U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY

AMEDD BIOGRAPHIES

AMEDD CORPS HISTORY

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS

HISTORICAL ART WORK & IMAGES

MEDICAL MEMOIRS

AMEDD MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS External Link, Opens in New Window

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORIES

THE SURGEONS GENERAL

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE SURGEON GENERAL

AMEDD UNIT PATCHES AND LINEAGE

THE AMEDD HISTORIAN NEWSLETTER

Appendix

Contents

APPENDIX

806

ABSTRACT OF PLAN FOR ORGANIZATION OF GAS SERVICE IN UNITED STATES ARMYa
[Submitted by Maj. Charles Flandin, of the French gas services]

Before drawing up the plan for the organization of a gas service in a new army it seems most useful to know how the armies at present in the field have organized their gas services, to find out the strong points in each organization, and to put them together, so that the new army may avoid the mistakes and make the best use of the information at hand.

It would be wrong, however, to pick out special points and simply combine them. Knowing what others have done, we have to ascertain along what lines our plans should he directed. Following are the points which should be examined before issuing definite proposals:
    1. Gas organization in the German Army.- The Germans were the first to use gas in warfare, and therefore had ample time to prepare before putting the new weapon into operation. For this reason they have a very complete organization.
The two principal features of the gas organization in the German Army are the following:
                 (a) Centralization.
                 (b) Specialization.
    (a) Centralization.- All matters pertaining to gas warfare are under the direction of a branch of the war office in Berlin called "central office for chemical questions." This office supervises all kinds of offensive and defensive research; it starts and controls all works, i. e., gas factories, gas-mask works, etc.; it organizes special regiments and trains them in the use of gas clouds; it delivers gas shells to the gunners and gives them directions for their proper use; it trains officers to become army advisers for the proper use of cylinder gas and gas shell, as well as officers to become advisers for the proper use of means of protection. The officers so trained remain in direct touch with the "central office for chemical questions,” giving to it all information collected at the front, sending back all materials or documents captured from the enemy, and receiving from the office and issuing to the army all kinds of valuable information. Neither loss of time nor waste of men will occur with such anl organization, the principal points of which will be made clear by the following scheme:

CHART - WAR OFFICE IN BERLIN, GENERAL STATION FOR CHEMICAL QUESTIONS

     (b) Specialization.- This is a most important point in tIhe German organization. Research work is in the hands of the German chemists who, like Haber, for instance, have been experilnentitlg with poison gases for years, and of physiologists whose ability in this field of knowledge is of the highest order. Factories are tinder the direction of the very men who have worked out gas in the laboratory, and all firms who are known to be making gas were among the best-known chemical firms in peace times.
      For using gas in warfare, officers have been selected among the chemists and meteor- ologists. Most of the men in special companies were employed in chemical plants during peace times.
      As for advisers, the officers attached to army and army corps are staff officers and are named "Stabdienstgasschutz Offiziere." These are in direct touch with the central office and are directed by it, although they are at the same time a part of the army staff.

a Appendix No. 7, History of Chemical Warfare Service, American Expeditionary Forces. Vol. 1. 103. Copy on file, Historical Division, Army War College.


807
 
    So we do not find in the German Army the same sharp distinction between war office and G. H. Q. as in the other armies, at least in regard to the gas service.
   
    2. Gas organization in the French Army.- When the first gas cloud was sent over by the Germans on April 22, 1915, neither the French nor the British had warning, and gas organization had to be arranged at once.

The most urgent question was that of protection against gas; afterwards there arose the question of developing the offensive. The present scheme of organization is as follows:
     "La direction des services chimiques " is part of the " Ministère de l'Armement." Two departments of the "direction des services chimiques" deal, respectively, with research and manufacturing. These are "inspection des études et expériences chimiques," and "direction du matériel chimique." The latter takes up all administrative questions; i. e., expenses for the former. "L'inspection des études et expériences chimiques" has two branches, two committees, called "Section d'Aggression" and "Section de Protection."

Besides research work carried on at laboratories and experimental fields, the "inspection des études et expériences chimiques" has the responsibility for the gas schools attached to all "dépôts de troupes" behind the lines, as well as the "centre d'instruction" and military schools for officers and noncommissioned officers. The "inspection" has to collect information on the effects of gas in warfare and to control the means of protection against gas. Therefore, it is in constant liaison with the armies, sending out to the front a special officer (Major Flandin) each time an important gas attack occurs. The "inspection" has also to control the manufacture of gas, gas and flame weapons, the filling of gas shell and bombs, the manufacturing of gas masks, oxygen apparatus, and other means of protection. Therefore, it is in constant touch with "la direction du mat eriel chimique," which is in charge of everything concerning manufacture and works. The latter is at the same time under control of "la direction des services chimiques" and part of "le sous-secrétariat des fabrications all Ministère de l'Armement," which controls all kinds of works, workers, raw materials, etc.

From the above-mentioned particulars it may be inferred that "la direction des services chimiques" assumes all scientific and technical works, issues weapons, distributes directions as to using them properly, and looks after the training of the men in protection against gas.

The actual use of gas in warfare is under the sole control of G. H. Q. Cylinder gas is delivered by special companies-two groups of two battalions (each group being attached to a "groupe d'armé") are actually under command of a colonel attached to G. H. Q.
Each battalion has two companies and a park. There are companies for repair, and so forth. Each company has everything at hand to install cylinders in the trenches and send out gas clouds, even being provided with a meteorological station for wind observation. One officer in each high staff is in charge of gas operations, in addition to his other duties. Gas shell are entirely in the hands of the artillery. Special directions for the use of gas shell have been given to gunners by pamphlets issued by "I'inspection des études et expériences chimiques" (Capitaine Nebout), at the request of G. H. Q., and special lectures are delivered to gunners in Paris and in the armies on the use of gas shell.

Protection against gas, especially by means of gas masks, was for a long time under the sole responsibility of troop officers and medical officers. Lately it was decided that in each regiment an '"officer de protection contre le gaz," commonly called "officier gazier," would be in charge of everything concerning protection against gas; e. g., distribution of gas masks, training, inspection, gas chambers, sprayers, protected dugouts, etc.

In each "groupe d'Armée" the "centre médico-légal," including several officers, is in charge of diffusing instruction and information, collecting information, making post-mortem examinations, etc. These officers are in touch with G. H. Q. and with "I'inspection des études et expériences chimiques." Also in each "groupe d'Armée" an "officier chimiste" attached to the "inspection de l'Artillerie" has to collect blind German gas shell and collect all information concerning the gas used by the enemy.

From the whole organization one may infer that many people have to deal with gas, but that nearly no one has to deal only with gas. However, results have not been bad. Gas is being used more and more every day and is killing more and more Germans. Losses from Germami gas are becoming lower, although gas attacks are gaining in intensity. (The table of French organization is presented on following page.)


808

MINISTERE DE L'ARMEMENT, DIRECTION DES SERVICES CHIMIQUES   SOUS SECRÉTARIAT DES FABRICATIONS

CHART

    3. Gas organization in the British Army.- This is plainly described in Lieutenant Colonel Hartley's report handed to Captain Boothby.
     The main characteristics of the British organization are the full independence between the service in France and the service in England. Also in England there is absolutely no touch between offensive and defensive, and thus the same work has sometimes to be done twice or more, and therefore there is a waste of time, waste of materials, and waste of men. However, I can not say enough in praise of the organization of the gas service in the army fighting in France, as I know personally of the excellent results both on the offensive and defensive side in the last months.
        
    4. Requirements of gas services in a modern army.- Present warfare is so different from former fighting that the directive principles of organization have also to be absolutely different. As regards gas, it seems to me that the organization ought to be less military than industrial. The results will be in direct proportion to the amount of gas properly sent out against the enemy. Therefore, the control of gas warfare has to be in the hands of those who know everything about it and can establish the best way to use it properly. Of course, these peoples have to know enough of the battle field to be able to give directions that may be actually followed in the field. Therefore, we are coming to the realization that the director of gas service has to be at the same time a chemist, a physiologist, a trader, a soldier, and, as soldier, to know infantry as well as artillery and tunneling work. As it is perhaps impossible to find such a broadly trained being, it means that the direction of gas service has to include chemists, physiologists, gunners, pioneers, and manufacturers. The second important point is that gas weapons have to be followed from the laboratory where they are invented to the factory where they will be eventually manufactured, and from there to the


809

field where they have to be used. In this way gas weapons will be better made and better used. The results given by gas have to be known as soon and as completely as possible by the people who establish the gas weapon. Therefore, the organization will be very much the same as the organization of an industry. The director of a great industry has to know what kind of a supply is wanted abroad; then he asks his research branch to find out the best means of making it; then he manufactures the goods; then he sends them out together with travelers to teach the way to use them and bring back information on the results. Thus he will be able to improve upon the methods of, and overcome, his competitors. What I have said for gas weapons may be said for means of protection. Knowing against what kind of gas we have to guard our troops, our chemists have to find out the best respirator, our manufacturers to issue them in large quantities under chemical control, then the men have to be trained before they go up to the line. All information has to be sent back to allow the chemists to improve the means of protection.

The third point is that everything must be arranged to avoid waste of time and effort. By actual collaboration British and French gas services have obtained very good results in this way. By joining in this same collaboration, the United States will be able to start earlier in gas warfare and to afford more quickly good protection for their troops. French laboratories will be only too pleased to take up any research for the American Army and give room to any American workers who may wish to study the subject. French officers of the gas service will be only too pleased to give all information and all directions even on the field to their younger allies.

5. Plan of organization.- From the points stated above, the conclusion may be drawn that no sharp division must be made between the offensive and defensive branches; nor between gas service at home and in the field.
   
    The direction of gas service ought to include:
        (1) Research department:
            (a) Chemists.
            (b) Physiologists and medical men.
            (c) Manufacturers.
            (d) Gunners.
            (e) Pioneers.
       (2) Manufacturing department:
            (a) Schools for special brigade.
            (b) Schools for gas officers.
            (c) Schools for artillery officers.
            (d) Schools for all others.
            (e) Schools for doctors and nurses.

   In this way all officers will be trained in the use of gas and means of protection. Special training has to be given to gas officers who are chemists and who will serve the army in this capacity (e. g., chemical advisers of the British Army).

In the Army, besides the special brigade for using cylinder gas and special gas weapons, gas officers or chemical advisers will be attached to each high staff and have the responsibility of planning gas attacks, protection against gas, and the collection of information. Gas officers ought to be attached to "Bureau des Operations, Bureau des Renseignements," and "Service de Sante." They have the supervision of means of protection in regiments and lower units, where instruction, training, and inspection are under the responsibility of all troop officers, who will not be allowed to go into the field without being specially trained in gas schools.

The gas officers belong to the Army, but at the same time they remain in permanent touch with the director of gas service, who gives them all technical directions. A special gas service will be established in France to make the liaison closer with the United Stated and the American Army as well as with the French and British gas services. All scientific, industrial, and military results will be exchanged between the three above-mentioned allies.

(Signed) CH. FLANDIN.
JULY 30, 1917.