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Chemical Weapons
Before gas masks were supplied to the army, how did men protect themselves from chlorine gas?

Chemical Weapons

Chemical Weapons tests your knowledge of poison gases.

Fifteen years before the outbreak of World War I the Hague convention forbade the use of poisonous gases in warfare. Despite this, chemical weapons were used by both sides during the war, causing the death and ill health of many thousands of men.

1.
The German Army was the first to use the deadly gas chlorine. This reacts with water and produces hydrochloric acid in what part of the body?
The lungs
The ears
The hands
The feet
Asphyxiation, due to lung damage, caused most chlorine gas deaths. The eyes were also vulnerable and many men were blinded
2.
The French Army was the first to use gas as a weapon during the war. What type of gas did they use?
Mustard Gas
Chlorine Gas
Tear Gas
Laughing Gas
Tear gas did not contravene the rules of the Hague convention as it was an irritant rather than a poison
3.
Before gas masks were supplied to the army, how did men protect themselves from chlorine gas?
By holding their breath
By placing a damp cloth over their faces
By using fans to disperse the gas
By putting blankets over their heads
Chlorine gas dissolves in water so damp cloths helped to lessen the damage it caused. In the absence of water, men used cloths soaked in urine
4.
Mustard gas caused burns to the skin but was less fatal than chlorine gas. The British gave mustard gas the nickname ‘HS’. What do these initials stand for?
Hell Sulfur
Hun Stuff
Harsh Spirit
Horrible Smog
The Germans called mustard gas 'yellow cross' as it came in yellow marked shells. The French called it 'Yperite' after Ypres where it was first used
5.
It is estimated that 12,408,530 men were casualties of gas attacks. What percentage of these were killed by their injuries?
7% were killed
17% were killed
27% were killed
37% were killed
Although only 7% of those affected by gas died as a direct result of their injuries, many more died years later due to the latent effects of gases and so they are not included in the figures. Many men were blinded and others suffered ill health for the rest of their lives. Cancer was also much more likely to occur in those who had been subjected to gas attacks
6.
The British first used gas at the Battle of Loos on September 25th 1915. It did not go well and much of the gas was not released on the enemy. Why was this?
The British soldiers refused to open the canisters
Orders from High Command to open the canisters did not get through
The wrong keys had been sent and the canisters could not be opened
The canisters were delayed and arrived too late in the battle
Matters were made worse when German shells hit the British gas cylinders which released their gases on the British lines
7.
The British Army condemned Germany's use of poison gas. What policy did the British make in response to it?
They withdrew British troops
They stopped using all chemical weapons
They promised never to use poison weapons themselves
They started using poison weapons themselves
A British general said of poison gas, “It is a cowardly form of warfare (but) ... We cannot win this war unless we kill or incapacitate more of our enemies than they do of us, and if this can only be done by our copying the enemy in his choice of weapons, we must not refuse to do so”
8.
If your trench was attacked by poison gas, what was the best course of action?
To stand near the top of the trench
To stand on the floor of the trench
To lie down on the floor of the trench
To evacuate the trench
The poisonous gases were heavier than air and so they gathered at the bottom of trenches. Any physical exertion made the effects of the gas worse so the best thing to do was to stand still as high up in the trench as possible
9.
On January 31st 1915 the German Army fired shells of tear gas on Russian forces during the Battle of Bolimov. The gas proved ineffective against the Russians. Why was this?
The Russians were equipped with gasmasks
The gas shells fell short of their targets
The shells exploded before they released their gas
The cold temperatures froze the gas
In the cold January weather the pressurised gas could not maintain itself as a vapour. This was, in fact, fortunate for the Germans as before it froze, the gas was being blown back towards them by the wind!
10.
Although injuries from mustard gas were rarely fatal, high doses did cause death. Victims could survive for up to how long before eventually dying from their wounds?
For five minutes
For five hours
For five days
For five weeks
As well as burning the skin, mustard gas could cause internal bleeding. It also attacked the lungs, causing a slow and agonising death

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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