but they became dangerous because countries started abusing of their use; causing damages without thinking of consequences. This led to an inhuman war. These poisonous gasses changed World War 1 and future wars forever.

Poisonous gases were used to inflict harm, or even death, on human beings and even though it’s been used in modern times, there has never been such devastating effects of these gases like in World War 1. Some of the gases used were:

  1. Tear Gas (first gas to be used): blinding flow of tears and often also minor skin and respiratory irritations, such as itching and coughing.
  2. Mustard Gas (most effective and widely used): exposure to this kind of gas was extremely painful, it caused blistering, vomiting, and possibly internal bleeding.
  3. Phosgene Gas “(followed on the heels chlorine): it was      more potent (stronger) than chlorine”( Duffy, Michael . “Weapons of War – Poison Gas, Original Material © 2000-2009,, October 18, 2014.), it was a deadly gas: it made the victims cough violently and choke; this symptoms took 48 hours to manifest.
  4. Chlorine Gas (deadly): it destroyed the victim’s respiratory organs, bringing on choking attacks.



mustard-gas-ww1These gases were made to distract the enemy, harm them without having a direct contact with them, giving them advantage in the battlefield. The first country who used these harmful gasses were the French. It is believed that the Germans were the first who used gases in World War I, but the French fired tear-gas against Germans in the first month of war; Germans were the first to experiment with it and used in a large scale.Ww1 / 1917 / Gas Attack

Some of the first experiments on gases were done by Germans. Their first experiment with gases was when they attacked Neuve Chapelle in 1914, making the enemy sneeze violently. Three months later, they employed tear gas in Eastern Front for the first time in 1915. In January 1915 the Germans fired poisonous gases on larger scale to the Russians, this contained a strong form of tear gas, but this attack was nullified because of the weather. Finally, for their last experiment they fired gas to the French in March 1915. These experiments were attempts that had little impact. It was determinate that these gases weren’t for killing, they were used to distract soldiers form positions.

gas_attackHowever “German scientist developed other gases, like chlorine, a gas to kill”(J. Llewellyn et al, “Chemical weapons”, Alpha History, , October 21,2014.)This was fired to French, Britain, Canadian’s army which may them scare of these gases, but with time these countries developed technology, like mask, for these harmful gases and they found a way to protect themselves and their army against these poisonous gases. World War I was back on track.

How did chemicals weapons change warfare? 37bd6475faa6445b2f112d007346bd03

These gases changed the warfare because it made this war more advanced because bombs were now a backup plan in case the gases didn’t work. It gave countries the opportunity to harm their enemy without getting close to them. They were able to distract their enemies long enough for them to attack them and have advanced. These gases probably gave hope to soldiers of their future, but it also brought great danger. They made this war more inhuman than the others because these gases meant you were ahead of your enemies and this made countries realize they needed to step up their battle plans making them fired deadly gases without thinking of how many man could die because of their ambition. These gases were so dangerous that the Geneva control banned them in 1925:” In 1925 the Geneva Gas Protocol was signed, prohibiting the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases and of bacteriological methods of warfare. This was followed in 1929 by two further Geneva…” (Encyclopedia Britannica. “Geneva Protocal on Gas Warfare, ©2014 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,, accessed on October 23,2014.).In conclusion, these gases change warfare by giving it a new way of defeating your enemy on battlefield, but it brought more death to this bloody war.


Encyclopedia Britannica. “Geneva Protocal on Gas Warfare, ©2014 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,, accessed on October 23,2014.

Duffy, Michael . “Weapons of War – Poison Gas, Original Material © 2000-2009,, October 18, 2014.

Llewellyn et al, “Chemical weapons”, Alpha History, ,October 21,2014.

Unoda.” Chemical Weapons”, Copyright © United Nations 2014,, October 22, 2014.

History Learning Site“Poison Gas and World War One”. 2011., October 22,2014.



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