MILITARY HISTORY ONLINE

User:  
Password:  
 
 (1939-1945) WWII
Message
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 1435
Joined: 2005
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 3:10:06 PM
Did any combatants at any point during WWII use chemical attacks such as mustard gas, phosgene or chlorine as a tactical weapon?

Dan
----------------------------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." German officer, Italy 1944. “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1869
Joined: 2010
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 4:14:00 PM
Italy used it when they attack Ethiopia, IIRC. Pre-WWII, of course.
NYGiant
home  USA
Posts: 953
Joined: 2021
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 4:23:53 PM
Well, it wasn't a chemical attack.

Liberty ship, S.S John Harvey docked in Naples Italy carrying a secret cargo, mustard gas. A German bombing attack caused the Harvey to detonate releasing the mustard gas. Casualties were admitted to the hospital and the first deaths occurred 18 hours later. This episode was classified information til 1967.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1869
Joined: 2010
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 6:50:42 PM
SS John Harvey was a U.S. World War II Liberty ship. This ship is best known for carrying a secret cargo of mustard gas and whose sinking by German aircraft in December 1943 at the port of Bari in south Italy caused an unintentional release of chemical weapons. Wikipedia

The Germans were notified that we would retaliate in kind for any gas attacks. As Hitler had been gassed in WWI this was felt to be a good limiter.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1869
Joined: 2010
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 6:51:21 PM
https://andreasmoser.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/bari-on-italy-map.jpg
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 1435
Joined: 2005
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 7:22:19 PM
Quote:
SS John Harvey was a U.S. World War II Liberty ship. This ship is best known for carrying a secret cargo of mustard gas and whose sinking by German aircraft in December 1943 at the port of Bari in south Italy caused an unintentional release of chemical weapons. Wikipedia

The Germans were notified that we would retaliate in kind for any gas attacks. As Hitler had been gassed in WWI this was felt to be a good limiter.


I knew of the Ethiopian attack but I am surprised Hitler never let loose on the Eastern Front. Granted, he knew how bad a chemical attack could be but, he also knew about artillery, mortars, rifles, grenades, flamethrowers, etc.

And as brutal as Japan was in China, I thought here as well, something may have cropped up.

Dan
----------------------------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." German officer, Italy 1944. “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1869
Joined: 2010
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 8:00:24 PM
We had gas because we had the tonnage to move it around deadhead. The rail situation in Russia meant the Germans didn't have room for something that might not be used. My take, anyway.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4716
Joined: 2004
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/30/2023 9:27:54 PM
I believe Japan’s interest was more biochemical than anything else. Their Unit 731 generated and distributed biochemical agents, from the mid-1930s to as late as 1943, IIRC. I don’t know if there was a distinction between chemical and biological warfare at the time. Gas was of major concern because of its devastating impact in WW1. All WW1 European belligerents (except Italy, IIUC, during the Abyssinia campaign) rejected use of various gases (except, of course, the use of Zyklon-B against “Untermenschen”) as a weapon, but all major belligerents were equipped with gas. It was a shipment of such gas to an expanding front which was released by a German air-raid on US supply ships.

Cheers
Brian G
----------------------------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 3138
Joined: 2010
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/31/2023 8:50:48 AM
When I did research for my book about the Pechenga/Kirkenes operation in 1944 (the operation obviously, not my research...), I came across references in German archives of the Soviets using gas in the initial phases of the attack against the positions of the German 2nd Mountain Division.
The type of gas used was not specified, but a couple of Soviet veterans that I interviewed said they had heard that CS gas may have been used to clear bunkers in the initial phases.

I was not able to definitely confirm nor deny the use of gas during this operation.

K

Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 797
Joined: 2005
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
3/31/2023 8:51:54 PM
The Australian Army conducted a variety of mustard gas experiments in WWII.
In controlled environments as well as using Aircraft dropped, mortars and artillery to study the effects in open and jungle terrain. Data collated was shared with the Americans for potential use in the Pacific campaign.
Over 1,000 Australian servicemen were exposed to these gas experiments, both with and without respirators.
Test were carried out in far North QLD.
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 1435
Joined: 2005
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
4/1/2023 3:13:58 PM
Quote:
The Australian Army conducted a variety of mustard gas experiments in WWII.
In controlled environments as well as using Aircraft dropped, mortars and artillery to study the effects in open and jungle terrain. Data collated was shared with the Americans for potential use in the Pacific campaign.
Over 1,000 Australian servicemen were exposed to these gas experiments, both with and without respirators.
Test were carried out in far North QLD.


I never knew this, what a shame!

Dan
----------------------------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." German officer, Italy 1944. “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 13339
Joined: 2009
WWII Tactical Chemical Gas Attacks
4/1/2023 4:44:25 PM
In a joint initiative the Canadian and British army tested biological and chemical weapons at Suffield Experimental Station in Alberta. The programme began in 1941 and ended in 1946. It was jointly funded by both armies.

By the end of the war 600 people were employed at the labs in Suffield.

Of course, the products were tested on soldiers. That programme ended in 1946 but the Canadian forces didn't stop testing chemical weapons. It took years for former soldiers to receive compensation and the investigation indicated that from 1941 until 1970, nearly 3000 soldiers had been used as guinea pigs.

Many of those tested had suffered from mustard gas induced burns to permanent lung damage from god knows what.

It took until 1988 before the Canadian government admitted that it had authorized the testing of these chemicals on Canadian soldiers and it wasn't until 2004 that any compensation was dispensed.

The government claims that all of the test subjects were volunteers and it appears that the men were offered fine dining on white table cloths, extra leave and an extra 50 cents per day in pay.

Quote:
As they were to discover, the real price for these modest perks was immodest, even indecent. Over a period of six weeks or so, many of these soldiers became unwitting participants in chemical warfare experiments; they were made to don experimental equipment, or they were slathered with anti-gas ointment, or made to wear uniforms with holes cut out. Some were made to stand in fields and turn their backs while planes rained chemicals down on them. Some were told to crawl through bomb craters contaminated with mustard gas and then sit in their drenched uniforms for hours, breathing the vapours and letting the liquid score their skin. When these men sought medical attention to quell the burning, or to tame the blisters that broke out, veterans say it was sometimes denied so that researchers could record the effects.
. source: Government of Canada website.

A sad tale of abuse, I think. Even the government site acknowledges that.

[Read More]

As well, Canada was testing chemical agents at the Chemical Warfare Laboratories in Ottawa during the war. This lab had some breakthroughs in the development of chemical weapons.

Quote:
The research resulted in some notable breakthroughs. A prime example was dubbed Compound Z, discovered in late 1941 by McGill researchers. It was three times as toxic as phosgene gas and reportedly could penetrate any gas mask in Britain, the United States or Soviet Union. Research on how to make it an operational weapon continued but its production costs proved to be exorbitant—nearly 10 times that of mustard gas.
. source: Legion magazine.

The article in the Legion magazine indicates that soldiers were sent to the Ottawa site under orders. They had not volunteered at all. I recall reading a story recounted by a Canadian soldier who had been ordered to report to Suffield station. He and others boarded a train and the rumours about what was going on there were flying. The train stopped and this guy just got off. He was never traced or charged. After the war while recounting this story he said that he had volunteered to fight the Germans, not to be poisoned in his own country. I cannot say that I blame him.

[Read More]


Wazza alluded to a similar programme in Australia. There was an "Australian Field Experimental Station" in Queensland.


Canada and the US collaborated on research of biological weapons and studied their effects on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. La Grosse Ile had been a quarantine station for immigrants to Canada from 1832 -1937. The infrastructure for a research facility was available for use. So the US and Canada established the War Diseases Control Station on La Grosse Ile

Researchers from Canada's finest universities contributed to the war effort by studying the effects of chemical and biological weapons. This is difficult information to read about.

Cheers,

George

© 2023 - MilitaryHistoryOnline.com LLC