Gas Warfare in WWI

By 11th November 2013December 9th, 2019No Comments

My eyes are streaming as I stumble around,
“What’s happening Sarge?” is the only sound.
The guns are silent but the noise still great,
Men’s voices cry out, not knowing their fate.

Bodies underfoot, I trip and I fall,
Over comrades and rifles, over wire and wall.
I call to my friends “Hey, where are you?”,
Someone grabs at my leg, I’m falling anew.

We were coughing and wheezing, asking “What’s wrong?”,
What was causing the mayhem, disturbing this throng.
The day started quiet, unlike any other,
Some sat around writing home to their mother.

A ground mist rolled in, it seemed nothing at all,
Suddenly men started coughing, some sneezed, others fall.
Trench Warfare had halted all in their track,
Each side needed something, to drive the foe back.

In the early years Smoke and Tear Gas was used,
Not to kill, only make the enemy confused.
The World was shocked, but their cries were ignored,
Into Gas Weapons, much more money, was poured.

More voices condemning, this human outrage,
We’d crossed a line, we’d turned a sad page.
The enemy would seek, stronger gases by far,
To inflict on their foe, to injure, burn, mar.

Chlorine Gas came first, in 1915,
A Yellow-Green cloud that crossed the lands, in between.
Within minutes men’s breathing, shut down from the attack,
The gas burnt their lungs, there was no turning back.

What would these gases do, to those men of the line?
Choke, burn, kill – maim, even make some go blind.
Then other countries decided, to make their own gas,
Phosgene and Mustard were produced en-masse.


These weapons went against all ‘rules of war’,
The use of gas weapons had opened a door.
Although gas fatalities were thought, quite small,
For those who came back, there was nothing at all.

Man could not work to help them get well,
They suffered in silence, in their own living hell.
Little help was given, to those who had fought,
For this freedom for all, but for them there was naught.

When their countries needed them, they had heeded the call,
To many back home, that meant nothing at all.
Stupid women with White Feathers scared boys into battle,
Little caring that they would be herded like Cattle –

Into the trenches, they went to die in the mud,
A generation would be lost in dirt, sweat and blood.
Good people drew together, to help survivors plight,
If not for this Legion, many, would have given up their fight.

That is all in the past, or so it should be,
But what would we do again, to keep the World free?
And modernity shows, that we, don’t understand,
That what hurts humanity, hurts Sky, Seas and Land.

Neville Hymus

Author Neville Hymus

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