6th June 1917 Wednesday
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The subject of gas had been very much to the fore of late so not surprisingly it was felt that the allies should respond in kind. The French were the first users of gas, almost from the start in August 1914. Following its use by the Germans, British forces first used gas in September 1915 with pretty disastrous consequences. At the Battle of Loos the wind turned after discharging the gas and blew it back over the British lines causing casualties to our own men. Coupled with the fact that the wrong keys to open the cylinders had been supplied, preventing the full discharge of gas supplies, it could be said, it didn’t go well. None-the-less the use of gas was continued and used by all the main combatants during the conflict.
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“Next day – Wednesday 6th June, the Huns ‘straffed’ the canal bank all day long especially around Bridge 5, so that we were shaken up again badly. One of our men was hit on the head by a piece of shell as he was going from one dug-out to the other. The special gas-officer in charge of the gas brigade paid me a visit, and told me that he has five hundred small guns in White Trench ready ready to fire off one shell each, each shell containing 30lbs of liquid gas which explodes 500 yards behind the enemy lines, and having an enormous concentration, killing immediately. Such is modern warfare! I was relieved at night and proceeded back to Ambulance Headquarters. My heart was in my mouth on the journey back as shells were exploding everywhere. Dead horses and smashed limbers lined the roads.”
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