Skip to main content


Showing posts from February 21, 2010

Chemical Warfare, Part 2

Sometimes the footnotes illuminate and enliven a rather dull passage. In a section on civil defense Brown says, "Since it has to be assumed that an enemy would use the most destructive mixture of weapons available, gas shelters had to be bomb- and fireproof as well as gasproof." Why is this true? Note 48 at the bottom of the page explains: "High explosives to penetrate collective shelters and homes, incendiaries to drive the population into the streets, gas to kill in the streets." Brown tends to the passive voice in the text but can be vivid in the notes.

While the combatants of World War I expected gas warfare in future conflicts, none of the combatants in World War II attacked each other with gas with the exception of limited use in China. The aversion to gas warfare stands in stark contrast to the other two weapons introduced in World War I: the tank and the bomber. When World War II began in September of 1939, the German tanks backed by bombers made short work…