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Thread: Poison gas victim

  1. #1
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Default Poison gas victim

    Tomorrow it is November 11, so perhaps the right time to show a WW1 ID booklet and one of a victim of a gas attack, something which is associated with the ugliness of trench warfare.

    Marcel Klein (°1889) from Denain was a gunner second class who initially served with the 15th Artillery Regiment at the outbreak of WW1, eventually he ended up with 110th Heavy Artillery Regiment.
    Up until June 19 1918 he had survived without being injured but on this day his good fortune ended, he became the victim of poison gas, (mustard gas?) he survived it but his genitals were seriously burned.
    He never fully recovered from these burns and was recognized as a war invalid.
    His face wasn’t torn off by a piece of shrapnel, neither did he lose a limb but trying to pick up your life after the war as a young man with a damaged penis certainly also wouldn’t have been easy.
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    Senior Member Guillaume d'Orange's Avatar
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    Hi Peter, bad luck for M. Klein, reaching June 1918 alive and getting such a disabling wound.
    First time I see a "livret militaire", the "carte du combattant" was issued in 1930s so that French vets from WWI could get a state pension (some of them did not manage to get back to normal life and were a source of unrest, but to a far lesser degree than in Germany).

    I also see that M. Klein got scabies in July 1917 and was intoxicated by poison gas in September 1917. He was released from duty in July 1919.

    Since this is November 11 and you're talking about poison gas, the brother of my great grandfather was in Ypres/Langemarck on 22 April 1915, the day of the first gas attack in modern warfare (chlorine, 150 tons).
    He served in "2ème régiment de zouaves" within the "45ème division coloniale". He was captured that day and spent the rest of the war in Germany (I still have a German Jäger tobacco pipe he brought back).
    I can't imagine what it was like to discover that a new and unknown weapon was used against you.
    My family had no memories of him talking about that day. I guess he was not injured as he carried on being a postman walking 20km each day in in the French countryside.

    I attach an extract of his "fiche matricule", he came back from Germany in January 1919 and was released from duty in September 1919, almost one year since the armistice (Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919).
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    Last edited by Guillaume d'Orange; 11-11-2020 at 05:07 PM.

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    Senior Member jack944's Avatar
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    Default Wow

    Too bad...great reminder !

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    Period documents about the use of poison gas are very difficult to find.
    Thanks for showing!

    Only a few days after the first gas attack at Ypres a far relative wrote a postcard to his regulars' table friends:

    Out of joy that my former recruits, whom I trained in Comines, now forced the canal crossing at Ypres using stink bombs that my brother makes in Ingolstadt, I send a hearty greeting.
    Karl Kraus, 1st Lieutenant
    April, 26th 1915


    Since his brother was involved in the production of the gas, he sure knew what it really was. It was strictly forbidden to write/say "poison gas", but stink bomb was not subject to censorship.
    Last edited by Amberg; 11-12-2020 at 07:00 AM.

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    ID-booklet from a gas-unit member.
    Walter Schweitzer joined the German Army in January 1915 as a recruit of Pionier-Ersatz- Bataillon 11.
    From April 10th 1915 till September 3rd 1917 he served with Pionier Bataillon 36. One of the two German poison gas units!
    In 1918 he was transferred to Munster Lager, where he worked as a civil engineer on new buildings for the production of poison gas.

    Please note the signatures on pg. 9:
    Bülowius
    Karl Bülowius served as an officer in the First World War. After the war he joined the Reichswehr and worked as a commander in various units. In the Wehrmacht he served in World War II as an army pioneer leader in the 8th Army and in the Panzer Army Africa. Bülowius was taken prisoner by the US in Africa. He died of suicide in the United States at Camp Forest Hospital in Tennessee.

    and on pg.13:
    H. Geiger
    Johannes Wilhelm "Hans" Geiger (born September 30, 1882 in Neustadt an der Haardt; † September 24, 1945 in Potsdam) was a German physicist. He became known for the Geiger counter named after him and developed by him together with his doctoral student Walther Müller (also called Geiger-Müller counter tube).
    During the First World War he served as an artillery officer and worked in Fritz Haber's gas troops for the gas war.
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    Senior Member BerlinerLuebecker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amberg View Post
    ID-booklet from a gas-unit member.
    Walter Schweitzer joined the German Army in January 1915 as a recruit of Pionier-Ersatz- Bataillon 11.
    From April 10th 1915 till September 3rd 1917 he served with Pionier Bataillon 36. One of the two German poison gas units!
    In 1918 he was transferred to Munster Lager, where he worked as a civil engineer on new buildings for the production of poison gas.

    Please note the signatures on pg. 9:
    Bülowius
    Karl Bülowius served as an officer in the First World War. After the war he joined the Reichswehr and worked as a commander in various units. In the Wehrmacht he served in World War II as an army pioneer leader in the 8th Army and in the Panzer Army Africa. Bülowius was taken prisoner by the US in Africa. He died of suicide in the United States at Camp Forest Hospital in Tennessee.

    and on pg.13:
    H. Geiger
    Johannes Wilhelm "Hans" Geiger (born September 30, 1882 in Neustadt an der Haardt; † September 24, 1945 in Potsdam) was a German physicist. He became known for the Geiger counter named after him and developed by him together with his doctoral student Walther Müller (also called Geiger-Müller counter tube).
    During the First World War he served as an artillery officer and worked in Fritz Haber's gas troops for the gas war.
    Wow, some great documents in this thread! Thank you for sharing!
    Life, Liberty, Property

    Always looking for any information on the 97th Light Infantry (Jäger) Division, 1940-1945.

  7. #7
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input guys!

    An obituary card from a gas casualty.
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    Senior Member Guillaume d'Orange's Avatar
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    Gasvergiftung am 2. November 1918, das ist Pech !

    Amberg, I did not know there were specialized gas units in the Heer.
    An interesting Wikipedia article shows that M. Klein was the victim of the third-last gas attack (around Reims):
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsc...sten_Weltkrieg

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    Unfortunately very few documents concerning the German gas units survived WWII.

    Mid-January 1915: Two pioneer companies under Colonel Petersen and under the direction of Dr. Haber were established on the Wahn shooting range (called "Disinfection Troop").
    These two companies came to the 4th Army after training and were increased to six companies. On March 29, 1915, the OHL ordered its division into a regiment of two battalions with three companies each. The Rgt.Stab received reinforcement, consisting of a technical staff and a weather staff as well as a telephone department. Since April 12th, 1915 referred to as Pi.Rgt.35 (first gas attack on April 22nd, 1915 north of Ypres)
    Installation data:
    April 12, 1915: Pi.Rgt.35
    1.5.15: Pi.Rgt.36 (both regiments with two battalions each and MW-Komp .; both disbanded on 1.9.17)

    In September 1917 the Regiments were split up.
    1.9.17: Pi.Btl.35 (before I./35), Pi.Btl.36 (before I./36), Pi.Btl.37 (before II./35), Pi.Btl.38 (before II./36); each with six MW dept. from the MW comp. the Pi.Rgt.35 u. 36
    9/22/17: Gaswerfer Kp. 1 (Walter Schweitzer was member of this unit for a short time)
    1.2.18: Pi.Btl.39
    22.6.18: Pi.Btle. 94-96

    These are all units I was able to determine a poison-gas units.

    According to the ID-booklet of Walter Schweitzer he was member of Pionier Bataillon 36, from April 1915 till September 1917. But according to official sources the Pionier Bataillon 36 was first formed in September 1917! ???

    I'm sure, Walter Schweitzer was involved in the first gas attack of WWI
    Last edited by Amberg; 11-13-2020 at 07:53 AM.

  10. #10
    Community Organizer Hambone's Avatar
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    Good read!
    “Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.” - Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 1933-1945

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