Episode 33: Second Battle of Ypres

1915

This episode is something of a special one for this year because it involves the Germans making a large attack on the western front. As we have discussed the Germans were, for the most part, holding to the defensive in the West so that they could move troops east. But there was one large attack that they launched in Belgium during 1915 and it would come to be called the Second Battle of Ypres. It is most notable as the first occurrence of poison gas being used on the Western front. If you remember the Germans had used gas before, in the east against the russians. In that instance it was just concentrated tear gas. It was not particularly effective at least partially due to the cold which had prevented it from properly becoming an aerosol so it didn't properly spread over the lines. They had new gas and new delivery techniques to use at Ypres, and cold wouldn't be a problem. What would follow is some of the most horrifying moments for any soldiers at any point during the war. Gas would become one of the legacies of the war, both in the form of battlefield accounts and men affected for the rest of their lives. Second Ypres was really the beginning of that story.


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