The Chemical Warfare Service: Organizing for War

The Chemical Warfare Service: Organizing for War

The Chemical Warfare Service: Organizing for War

The Chemical Warfare Service: Organizing for War

Excerpt

This is the first of three volumes devoted to the activities of the Chemical Warfare Service in World War II. Part One of the present volume traces the organization and administration of the Chemical Warfare Service from its origins in World War I up through World War II. Part Two deals with training of military personnel for offensive and defensive chemical warfare in the same period.

Even more than other elements of the Army, the Chemical Warfare Service (designated Chemical Corps after World War II) felt the effects of the government's restrictions on personnel and funds in the years between the two world wars. This was partly the aftermath of international efforts to outlaw gas warfare and partly the result of antipathy to that type of warfare on the part of various high government officials. Certain members of the War Department General Staff, including at times the Chief of Staff himself, were opposed to gas warfare. Consequently the Chemical Warfare Service was considered as more or less a necessary nuisance.

The movement toward general national preparedness that got under way in the late 1930's led to an increase in the stock levels of certain chemical warfare items. Included in 1938 Educational Order legislation providing for a build-up of a limited number of Army items was the gas mask. Later legislation and War Department directives enabled the Chemical Warfare Service to make still further preparations for gas warfare, offensive and defensive. These activities, continued throughout the war years, helped to deter the enemy from initiating gas warfare. During World War II, in addition to discharging its responsibility for gas warfare, the Chemical Warfare Service carried out a number of other chemical warfare missions for which it had little or no preparation in the prewar years. The service was also assigned a biological warfare mission.

Although any of the three volumes on the Chemical Warfare Service can be read as an entity, the first seven chapters of the present work will serve to illuminate the remainder of the CWS story. Against the background provided by Part One, the account of specific functions such as military training (covered in Part Two of this volume), research, procurement, and supply (covered in the second volume), and chemical warfare activities in the oversea theaters of operations (covered in the third volume) will emerge in clearer perspective.

A further word of explanation with regard to Part One may be of assistance to the reader. The aim here is to discuss developments in organization and . . .

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