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Gas Warfare Treaty

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by PactOfSteel, Feb 7, 2008.

  1. PactOfSteel

    PactOfSteel Dishonorably Discharged

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    Why did bitter enemies follow these rules? I mean what exactly would have happened if the Germans started using gas warfare again on the Allies? would they have written letters to Hitler telling him he violated the treaty? just wondering. I mean the Germans could have gassed the Allied forces at Normandy/D-Day and probably won the battle.
     
  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Some attribute Hitler's reluctance to using gas because of his being exposed to gas in WWI. He also knew that if he used it first the Allies would have no regrets in using it on the Germans in response. The Allies were quite prepared to use it if Hitler used it first. The US had gas filled munitions in the Harbor of Bari,Italy just in case.
     
  3. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Disaster at Bari - December 1943
    The date is December 2, 1943, and the local time is 7:25pm. On the southeastern coast of Italy, the city of Bari is a beehive of activity. Bari is a city of 200,000 people. It is a major supply seaport with thousands of tons of munitions, food and equipment being unloaded around the clock. Tonight is no exception, 30 Allied ships are crowded into the harbour waiting to be unloaded. Most of the ships are Liberty ships, including the SS John Harvey. The skipper, Capt. Erwin F. Knowles, has been waiting five days for his ship to be unloaded!

    Confident that the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) had been swept from the skies, Air Vice Marshal Sir Arthur Conningham boasted that the Germans would never dare launch an attack on the port of Bari! That is why the docks were ablaze with lights, and the unloading went on all night long. Never the less, at precisely 7:30 pm, a large formation of 105 German Ju-88 bombers swept down out of the clouds! With the harbour lit up like a Christmas tree, The allied ships were "sitting ducks."



    Allied shipping burning at Bari, 3 December 1941
    Seventeen ships were sunk and eight badly damaged. Without warning, the John Harvey suddenly disappeared in a huge explosion! Pieces of the ship and cargo were hurled hundreds of feet into the air. Everyone on board was killed instantly and the terrific force of the blast also destroyed part of the city. As ship after ship exploded or caught fire, hundreds of men were struggling in the oil-covered water in a desperate attempt to escape. On the British ship Fort Athabaska, 44 men out of her crew of 56 were killed.

    As the wounded came into the military hospitals, many of the wounded began to complain that they were having trouble breathing, they were hacking and coughing very hard. Their eyes were swollen and skin lesions began to appear. Their condition worsened in spite of conventional treatment, and many began to die.

    The doctors and nurses were puzzled; they were faced with a mysterious unknown ailment that they could not cure. The one man who did know the deadly secret was Capt. Elwin F. Knowles, the skipper of the Liberty ship John Harvey (and no trace of him has ever been found.)

    No one else on the ship knew about the secret cargo, 2,000 M47A1 mustard gas bombs! The poison mustard chemical is a blister gas that irritates the respiratory system, producing burns and raw ulcers on the skin and in the body. Victims exposed to very much of this gas suffer an agonizing death. There were 628 mustard gas deaths among Allied military and merchant marine personnel.

    Bari and the Kiwi Experiences
    It was fortunate for the NZ Division that their use of the port of Bari was almost complete at the time of this big raid. The bulk of the Division's transport had been shipped from Egypt to Bari and then motored down to the Divisional assembly point at Lucera, some 30 miles from Bari.

    The biggest Kiwi presence in the Bari area in December 1943, was No.3 General Hospital which was alongside the 98th British General Hospital, situated a convenient distance from the docks area and railway station.

    In the official war history of the NZ Medical Corps, Staff Sergeant A.J. Taylor recorded his impressions of the raid and the explosion of the USS John Harvey:

    Without warning a vast fountain of flame, with multi-coloured jets streaming from the top arises in the air about a mile away. Those who pause to gape at the scene are, a few seconds later, flung flat by the might blast that follows the terrific explosion which the flame implied.

    But the raid goes on. Leaping flames and billowing clouds of smoke .... By now some of the casualties from the raid are beginning to reach the hospital. Many of these are covered in oil and suffering from one or all of the effects of blast, immersion, and burns. There are Americans, Poles, Indians, Norwegians, and Italians. Far into the night the staff works to treat them and put them to bed.

    A little closer to the scene was Ron Tanner of 27 Machine Gun Battalion. Wounded in the right hand, he had been trained to Bari along with other allied and German wounded. The hospital train was stationary approximately one kilometre from the harbour and was to remain their overnight before the wounded were processed into the hospital. Ron recalls what happened:

    The night became day, ships were visible and everything around us. Then a mighty flash erupted and filled the night with a brilliance likened to the size of a huge multi storey building. I had a bent for measuring sound and counted just four seconds. A tremendous shock wave struck the hospital train. The window I had my nose against was sucked out. Every window in the entire train had disappeared. We had just witnessed an implosion.

    On arrival at the hospital we were met with an unbelievable sight. Like the train, all window sashes had been sucked out and shattered glass lay everywhere outside. Imagine if they had been blown inwards onto the beds of unsuspecting inert patients with no escape.

    Very soon the aisles between each row of beds were filled with charred blistered bodies, some writhing in pain, others in a lifeless desperate physical condition. Many did not respond to treatment. The medical team was mystified till they discovered a shocking fact. Many of these poor creatures were suffering from mustard gas burns.

    Camped some five miles from Bari was Driver Hugh Harrison of the 1st NZ Ammunition Company. He recently recalled that night:

    I can remember we were standing outside around a brazier trying to keep warm when the sky was light up from the explosions. The sky was a strange orange yellow for some time. Our immediate concern was to get the brazier extinguished as we believed it could become a beacon for the attacking Jerry bombers!

    A few days later he had to visit the dockside area of Bari and was fascinated by the sight of the remains of many of the roller doors used on the fronts of the shops. They had been "sucked" out in the air vacuum formed by the explosion of the USS John Harvey and were twisted like crumpled tinfoil.

    Hugh also recalled that the holding of mustard gas shells in the allied arsenal was an accepted fact. He and fellow members of the Ammunition Company transported truckloads of the "yellow" painted shells to stockpiles at the rear of the allied forces as they advanced through Italy.

    The Bari disaster caused political problems for the allies. The presence of Mustard Gas shells in the allied arsenal was to be kept secret, as it was feared the Germans might respond in a similar vein. Additionally, the high loss of shipping and lives was an embarrassment to the allied war efforts in Italy at a time when the allied leaders were discussing final plans for "The Second Front" (the invasion of Europe). Because the port of Bari was under British jurisdiction, Prime Minister Winston Churchill had all medical records changed. The deaths by mustard gas read death by burns due to enemy action. The actual facts about the USS John Harvey's cargo were not publicly released until 1948.

    http://www.rsa.org.nz/review/art2003november/article_3.htm

    and check this out.

    http://www.armed-guard.com/ag89.html

    There is a book out by the title of "Diaster at Bari" that I read quite a few years ago too.
     
  4. PactOfSteel

    PactOfSteel Dishonorably Discharged

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  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Tabun Nerve Gas
    What could have been...

    All of us know that poison gas was not used in the Second World War. However, evidence shows that the Germans were considering it's use in the desperate years of 1944-45. There were in fact 3 different gases, of which Tabun was the most readily available when the war ended. If one stops to think about it, these gases could have had an even worse effect than those first used in 1915, on the fields of Ypres.

    The proper name for Tabun was Ethyl-dimethyl-amido-phosphoro-cyanidate. It was discovered by the German scientist Dr Gebhardt Schraeder in 1936, during his search for weed killers. What he discovered was in fact a gas ten times more lethal than Phosgene, previously thought to be the most deadly of war gases.

    Instead of attacking the respitory system, as most gases of the First World War did, Tabun attacked the central nervous system, creating a situation where the victims bodily functions were no longer under the brain's control. Exposure to Tabun meant sure death in a matter of minutes.

    After much difficulty, manufacture of Tabun started at a special factory in the town of Dyhernfurth, near the Oder river. Planned production was 1000 tonnes per month after mid 1942, but more difficulties arose and only 15,000 tonnes were produced before the Soviet forces captured the factory. After that, nothing was ever heard of the factory, and it was believed to have been dismantled and taken back to the Soviet Union.

    All the gas in the plant was put into various munitions and shipped out before the Soviets captured the factory. After the war had ended, upwards of half a million artillery shells and over 100,000 aircraft bombs had been filled with the deadly gas. Fortunately, all these were found and destroyed by the Allies after the war.

    The other gases were Sarin and Soman. Sarin was discovered in 1938 and is properly known as isopropyl methyl phosphoro-flouridate. One of the original nerve gases, it was found to be exceptionaly hard to manufacture and was thus never mass produced. Only a pilot plant existed when the war came to an end.

    Soman was discovered in 1944 and was the third and last of the German nerve gases. Known to science as pinacolyl methyl phosphoro-flouridate, this gas was never taken beyond the laboratory.

    http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Bunker/3351/
    --
     
  6. PactOfSteel

    PactOfSteel Dishonorably Discharged

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  7. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Some people have also pointed out that the Germans had the most to lose if gas was used. The over 1 million Horses that the Wehrmacht used and depended on would have suffered also. There may have been gas protection equipment for some but not all.
     
  8. PactOfSteel

    PactOfSteel Dishonorably Discharged

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    ha, horses, why on Earth did they still use horses. I like that part in Band of Brothers when they were driving past all the hundreds of German POWs and the guy says what were you thinking? you still have horses!
     
  9. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Another reason also is it only an effective weapon system if you can achieve concentration over an area for a prolongued period of time. In WWI, gas bombardments forced troops to wear their gas masks for hours. And it can only cover a certain amount of ground. It really isn't a good defensive type of weapon. I pointed out the Horse factor to Adolf on the "What if" thread. It seems he ignored it :confused:.
     
  10. PactOfSteel

    PactOfSteel Dishonorably Discharged

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    he ignored something I said as well. So Hitler knew of the horrors of gas warfare thats why he didn't use it? makes sense.
     
  11. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Yes Hitler was affected by Mustard Gas in WWI. Some attribute its long term effects to adding to his mental state later on.
     
  12. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    My old man was in Bari in the aftermath of that explosion.
    The British were prepared to use Mustard Gas against a German invasion in 1940. There existed a plan to drench any Nazi beachheads in the gas, with several airfields the length and breadth of the country being used either to store it or launch it.
     
  13. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Well I hope that he wasn't affected by it. :)
     
  14. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    And it looks like the Pacific could have seen its use too. I posted an article in the WWII Today Forum that said this,


    "Thousands of barrels filled with chemical weapons, including mustard gas, were stored in the tunnel at Glenbrook and other sites around Australia during the Second World War.

    The men were part of a secret unit formed to look after the deadly stockpile, kept for use against Japanese troops - a fact the Defence Department refused to admit until the late 1980s. And for decades successive governments refused to disclose that the Australian wartime command had conducted chemical warfare experiments on its own soldiers."

    http://www.ww2f.com/wwii-today/21728-deadly-chemicals-hidden-war-cache.html
     
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Something being neglected a little here is that gas is an exceptionally difficult weapon to use well. It's chances of successful deployment are often slim, & the outcomes can be mixed or ineffectual.
    The tactical deficiencies of the weapon were more of a factor restricting it's use than any moral scruples by Adolf.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  16. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Nah, he's a tough old bird. He survived his troopship being sunk off Bougie in Operation Torch. ;)
     
  17. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Well then that says it all.. Wasn't his time to go each time :).
     
  18. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Like I mentioned before. Its use defensively is almost nil. And its is only good if the targets(s) are stationary and unprepared.
     
  19. chemical.nasties

    chemical.nasties Member

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    I've created a website that deals with this

    Chemical Warfare in Australia

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  20. chemical.nasties

    chemical.nasties Member

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