Just a few weeks after returning from Ypres Dr. Fritz Haber went to the Eastern Front, where gas-cylinders prepared following the attack against the Russian troops already. At this point in his family was a tragedy - his wife Clara, also a chemist, demanded by Fritz stop developing chemical weapons, I can not live with the knowledge of the offense by her husband, committed suicide, shooting himself in the heart of his own service pistol.
the Russian front
The object of the first gas balloon attack on the Eastern Front were elected as part of the 2nd Russian Army, Stay in December 1914 , the onset of the German 9th Army General Augusto Mackensen to Warsaw. In tactically so-called sector Bolimovsky, in which the planned attack, It was advantageous for the Germans, it displays them on the shortest way to the Warsaw highway and did not require crossing the river. Ravki, as the Germans in January 1915 year strengthened its eastern shore. Technical "bonus" was to the almost complete absence of forests in the location of Russian troops, that allows you to make enough gas bottle attack "long-range".
On the other hand, given the danger of this trend, Russian command has created here is quite tight defense. Positions are occupied 14th Siberian Rifle Division, directly subordinate to the army commander, defense portion of the mouth of. Nit to a height 45,7 (Constantia farm). The division includes the 36 guns 76 mm caliber, 8 howitzer - 122 mm, 8 howitzer - 152 mm, 4 Gun - 107 mm.
Second Division - 55th Infantry - defended the site from a height 45,7 to the mouth of. Box, it was attached to strengthening 8 naval guns 47 mm caliber, 4 Gun - 107 mm, and 4 gaubitsы - 152 mm. Housing allowance amounted to 219 th Infantry Regiment Kotelnichesky.
The first gas-cylinders attack the Germans in the Russian theater of the First World War
From the side of the Germans against the 14th Siberian Rifle Division and the 55th Infantry Division were concentrated part of the III-rd reserve corps - 5th Reserve Division and part of the XXV Reserve Corps, 49-I reserve division and 50th Reserve Division (partially).
During the period 17-21 May the Germans established in its advanced trenches over 12 km (Zakrzhev from forester to home) gas battery, by 10-12 cylinders each (gas cylinders to the pressure 120 atm, dimensions 1,22h0,26 m), filled with liquefied chlorine, - Total 12 thousand. gas cylinders. On a portion of the length 240 m such batteries had to 10.
After that, the Germans had for ten days to wait for favorable weather conditions. During this time, he conducted propaganda among the soldiers, that Russian fire will be completely paralyzed gases, that the gas is not lethal, but only causes a temporary loss of consciousness. but, According to one of the defectors, propaganda among the soldiers, I did not believe it and even negative attitude to the fact of the use of gases, I was not successful.
Gas bottle attack the Germans in the area of the fortress of Osowiec 6 August 1915 g.
During this time, a Russian leaked information about preparing a chemical attack, but defectors testimony went unheeded, and monitoring of the trenches of the Germans nothing significant could not be found. And what higher Russian command? It is cool to the use of many technological innovations, and especially negatively to the "suffocating gases". So, some Russian chemists and military in the early 1915 year discussed the possibility of using phosgene as a means of chemical warfare. But it was necessary to take a decision at the highest level. In view of the Chairman of the Special Administrative Commission of the artillery of the letter 4 Martha 1915 year asked the Grand Duke Nicholas, the supreme commander of, Whether he admits it possible to use shells, filled with toxic substances.
A few days later Chief of Staff of Supreme Commander said,, that the "supreme commander refers to the use of shells negatively". Soon, under the influence of the gas attack, produced by the Germans 22 April 1915 year on the French front near Ypres, the views of the High Command changed, but the time has already been lost, initiative firmly belonged to the German Army.
Upon learning of the attack at Ypres almost immediately, Russia's military leadership tried to take some measures to protect their troops. However, these measures have been very modest and insufficient.
It was established relatively early, that the Germans used chloro. Therefore, even in the beginning of May 1915 years before the first German gas attack on the Russian front, the Red Cross organizations have started to manufacture the first protivohlornyh masks, representing a poultice of five or six layers of gauze, stitched on the edges and fitted with two pairs of ribbons to enhance the mask on the face. compress length about 15 cm, width 5-8 cm. Against the nose and mouth had a pocket, which is embedded lint cloth impregnated hyposulfite. Such masks, dressings in early May 1915 Year manufactured in fairly large quantities, at least in Moscow and Minsk.
The newspapers of the time placed the following message, dated 23 May: «In obschezemskom Union, According to "Speech", Moscow received notification, in Minsk on a large scale are manufactured respirators. Every day they are released 25000 pcs. Respirators are provided extending troops. Developed an advanced type of».
Russian soldiers in gas masks and gas masks. Photos from the magazine "Ogonyok", 1915 g.
But the disorganization and confusion, prevailed in the cumbersome bureaucratic institutions of the old Russia and, in particular, in military hospital department, led to, what, Despite these measures,, a month after the event, the Ypres Russian troops were completely exposed during the first LPG attack on the Eastern Front. true, known, that the command of the Russian individual parts independently tried to take steps to protect their troops against possible chemical attack of the enemy. So, eg, command of the 55th Infantry Division, at the site which was first applied gas, posobstvennoy initiative commissioned at the beginning of May in Moscow masks and sent them inspector. However, these masks arrived at their destination only in the evening 31 May, after closure of the gas attack.
Russian trenches in a gas cloud
so, waiting for appropriate weather, Germans 31 May 3 time 20 min, Short after firing of 105 mm guns portion 55th infantry division, released 264 m chlorine, opened at the same time a hurricane of machine gun and rifle fire on the advanced Russian trenches and heavy artillery fire on the site of the 14th Siberian Rifle Division. Complete surprise attack and the lack of preparation on the part of Russian troops led to, that the soldiers showed more surprise and curiosity about the appearance of the gas cloud, than the alarm. By adopting a cloud of gas behind the disguise attacks, Russian troops advanced reinforced trenches and pulled part of the support. soon trenches, here representing solid maze, places were littered with corpses and dying people. TO 4 time 30 min chloro reached Orysheva, forming gas in the lowlands and swamps in the way of killing the shoots of spring and clover.
Simultaneously with the attack on the site of the 14th Siberian Infantry Division, the Germans launched an offensive in the extreme right flank of the 218 th Infantry Regiment (55-Infantry Division) west of Nowa Wies. However, everywhere, despite the large Russian losses from toxic assets, offensive was repelled, and the Germans withdrew to its original position with heavy losses. Losses, incurred when Russian gas cylinder attack the Germans 31 May, It was about 9000 human.
On the night of the 6th to the 7th of July the Germans repeated gas bottle attack on the Russian front in the area of Suha - Will Shidlovskaya against parts of the 6th Siberian Rifle Division and the 55th Infantry Division. At the same time the Germans did not pursue any operational purposes, because at this time against 2nd Russian Army, concealing Warsaw, they did not have enough power. This time, the attack has been so unexpected, as 31 May. However, the chemical discipline Russian troops were still very low, and extending the gas waves led to the abandonment of the first line of defense forces on two portions regiment (21-th Siberian Rifle and 218 th Infantry Regiment) and significant losses. but, Thanks to the counter-attacks, already 8 July, despite additional gazopuski, Russian managed to fully restore the situation.
Masks worn even on horses
Precise information on casualties, incurred by Russian troops during the attack, there is none. However, we know, that the 218 th Infantry Regiment during the retreat, and lost one commander 2607 shooters, throwing 6 heavy machine guns. In the 21 th Siberian Rifle Regiment remained only half-company of combat-ready after the withdrawal - ie. 97% the regiment has been disabled. 220-th Infantry Regiment, wrought counterattack on the ground, rich "gas swamps", I lost six officers and 1346 shooters. Battalion 22th Infantry Regiment at the Siberian counterattack across the gas wave, then from his left three companies (25% loss). These data indicate the weakness of the gas discipline Russian troops, which caused, despite the presence - albeit primitive - anti-gas masks, one side, panic exhaust regiments in darkness parallel movement of the gas waves, on the other hand - the lack of chemical reconnaissance at the counter, counterpropagating wave gas.
Gas bottle following an attack on the Russian front, the Germans launched in August 1915 of the year, at the next storming of the fortress of Osowiec, barring them from the path to Bialystok, Grodno, Minsk.
Fortress failed to seize during February 1915 , the onset of the Hindenburg, when it came under fire from large-caliber siege guns. These were delivered to the famous "Big Bertha" - siege weapons 420-mm caliber, 800-kilogram shells which breach the two-meter steel and concrete floors, leaving after the explosion crater five meters depth and fifteen meters in diameter.
The Germans counted, that forced surrender of the fortress with a garrison of a thousand men only two such instruments and 24 hours methodical bombardment: 360 shells, every four minutes - volley. Under Osovets brought four "Big Bertha" and 64 other powerful siege weapons, Total 17 battery.
Pictures of World War period, depicting various scenes gas attacks
25 of February they opened fire on the fort and continued to fire 3 Martha. This week the fortress was released 200-250 Only thousand heavy shells. And all for the siege of time - up to 400 thousand. "The brick buildings collapsed, wood burning, Weak concrete gave huge spalling in vaults and walls; wire connection was interrupted, Highway spoiled funnels; trenches and all improvements on the shafts, such as - visors, gun nests, lightweight shelters - erased from the face of the earth ". The fortress hovering smoke and clouds of dust. Together with artillery fortress was bombed by German airplanes.
However, the defenders prevailed, and Russian artillery during this terrible bombing even managed to damage the two "Big Bertha", poorly disguised enemy. Along the way, they blasted and ammunition.
Pictures of World War period, depicting various scenes gas attacks
In August, for the destruction of the garrison fortress Osowiec Germans installed several thousands of gas cylinders (30 gas battery). Gases were released 6 August 4 o'clock. Across 5-10 minutes they reached the Russian trenches. Affecting clouds depth was 12 km and a height - 12 m. anti-gas bandages, Enron Russian troops, poorly protected from gas, requiring, Besides, frequent pressing to his nose and mouth. Immediately subjected to lethal gases and have failed reconnaissance party, secrets and soldiers of the 1st, 2-it, 4-second and third part of the defense sites. Gas penetrated even in the closed rooms of the fortress, disabling defenders.
gas, fired by the Germans 6 August, We had a dark green color - it was with a touch of chlorine bromine. All live in the open air on the beachhead of the fortress was poisoned to death, It is carrying big losses during firing artillery fortress; not involved in a battle men to be saved in the barracks, shelters, homes, tightly locked doors and windows, abundant spraying with water.
AT 12 km away from the gas discharge space, in villages Sheep, Zhod, small Kramkovka, It was heavily intoxicated 18 human; known cases of poisoning of animals - horses and cows. On Mońki station, located in 18 km from the release site gas, poisoning cases were observed. Gas stagnated in the forest and near the water ditches, a small grove in 2 km from the Fortress of highway was impassable to Bialystok 16 hours 6 August.
Redcoat shows another type of gas mask
All the herbs in the fortress and in the immediate area of the path of movement of gases was destroyed, leaves on the trees turned yellow, They curled up and fallen, blackened grass and lay down on the ground, flower petals circled. All copper objects on the beachhead of the fortress - part of the guns and shells, washing facilities, tanks, etc. - were covered with a thick layer of green chlorine oxide; food items, stored without hermetic sealing - meat, butter, fat, vegetables, It turned out to be poisonous and unfit for consumption.
Following the gas cloud nashturm Russian moved forward positions 14 Landwehr battalions (about seven thousand foot). On the front line after the gas attack survivors ostavalosedva whether hundreds of defenders more. doomed fortress, it seemed, I was already in German hands. But when the German chain closer to the trenches, from deep-green chlorine fog descended on them ... counter-attacking Russian infantry. The sight was terrifying: fighters were in persons with bayonet, wrapped in rags, shaken by a terrible cough, literally spitting out pieces of light on the bloody shirt. These were the remains of the 13th Company 226 th Infantry Regiment Zemlyansky, a little more 60 human. But they plunged the enemy into such a horror, that the German infantry, not taking the fight, We rushed back, trampling each other and hanging on their own barbed wire. And it shrouded with clouds of chlorine Russian batteries began to beat, it seemed, already deceased artillery. Several dozens of half-dead Russian soldiers put to flight three German infantry regiment!
Fighting for the fortress continued for more than two weeks - up 24 August, after which the Russian troops left Osovets, blowing all, what remained of German fire.
Comes in Brits (English shahobalonnye attack)
25-and 27 September 1915 , during a big offensive of the Entente troops in Artois British produced their first gas-cylinder chlorine attack against the Germans at Loos. Order on gas attack gave the commander of the 2nd British Corps, Lieutenant General Ferguson. His official statement reads: «This is - a cowardly form of war, which is not like me either, no other British soldiers ... We can not win this war, if we do not kill or disable our enemies in large quantities, what they have, and if it can be done, Only copying the enemy in his choice of weapons, we must not give up on this».
Melee German and English in a gas cloud
British Gas bottle attack
13 October has been made by the British gas-cylinders second attack in the same area. The first cloud of chlorine were released in admixture with non-toxic smoke. During these two attacks the British lost their own poisoned gases 2911 human. Of this amount, it later turned out 10 the dead and 55 severe poisoning. Losses Germans unknown.
Further gas-cylinder British attack took place in the winter 1915-1916 years. In general, these gas-British attacks were empty of resources. The advent of the British, under the command of General Douglas Haig, commander of the first English army, indeed it caught the Germans by surprise, because they distract the French offensive, started south. On the front sections, British applied where chlorine, they easily broke through the German second line of defense. But General John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, He arranged their reserves too far in the rear, and it took them a whole day for an extension to the front line. By this time the opportunity to win a decisive victory had been missed - the Germans had time to bring up reserves in the area of operations and quickly dug.
Russian, as always, Only zapryahayut
… AT 1915 , the Russian troops were not able to produce a gas-cylinder attack. This was due, Firstly, so as, that the Russian chemical industry could not give front everything necessary for chemical warfare. This branch of the Russian industry was quite developed, and the available companies are totally dependent on foreign, especially German, firms. can say, that the German chemical enterprises in Russia and were the Russian chemical industry. All more or less large German firms had in Russia in its mills and factories as branches.
In addition, the awareness of Russian military leadership dangers of chemical warfare, even after the application of the German command of chlorine against the French and Russian armies, It was very slow. Only 2 June 1915 the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Commander (nashtaverh) General of Infantry N.N.Yanushkevich telegraphed the War Minister V.A.Suhomlinovu:
«Supreme Commander recognizes, that in view of the complete illegibility of our enemy the means to fight the only measure of influence on it is to use, and from our side all means, consumed opponent ... Supreme Commander asks orders on the production of the required tests in this area and supply the armies of the North-Western and South-Western fronts respective devices with a supply of poisonous gases».
Russian military chemists are preparing for the training of the gas attack
A mounth later - 3 August 1915 year - was an order of education at the Artillery Office of the Special Commission on harvested asphyxiating means chaired by the Chief of the Central scientific and technical laboratory of the military department. The Minister of War, General of Infantry A.A.Polivanov, replaced in June Suhomlinova, said Supreme Commander, Ordnance Department that works on the part of the receiving asphyxiating gas at full pressure, and that the beginning of August will be delivered to the theater of war the first supply devices for gas.
Russian soldiers in gas masks, take combat positions in the trenches
However, it turned out, that there is not only its own developments in the field of chemical weapons, but almost netzavodov, that could produce its components.
So, liquid chlorine initially wanted to produce in Finland, but the Finnish senate struck up negotiations for a whole year. In the end, a special meeting of the Defense decided to transfer the workpiece of liquid chlorine special commission (Commission harvested asphyxiating means), established by the Senate, and two hardware factories eased 3 million. 200 thousand. rubles.
In July 1915 by the order of Supreme Commander (order №625) in the region of South-Western Front, the military and a chemical plant for the production of chloroacetone it was organized. Until November 1915 the factory was under the chief engineer endowments Front, and then enrolled at the disposal of Artillery Directorate, which expanded plant, arranged in a laboratory and it has established production of chloropicrin.
As a result of artillery control commission harvested asphyxiating means primarily the production of liquid chlorine in Russia was established, which before the war were imported from abroad. In August 1915 We had been received for the first time 2 m chlorine. In October of the phosgene production began the same year. Since October 1915 the year began to form specific chemical instructions for performing the compressed gas attacks and as they are developed to go to the front.
TO 1916 the Russian army had 12 gas Team. Thus, in Russia there were chemical troops, soon include in their composition as anti-gas and flame-throwing team. In April 1916 g. at GAC was formed Chemical Committee, It composed of Commission and asphyxiating accumulation funds. Thanks to the vigorous action of the Chemical Committee of the extensive network of chemical plant was established in Russia (about 200). Including a number of factories for the production of OB. The plants were brought to bear in the spring 1916 g. Number of manufactured RH reached by November 3180 t (It was made in October about 345 t), and program 1917 g. It planned to increase monthly production to 600 t in January and 1 300 t in May.
The first gas balloon attack Russian troops fired 6 September 1916 year 3 o'clock 30 mines near Smorgon. On the stretch of the front 1100 meters installed 1700 small and 500 large cylinders. Number RH was calculated on 40- minute attack. just released 13 m chlorine from 977 small and 65 large cylinders. Chlorine vapors partially exposed due to changes in wind direction and underwent position Russian. Besides, several cylinders were broken by artillery fire.
25 October north of Baranavichy district in Skrobova was made another gas-cylinders attack by Russian troops. Admitted in the preparation of attacks ballonovi damage hoses led to significant losses - only the dead there 115 human. All poisoned were without masks.
By the end 1916 g. there is a tendency to transfer the efforts of chemical control of compressed gas attacks on chemical artillery shells. FROM 1916 g. produced 76 mm of two types of chemical shells: asphyxiating (chloropicrin with sulfuryl chloride) and toxic (phosgene with hlornym lead, or vensinit, consisting of hydrocyanic acid, chloroform, arsenic and tin chloride), effects of these munitions caused the defeat of the body, and in severe cases, death.
By the fall 1916 g. Army requirements on the chemical 76-mm shells are fully met: Army received monthly 15000 shells (the ratio of poisonous and asphyxiating shells were 1 to 4). Chemical weapons received and the Russian fleet. For 305- mm guns of the newest battleships type "Sevastopol" were provided sample chemical shells 1916 of the year, converted from armor-piercing and practical. The shells were filled with a mixture based on chloropicrin. It should be noted, that the shells with OB irritant in the terminology of that time were called "suffocating", and with OB actually suffocating and obscheyadovitogo action - "poisonous".
Miracle in Kaporetto
FROM 1917 GAZOMET year have been used by the warring countries (prototype of mortars). They were first used by the British. Mina kept from 9 to 28 kg toxic substance, shooting from GAZOMET produces mainly phosgene, liquid diphosgene and chloropicrin. German GAZOMET were the cause of "the miracle at Caporetto", when after the shelling of the Kraus Group 912 GAZOMET mines with phosgene Italian battalion, in the valley of Soca river, near Mr.. Flich, It destroyed all living things.
Kraus group consisted of the Austro-Hungarian divisions, trained for fighting in the mountains. Since they had to act in the highlands, command assigned to support relatively smaller artillery divisions, than other groups. But they possessed 1000 GAZOMET, with which the Italians were not familiar. On the battlefield, was found dead more 500 human, many of which were all wearing masks. Shock grouping stride broke Italian front and tossed two divisions. Italy was on the verge of death.
German cyclists in masks
10 July 1917 by the Germans on the Western Front was first applied diphenylchlorarsine, causing coughing, even through the mask, in those years who had a bad smoke filter. Therefore, in the future to destroy the enemy's manpower diphenylchlorarsine steel used together with phosgene or diphosgene. The new stage of the use of chemical weapons began with the use of persistent toxic substance blister agents. 12 July 1917 year for 4 hours on the positions of the Allies was released 50 thousands of shells, containing 125 tons of the substance. Lesions of varying degrees received 2490 human.
German command hoped for significant advances in the application of solid arsenic irritating substances in combination with the asphyxiating substances. However, this success was short-lived: Entente army established in the proof box paper smoke filter, which were reliable protection from coarse particles fumed toxic substances.
Chemical Weapons Victims
In just the first world war the warring countries was made 180 thousand. so a variety of OB, some of which applied 125 thousand. t. Combat test was not less than 45 various chemicals, among them 4 blister, suffocating, and at least 27 irritant. Loss of chemical weapons is estimated at 1,3 million. human, with overall losses 10 million. human.
To be continued…