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One of the most gruesome aspects of World War I was the use of poison gas as a weapon, which the German army first introduced on a large scale at the second battle of Ypres, in Flanders, Belgium, in April 1915. Armies soon adopted gas masks and respirators as protective measures. This poster shows a soldier on the battlefield, collapsing and clutching his throat as a result of exposure to poison gas. The poster was used to instruct soldiers in the proper use of gas masks, and it was also placed in factories where the masks were manufactured to emphasize to workers the importance of care and flawlessness in their work. The illustration is by Lieutenant W.G. Thayer of the Gas Defense Division, U.S. Army, the precursor to the Chemical Warfare Service (CWS) that issued the poster. The CWS was officially founded on June 28, 1918. Thayer’s drawing also was used as the frontispiece to Gas and Flame in Modern Warfare (1918), by Major S.J.M. Auld, a British officer detailed to the United States as an advisor on chemical warfare.
Chemical Warfare Service
Type of Item
1 print (poster) : lithograph, color ; 74 x 51 centimeters
- Samuel James Manson Auld, Gas and Flame in Modern Warfare (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1918).
Last updated: August 7, 2017