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Section II, Chapter XXII

Contents

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SECTION II.

CHAPTER XXII.

DIVISION OF GAS DEFENSE.

PRELIMINARY WORK.

The question of responsibility for the supply of gas masks and other equipment necessary for offensive and defensive gas warfare, as well as for the training of personnel, was fraught with considerable confusion during the early part of the World War. The Medical Department became directly involved in the matter when the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications, at a meeting held on November 5, 1915, in considering certain respirators in use by the British, went on record as follows: 1

Certain practices in the present European war have indicated the necessity for providing some equipment of this kind which, being an entirely new development, does not at present devolve upon any of the supply departments, but, in the opinion of the board, the design and supply should not be left unassigned and should be assigned to the Medical Department.

An extract from the records of this meeting, including the paragraph quoted above, was submitted to the Surgeon General by The Adjutant General on November 18,1915, for remark. On November 22,1915, the Surgeon General concurred in the recommendation contained in the extract from proceedings of Board of Ordnance and Fortifications." 2

On December 7, 1915, The Adjutant General transmitted to the Surgeon General the information 3 "that the Secretary of War approves the recommendations of the Board of Ordnance and Fortification and the Surgeon General as to the development and design of respirators, but reserves his decision as to the department which will supply them until further report shall be received from the Surgeon General."

Following this communication the Surgeon General assigned a number of medical officers to duty with the British and French armies as observers on gas defense. Reports from these observers were received from time to time during1916. 4

The question of responsibility for the supply of gas masks and other gas-defense equipment was brought up again on February 14, 1917, when the Quartermaster General forwarded the following communication to the Adjutant General:

The question of being prepared to issue gas masks and goggles to the Army in case the need therefor should arise having been brought to the attention of this of lice, information is desired as to which bureau of the War Department would be called upon to furnish these articles should issue of same become necessary.

This communication was forwarded by The Adjutant General to the Surgeon General, who replied on February 19, 1917. 6

The Medical Department would be glad to undertake the furnishing of gas masks and goggles for the Army. including the combatant forces, if it had sufficient funds and authority of law so to do.


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The previous assignment of this duty to the Medical Department was apparently overlooked, or at least not mentioned in the present partial a ceptance of the duty.

On April 7, 1917, the Ordnance Office 7 reminded The Adjutant General of the assignment to the Medical Department by the Secretary of War of the duty of supplying gas-defense equipment,' thus absolving the Ordnance Office from responsibility, so far as "developing this feature for the defensive purposes, although it has used masks in connection with the development, for offensive use, of asphyxiating and lachrymose gases."

This communication from the Ordnance Office prompted the following from the Quartermaster General to the Surgeon General: 8 "It is understood that your office has been charged with the procurement of a supply of gas masks."

To this the Surgeon General replied, 9 again apparently overlooking the earlier assignment of the task of supplying gas masks and other gas-defense equipment: " It is considered that gas masks are a part of the Army equipment. It is believed that the purchase of them more properly pertains to the Quarter- master and Ordnance Departments, and this office can not undertake to procure them."

The Quartermaster General then requested a decision from The Adjutant General as to whether the Quartermaster Corps or Ordnance Department was to make preparation for supplying gas masks. 10

The matter of responsibility was definitely placed upon the Medical Department on May 4, 1917, 11 when The Adjutant General forwarded the following information to the Quartermaster General, the Chief of Ordnance, and the Surgeon General: "The Secretary of War directs that the Surgeon General be informed that his department will be charged with furnishing gas masks and other prophylactic apparatus for the Army."

On May 16, 1917, the responsibility was further cleared up by the following memorandum from the Acting Chief of Staff to The Adjutant General, transmitted on the same date to the Surgeon General by indorsement from The Adjutant General: 12

The Secretary of War directs that instructions be given for the supply of gas masks, steel helmets, chemical sprayers for cleaning trenches, and oxygen apparatus for resuscitating the wounded as follows:

To the Surgeon General for the supply during the period ending June 30. 1918, of the following articles:

    Gas masks............................................................................................1,100.000

    Chemical sprayers for cleaning trenches.....................................................   8,500

    Oxygen apparatus for resuscitating wounded ..............................................  1,000

To the Chief of Ordnance for supply during period ending June 30, 1918, of the following:

    Steel helmets .......................................................................................     550.000

In the meantime actual work had been accomplished in another quarter. On April 6, 1917, a committee on noxious gases in warfare was formed in the National Research Council in conjunction with the Bureau of Mines of the Department of the Interior. 13

Following the organization of this committee and the assignment of the Medical Department to the duty of procuring gas masks, the member delegated from this department became the representative of the Medical Department in


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all matters of gas defense, pending the organization of the Division of Gas Defense in the Surgeon General's Office. 14

Further plans for the prosecution of work connected with gas defense are outlined in the following memorandum, under date of June 9, 1917, from the Surgeon General to the Secretary of War. 15

Memorandum for the Secretary of War.

Subject: Laboratory for gas masks.

The committee on noxious gases of the National Research Council, of which committee Mr. Van H. Manning, Director of the Bureau of Mines, is chairman, has undertaken the establishment and operation of an (extensive research into the use of asphyxiating shell gases in naval and military warfare.

This committee has perfected preliminary arrangements for the installation in a building loaned by the American Methodist University, Massachusetts Avenue extended, Washington, D. C, of a central laboratory to control this work. A large number of chemists and laboratories throughout the country have volunteered their services and will be directed through the central laboratory. A share of the expenses of the entire work will be borne by the Army, Navy, and Bureau of Mines. The committee on noxious gases has allotted to the Army and Navy the sum of $175,000 for carrying on this work. The committee has further recommended that $125,000 be paid by the War Department and $50,000 by the Navy Department. The allotment of the Navy Department of $50,000 was made by the Secretary of the Navy on June 6, 1917. It is strongly recommended that the allotment of $125,000 be authorized by the War Department for the purpose of carrying on these investigations, this amount to be immediately available.

The importance and necessity of thorough and adequate development of asphyxiating gases and means of defense and offense, both by the Army and Navy, need no emphasis.

The War Department is represented on the committee on noxious gases by Colonel Babbitt, of the Bureau of Ordnance, and by Major Williamson, of the Medical Corps.

The following resolution was adopted by the executive committee of the National Research Council and approved by the General Munitions Board of the Council of National Defense, and then forwarded to the Council of National Defense:

"Resolved, That the National Research Council recommends to the Council of National Defense, through the General Munitions Board, that a laboratory be established near Washington for the investigation of problems connected with the use of noxious gases in warfare; and that the sum of $175,000 be allotted from funds which may be available for the equipment, administration, and personnel of this laboratory, said allotment to be expended by the War and Navy Departments under the direction of the Bureau of Mines, chairman of the committee on noxious gases of the National Research Council."

This matter was presented to the Council of National Defense at its meeting on June 8, and referred to the Secretary of War, Secretary of Navy, and the Secretary of Interior for such action as they deemed necessary.

Attached hereto is a summary of the progress of the work to date.

On July 2. 1917, the National Research Council forwarded to the Secretary of War a memorandum stating that at a meeting of the French scientific mission, representatives of the Army and Navy. and members of the General Munitions Board, to discuss the gas question, certain signal points were developed. Among these was the following: Organization plans for the gas service have already been partially worked out and it remains to draw the units of the organization together. The offensive branch of the gas service is handled by the Ordnance Department, the defensive by the Medical Department. the questions of research by the Bureau of Mines, and the Engineers will probably be charged with the actual handling of the material on the battle field." This memorandum was forwarded ly The Adjutant General to the Surgeon General with the information that the action of the meeting. as reported in the memorandum, was approved. In further prosecution of the work in hand it was arranged that the officer in charge of the manufacture and production of gasmasks, ordnance office, be commissioned in the Sanitary Corps and assigned to active duty at the medical supply depot, New York City, for the purpose of superintending the manufacture, purchase, and inspection of gas masks and other defensive apparatus.


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ORGANIZATION OF DIVISION OF GAS DEFENSE

By the summer of 1917 the work in connection with gas defense had increased to such extent that it was deemed expedient to organize a division in the Surgeon General's Office for the coordinated handling of all matters related to the duties imposed upon the Medical Department in this connection. Under date of August 31, 1917, therefore, the Surgeon General issued the following orders :16

ORDERS:

Under date of May 16 last the Secretary of War directed the Surgeon General to provide for the supply of gas masks. chemical sprayers for cleaning trenches, and oxygen apparatus for resuscitating wounded during the period ending June 30, 1918.

The duty of providing for the supply of these appliances, of repairing them, and of giving instructions in their use is performed by a special field service of the Medical Department, known as the Gas Defense, the principal office of which is located in this city. It comprises three branches, to wit: (1) Field Supply Section; (2) Overseas Repair Sections; (3) Training Section.

The Field Supply Section will purchase or manufacture the appliances named, inspect them, store them, and issue them as needed.

The Overseas Repair Sections will receive issues made in bulk from home country, test them, store them, and issue them to troops, as required; they will also be charged with the disinfesting and repair of used or injured masks abroad, including all necessary inspections and tests incident thereto.

The Training Section will provide instructions regarding the use of these appliances, the handling of gases used for training purposes, the training of officers and men in the use of gas- sampling apparatus. gas detectors, and other means of defense against gases, and will communicate the same to all concerned.

Col. Weston P. Chamberlain, M. C., until further orders, will be in charge of the Gas-Defense Service, with such commissioned and enlisted assistance as may from time to time be assigned thereto.

Until further orders there will be allotted to the Gas-Defense Service the following personnel of the Sanitary Corps: 1 major, 28 captains, 115 first lieutenants, 10 hospital sergeants, 64 sergeants first class, 118 sergeants, 71 corporals, 90 privates first class, 334 privates.

Major General, U. S. Army, Surgeon General.

The work was prosecuted along these lines, with the necessary changes in personnel, Until the end of June, 1918, when Gas-Defense Service ceased to be under the control of the Medical Department. This included not only gas masks for men but for "all horses and mules of combat divisions in France."17

FIELD SUPPLY SECTION.

The Field Supply Section of the Gas-Defense Service was charged with technical matters, procurement, inspection, and control. 15 It superintended the purchase, manufacture, and inspection of gas masks and similar appliances for the United States Army. A list of the articles which it supplied includes trench fans, chemical-testing tubes, vacuum bottles, glass jars for making analysis of gas, weather vanes, special overalls and suits for protection against certain gases, special gloves for handling articles which might come in contact with dangerous chemicals, and a specially prepared paste for rubbing on the body to protect it against various gases. It also provided supplies for the training camps, such as gas bombs, smoke boxes, and various articles for carrying on mimic gas warfare. The articles supplied by this section were not standard articles procurable in commercial markets, but were specially designed and manufactured or contracted for by the Gas-Defense Service and assembled in


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the gas-defense plant at Long Island City, N. Y., or in various plants under the direct supervision of the Gas-Defense Service.

The gas-defense plant at Long Island City was the outcome of a letter, November 17, 1917, from the officer in charge, Field Supply Section, Gas-Defense Service, stationed in New York City, to the Surgeon General, suggesting the establishment of a Government-operated plant for gas mask manufacture. 18 This was forwarded to the Secretary of War by the Surgeon Gen-eral, through military channels, with recommendation of approval. On November 20, 1917, the following memorandum (War Department) was submitted to the Secretary of War, together with the plan for the Government-owned plant: 19

    1. This is a request, approved by the Surgeon General, for authority to proceed with the manufacture of gas masks.

    2. On November 16, 1917, the Judge Advocate General approved the memorandum which held that the Surgeon General, through the Gas-Defense Service, was authorized to manufacture gas masks needed by the Army.

    3. Pursuant to the memorandum you approved of the leasing of the Stewart Building for this purpose.

    4. Attached hereto is a memorandum authorizing the Surgeon General's Department, through the Gas-Defense Service, to proceed with the manufacture of gas masks.

The Secretary of War immediately authorized the establishment of the Government-operated plant for the manufacture of gas masks in line with the plan submitted. 19

This plant, at the time of the peak of production, had 4,691 civilian employees. From the time of the organization of the service by the Medical Department to the end of June, 1918, when it relinquished control, the following total production was accomplished: 20

[table]

Of the total number of gas masks, 1,432, 224 were delivered to the quartermaster at the port of embarkation for shipment overseas. The balance were used for experimental and training purposes in the United States.

THE OVERSEAS REPAIR SECTION.

On October 25, 1917, Overseas Repair Section No. 1 left for France with four officers and 110 men. 21 The duties of this section, according to the organization plan, 16 were to receive issues made in bulk from the United States, to test them, to store them, and to issue them to troops as required. The disinfection and repair of used or injured masks abroad, including all necessary inspections and tests incident thereto, constituted part of the responsibility of this section,


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TRAINING SECTION.

The Training Section of the Gas-Defense Service was organized in response to the opening, during the summer of 1917, of the Gas-Defense School in connection with the School of Musketry of the Infantry School of the Army at Fort Sill, Okla.22 On July 25, 1917, The Adjutant General directed the Surgeon General to submit the names of nine officers of the Medical Department with a view to the selection of three for duty as instructors in gas defense at that school. 22 This was promptly complied with. 23 From time to time officers reported for duty at the school, until, by October, 1917, all the divisions were provided with gas officers, and no further courses were held.

The Surgeon General, however, from the beginning, experienced difficulty in securing satisfactory personnel for this service. 24 On December 20, 1917,the Surgeon General wrote to The Adjutant General as follows:25

A large number of men must be commissioned to care for the operation of the new plant authorized in the memorandum of the Secretary of War on November 20. This plant will employ a force of approximately 3,000 people, and all of the inspection work and much of the administrative details must be handled by commissioned officers. It is felt that eventually the whole plant may have to be put on a military basis with no civilian employees as administrative officers.

The Gas-Defense Service should have absolute authority to obtain commissions and with such dispatch that men can be assigned within a week after the commission is requested. The Gas-Defense Service should also have authority to obtain promotions in the grades of the Sanitary Corps in accordance with the allowances authorized by the Surgeon General.

This request was denied on January 11, 1918. 27

By the end of December, 1917, the trained personnel, which had been developed as part of the Sanitary Corps, consisted of 186 commissioned officers and 1,199 enlisted men. 27

On February 27, 1918, the commissioned personnel of this section was transferred to the Engineers, and training in gas-defense methods was placed under the Chief of Engineers. 28

On June 28, 1918, the Chemical Warfare Service was organized, 17 and the gas defense ceased to be a function of the Medical Department. All personnel, property, obligations, and funds were transferred to the new service.

PERSONNEL.a

(April, 1917, to December, 1919.)

Birmingham, H. P., Brig. Gen., M. D., chief.

Chamberlain, Weston P., Col., M. C., chief.

Lyster, William J., Col., M. C., chief.

Williamson, Llewellyn P., Col., M. C., chief

Dewey, Bradley, Lieut. Col., S. C., chief.

Kremers, E. D., Lieut. Col., M. C.

Besse, A. L., Maj., S. C.

Eisenman, F. J., Maj., M. C.

Woodruff, J. C., Maj., S. C.

    a In this list have been included the names of those who at one time or another were assigned to the division during the period, April 6, 1917 to December 31, 1919.

There are two primary groups-the chiefs of the division and the assistants. In each group names have been arranged alphabetically, by grades, Irrespective of chronological sequence of service.


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Brophy, Wm. E., Capt., S. C.

Dewey, F. A., Capt., S. C. (major, Chemical Warfare Service).

Dickinson, A. C., Capt., S. C.

Mayo-Smith, Richmond, Capt., S. C.

Noonan, W. J., Capt., S. C.

Puff, R. V., Capt., S. C.

Taylor, R. E., Capt., S. C.

Walton, J. H., Capt., S. C.

Babbit, J. S., First Lieut., S. C.

Balfe, T. W., First Lieut., S. C.

Blake, K. B., First Lieut., S. C.

Duff, L. B., First Lieut., S. C.

Eason, H. M., First Lieut., S. C.

Elliott, L. A., First Lieut., S. C.

Fleming, W. F., First Lieut., S. C.

Foster, H. B., First Lieut., S. C.

Gibson, Richard, First Lieut., S. C.

Herman, E. C., First Lieut., S. C. (captain, Chemical Warfare Service).

Huenick, H. L., First Lieut., S. C.

Kay, W. De Y., First Lieut., S. C.

McNeil, W. I., First Lieut., S. C.

Mitchell, J. H., First Lieut., S. C.

Mulford, W. J., First Lieut., S. C.

Pierce, E. P., First Lieut., S. C.

Prentice, P. B., First Lieut., S. C.

Rile, W. M., First Lieut., S. C.

Sheehan, C. V., First Lieut., S. C.

Stapleton, E. L., First Lieut., S. C.

Vesscher, R., First Lieut., S. C.

Watson, W. N., First Lieut., S. C.

Wolfe, J. S., First Lieut., S. C.

Zimmerman, Joseph, First Lieut., S. C.

REFERENCES.

(1) Memo. from Adjutant General to Surgeon General, November 18, 1915. On file, Record Room, S. G. O. 153462 (Old Files).

(2) Second indorsement, Surgeon General to Adjutant General, November 22, 1915. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 153462 (Old Files).

(3) Fifth indorsement, Adjutant General to Surgeon General. December 7, 1915. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 153462 (Old Files).

(4) Reports from observers on gas defense. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 150021 (Old Files).

(5) Letter from Quartermaster General to Adjutant General, February 14, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(6) Second indorsement, February 19, 1917, Surgeon General to Chief of Ordnance. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(7) Third indorsement, Ordnance Office to Adjutant General, April 7,1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(8) First indorsement, Quartermaster General to Surgeon General, April 9, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(9) Second indorsement, Surgeon General to Quartermaster General, April 12, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).


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(10) Third indorsement, Quartermaster General to Adjutant General, April 14, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(11) Third indorsement, Adjutant General to Quartermaster General, Chief of Ordnance, and Surgeon General, May 4, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(12) Memo. from Acting Chief of Staff to Adjutant General, May 16, 1917; first indorsement, Adjutant General to Surgeon General, May 16, 1917. On file, Mail and Record Division, A. G. O., 2598068 (Old Files).

(13) Summary of the work of the Bureau of Mines on noxious gases, June 9, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(14) Orders (S. G. O.), April 7, 1917. Subject: Maj. Llewellyn P. Williamson, M. C. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 50163 (Old Files).

(15) Memo. from Surgeon General to Secretary of War, June 9, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 156296 (Old Files).

(16) Orders (S. G. O.), August 31, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 201948 (Old Files).

(17) G. O. No. 62, W. D., June 28, 1918.

(18) Letter from officer in charge, Field Service Supply Section, Gas Defense, to Surgeon General, November 17, 1917. On file, Mail and Record Division, A. G. O., 426.4 (E. E.).

(19) Memo. War Department to the Secretary of War, November 20, 1917; approval by the Secretary of War, November 20, 1917. On file, Adjutant General's Office, 426.4 (E. E.).

(20) Weekly report, Gas Defense Service, Field Supply Section, June 29, 1918. On file, Weekly Report File, Record Room, S. G. 0. (Gas Defense).

(21) Letter, from officer in charge, Gas Defense Service, to Surgeon General, October 5, 1917. Subject: Overseas Repair Section. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 210189 (Old Files). Confidential Order No. 92, War Department, pars. 7 and 14, October 11, 1917. On file, Confidential Orders, Commissioned Personnel Division, S. G. O.

(22) Letter from Adjutant General to Surgeon General, July 24, 1917. Subject: Instructors at the School of Musketry. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 193166 (Old Files).

(23) First indorsement, from the Surgeon General, United States Army, to The Adjutant General, August 2, 1917. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 193166 (Old Files).

(24) Correspondence. Subject: Personnel for Gas Defense Service. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 201948 (Old Files).

(25) Letter from Surgeon General to Adjutant General, December 20, 1917, pars. 4 and 6. On file, Adjutant General's Office, 426.4.

(26) Third indorsement, Adjutant General to Surgeon General, January 11, 1918. On file, Mail and Record Division, A. G. O., 426.4.

(27) Annual report of the Surgeon General, United States Army, 1918, p. 324.

(28) S. O., No. 48, W. D., February 27, 1918.