27/4/1916 Hulluch: German gas attack

In Dublin a thousand Irish rebels are fighting against the British Empire. In France and Belgium however far greater numbers of Irishmen are serving in the British empire, all as volunteers (conscription has not been extended to Ireland). Near Hulluch men of the Dublin Fusiliers and Inniskillings are part of a British force holding ground captured in the Battle of Loos last year. Over the past few days there have been ominous signs. Rats have been seen climbing out of the German trenches and heading into no man’s land. Then a German deserter reveals that a gas attack is imminent (gas leaking from its containers has scared off the rats).

Today the Germans launch their chemical attack. They let the wind blow the poisonous cloud of chlorine towards the British and then send their infantry forward after it. The gas inflicts considerable casualties on the British, many of whom were unable to put on their protective masks in time. But the Germans also suffer from their own poison, thanks to British artillery bursting open the gas cylinders and unexpected changes in the wind direction.

The German assault fails. Officers praise the performance of the Irish troops. Both sides suffer heavy casualties, mostly from the Germans’ poison gas.

image source:

Otto Dix: Stormtruppe geht unter Gas vor (Kelly Berry)

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