By Marion Leslie Girard
The arrival of poison fuel in international struggle I surprised Britons in any respect degrees of society, but by means of the tip of the clash their kingdom was once a pacesetter in chemical conflict. even supposing by no means used at the domestic entrance, poison gasoline affected nearly each phase of British society bodily, mentally, or emotionally, proving to be an armament of overall conflict. via cartoons, army files, novels, treaties, and different resources, Marion Girard examines the various methods assorted sectors of British society considered chemical conflict, from the industrialists who promoted their poisonous guns whereas holding deepest keep watch over of production, to the politicians who used fuel whereas balancing the necessity for victory with the danger of constructing a name for barbarity. even supposing such a lot Britons thought of fuel a vile weapon and a symptom of the enemy’s inhumanity, many finally condoned its use. The public debates in regards to the way forward for fuel prolonged to the interwar years, and proof unearths that the taboo opposed to poison fuel was once faraway from inevitable. a wierd and bold Weapon uncovers the complex background of this weapon of overall conflict and illustrates the widening involvement of society in struggle. (20090401)
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Additional info for A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas (Studies in War, Society, and the Militar)
Of course, other weapons and means of ﬁghting had overcome the condemnation originally heaped upon them; early riﬂemen and the ﬁrst guns were seen as ignoble because they undercut the socially privileged and thoroughly trained knights and cavalry. indd 23 2/29/2008 9:31:18 AM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Introduction also worked, sometimes invisibly, as a weapon of mass, impersonal destruction.
If there was such a strong dislike of gas among the international community, why did The Hague Conferences fail to outlaw chemical cylinders as well as shells? Because gas had never been used, it was unclear exactly how a chemical weapon would work. The best that the diplomats could do was to envision an existing weapon modiﬁed to deploy gas; they tried to put gas into their conceptual framework of weapons. Shells were a sophisticated, modern armament, and thus they imagined that a dedicated scientist or soldier could turn a shell into a conveyor of gas.
Thus it became increasingly burdensome that the war intensiﬁed in brutality and demanded that belligerents on both sides engage in atrocious behavior. Refraining from at least some of the new techniques of war would have left the British vulnerable to defeat; at best, therefore, they could try to limit the number of barbaric acts they committed. This was a job in which the politicians had a major role; they helped set the policies that governed Britain’s war effort. Out of necessity there was some acceptance of the new ways of war; yet at the same time, there were risks, beyond self-disgust, in adapting to the novel weapons.