The Weapons Of World War I Essay

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The weaponry of World War I proclaimed the dawning of a new era of human conflict. The days of honorable combat were replaced with weapons of mass casualties such as machine guns and explosives of catastrophic proportions. But these tools of death paled in comparison to the horrors of chemical warfare. Poison gases removed the enemy, replacing him with a faceless horror that more resembled the superstitions and ghosts of the Dark Ages than the newest scientific advantages of the 20th century. From the personal accounts surrounding the first gas attack of World War I and subsequent relevant studies, it is evident that chemical weapons were far more lethal psychologically than physically.

In the spring of 1915, the second battle of Ypres, Belgium saw the Germans release chlorine gas against the French-Algerian, Canadian, and British Allied troops across the field. The widely varied accounts of the aftermath of the attack are startling in their solidarity and horrific details. Although little is known about his personal life, British soldier Anthony Hossack wrote the most detailed account of the Ypres attack from the perspective of the British reserve force. Hossack describes the fleeing men discarding everything in order to escape: “…away went their rifles, equipment, even their tunics that they might run faster”. This was an enemy unknown.

Chlorine gas, the weapon of choice for the attack in Ypres, had a suffocating effect that could cause asphyxiation within hours.…

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