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Gas CloudsGas was used as a weapon in the First World War by both sides. It was meant to instil confusion amongst troops prior to a major attack. Some gases, like tear gas, had a temporary effect and some could be lethal, for example mustard gas.

Key

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Printable task sheet


Look at the table below. You’ll see that the CWGC commemorates over 8,000 people who died as a result of poison gas. Even if death did not occur quickly from the use of gas, health was often permanently impaired.

First World War Casualties from Gas

Nations

Non-fatal

Deaths

Total

Commonwealth

180,597

8,109

188,706

France

182,000

8,000

190,000

United States

71,345

1,462

72,807

Italy

55,373

4,627

60,000

Russia

419,340

56,000

475,340

Germany

191,000

9,000

200,000

Austria - Hungary

97,000

3,000

100,000

Others

9,000

1,000

10,000

Total

1,205,655

91,198

1,296,853



1,146,982 Commonwealth servicemen and women died in the First World War. Calculate the percentage of these that died as a result of gas. Does the figure surprise you knowing what you have heard about this conflict?


The age of mass communication

The First World War was the first to be fought by literate armies in an age of mass communication, so horrors were made public through a diversity of media. The use of gas caused outrage across the world and provoked a strong response, both written and pictorial. You will now view a selection of these responses.

Extract           Images
All Quiet on the Western Front - Pop up window
Testament of Youth - Pop up window
Dulce et Decorum Est - Pop up window
Use of Gas - Pop up window
Germany's Use of Chemical Warfare - Pop up window
Official German Press Report - Pop up window
Molecule of the Month - Pop up window
Mud, Blood and Poppycock - Pop up window
Letter to The Times - Pop up window
Square Dance - Pop up window
Daily Record - Pop up window
Gas Attack - Pop up window
After four years of war - Pop up window
Gassed - Pop up window
German Cartoon - Pop up window
British Cartoon - Pop up window
Belgian victim - Pop up window

Your turn! - Pop up window Who's who - Pop up window

Print this page and use it to do the tasks in this section. You may find it helpful to print and use the information in the
Who’s Who section, where you will find details about the people who wrote the extracts or created the images and
when they were produced.

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Acknowledgements - This will open a new pop browser window
 
   
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