Chemical warfare is commonly thought of as some strange
new kind of warfare having it's origin In the first World
War. While it is true that all the scientific advancements
in chemical warfare have been made in and since the last war,
it's history dates "back many year3 .
Chemical warfare history goes back at least twenty-
three hundred years when the city of Platea was besieged by
the Spartans in 429 B.C. Pots of pitch, sulphur, and burning
charcoal were placed against the walla of the city by the
attackers in the hope that the irritating gases would haraas
their foes. A century later a combination of pitch, sulphur,
tow, granulated frankincense, and pine sawdust was used in
the Peloponnesian war. This combination was known a3 Greek
fire. The value of this Greek fire was recognized by Emperor
Leo VI, who also advised throwing jars of quicklime on the
enemy's ships to suffocate him.
In 1284, in a war between Genoa and Pisa, missiles
containing lime and other alkalies were used and were effect-
ive in irritating the eyes of many of the Genoese so badly
that they could not see. In 1456, in a battle between the
Turks and the inhabitants of the beleagured city of Belgrade,
the Christian victory was due completely to their crude
chemical devices. The Turks were beating the Christian
defenders and had almost succeeded in penetrating the walls
of the city when suddenly at a prearranged plan the Christians
began began hurling down upon the enemy bundles of burning
sulphur steeped brush wood. The Tur^s perished by the thousands
in the flame3 and fumeg and fled.
In the Middle Ages gas stink bombs were known and used.
The Chinese and Malay pirates had a form of chemical warfares
in their 3tink pots. Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1631
learned how to use screening smokes and won several battles
through their use. The value of screening 3mokes quickly
became known and thereafter screening smokes were used
In the Crimean war the British conceived the Idea of
using 3Ulphur fumes to subdue strongholds. The suggestion
wag made by Lord Dundonald in I885. The suggestion was
rejected on the score of its inhumanity. Lord Dundonald 's
scheme was supposedly reviewed by German chemists and im-
proved during the World War.
The diplomats at the Hague convention realized the
possibilities of chemical warfare and made a treaty limiting
the use of chemical warfare agents. This treaty was signed
by all the countries represented except the United states and
In World War I poison gas was first used by the Germaas
on April 22, 1915, notwithstanding the fact that they had
signed the Hague treaty. The results were disasterous for
the Allies who suffered some 20,000 casualties and retreated.
So new and unaccountable was the first attack that the
Germans had no inkling of it's success. It has been said
that if the German High Command had known the real situation
at the close of the first gas attack the outcome of the war
would have been much different and the result much quicker.
The Allies immediately had to cope with the situation and
the race to develop chemical warfare started. The gas mask
was quickly developed and then a succession of gases and
implements such as mustard ga3 , phosgene, and the chemical
mortar made their appearance before the end of the war.
Chemical warfare has not yet been used in the present
war extensively. Our own Chemical Warfare Service has been
active in keeping up with all the advancements in chemical
warfare and we may feel sure that if and when chemical
warfare is used by the enemy we are prepared to retaliate.