This month we commemorate the Second Battle of Ypres which took place from 22 April to 25 May 1915.
On this day in 1915, the Second Battle of Ypres began during World War One as both the Allied and German troops fought over Ypres town in Western Belgium. The battle marked the first mass use of poison gas on the Western Front by Germany.
The Germans planned to use the asphyxiating gas to open a gap in the Allies line which they could then pass through, releasing nearly 200 tons of gas on the first day of battle. Allied troops initially did not realise the deep danger they were in and were unprepared, suffering around 10,000 casualties as a result of the gas on the first day alone.
In the end, German troops called off the offensive as their supplies began to run low. Allies lost 69,000 of their men in total and Germany 35,000. As a result of the gas attacks by Germany, the Allies began developing their own forms of gas warfare.
Gas attacks were originally pumped out through a pipe but this soon became obvious that there were many disadvantages to this for example a sudden change of wind direction. This led to the development of gas shells, which meant that the gas could be physically propelled into enemy lines. Gas rattles, made of wood and metal, were used to warn troops of an imminent gas attack. You will hear more about the effects of gas attacks in WW1 on our Battlefied Tours, in addition to visiting many of the sites around Ypres where remnants of the battle and the gas attacks can be seen.
Read more about the Battle of Ypres.