German soldiers lay out lead pipes for releasing poison gas as the prelude to an assault on the Allied trench line in August 1917. The first chlorine gas attacks in April 1915 were spewed from canisters, but the vagaries of the wind and weather made that method of dispersal impracticable. (National Archives) A German 170mm minenwerfer bombards Allied trenches. Capable of hurling a 150-lb. shell up to 3,000 yards, the minenwerfer also fired gas bombs at specific targets more effectively and economically than releasing it from canisters or pipes on the ground. (National Archives) The Germans failed to follow up sufficiently to gain much advantage from their first chemical attacks, and it was not long before the Allies were developing measures of protecting their troops from them. Here, a French soldier in an early type of gas mask stands guard at his trench near Verdun in 1916. (National Archives) The mutual proliferation of chemical warfare imposed myriad new precautions on both sides. Here German troops transfer their carrier pigeons to a special box to protect the birds against a gas attack expected in March 1917. (National Archives) With no bell available, a German stationed between Rheims and Laon in May 1917 uses a handy frying pan to signal a gas attack. The clang of metal on metal is still one of the standard alarms when warning of an impending chemical or biological attack. (National Archives) An aerial photograph shows French-launched chemical and flame agents falling on German trenches in Flanders. Exact date unknown. (U.S. Army/National Archives) With the United States’ entry in the war, the American Expeditionary Force had to catch up on the war’s technological innovations—including chemical warfare. The protective masks shown above were used by (from left) the U.S., British, French and German armies. (Library of Congress) Members of the 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division undergo training and have the fit of their masks inspected during a drill in France. Such measures could save their lives later when they were thrown into the Argonne offensive in October 1918. (U.S. Army Center of Military History) A German staff car passes through a gassed defile in the Soissons area on June 26, 1918. (National Archives) Once effective protective masks were developed for soldiers, the principle had to be applied to other necessities, as exemplified by the special mask worn by this horse from a German ammunition column making its way through woods contaminated with poison gas in June 1918. (National Archives) Though yet to see combat, a private in the 40th Division assigned onion peeling duty at Camp Kearny near San Diego, California, in March 1918 finds a way to put his mask and chemical warfare training to good use. (U.S. Army/National Archives)
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