Breaths of War

•October 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

One of the most terrifying things to come out of WWI and continues to terrify us is chemical warfare. The Germans were the first to apply it to war during the trench warfare against the Allies on the western front. The only way to use it at first was to wait till the winds was heading in the direction of the allies and release it. Later on it was applied to artillery shells and even worse, hand grenades for the German Stormtroopers (German commandos). Wilfred Owen gives us a terrifyingly accurate depiction of how horrible gas attacks can be in his work “Dulec et Decorum.”

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…

Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

The gas attacks in WWI were out right horrifying. The main gasses that were used by the Germans were Chlorine, Phosgene, and Mustard gas. Chlorine was a choking gas, Phosgene was a choking agent which burned ones skin and eyes, and Mustard gas choked you, permanently blinding you, burned you skin off. I found an article on the topic at: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/chemical_warfare/article_em.htm. which give a general overview of chemical warfare and some of the types of chemical weapons. There was no real way to see it coming either except for when you see you comrades down the trench keeling over in agony.

Later on the Germans used chemical weapons again in WWII. This time in addition to the Allies the Germans used it against the Jews in the concentration camps. The Germans created elaborate death traps which with a detestable sense of irony looked like shower rooms. The Germans herded the Jews into these death traps and locked them in while pouring chemicals into the vents killing countless innocents. Art Spiegelman gives us a very detailed representation of this in his work Maus on page 230-231 of The Complete Maus.

Chemical warfare is feared even today, but the gasses used in WWI & WWII are not the biggest fear, its nerve agent gas. Nerve agent gas is designed to stop ones entire nervous system. In doing so ones brain shuts down, heart stops, and lungs collapse in a matter of seconds.

If I had a drop of nerve agent the size of my fingernail and set it off, everyone in this classroom would be dead. Now imagine what one gallon of this stuff can do. -Professor Larry Cousineau, GVSU

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Piercing through the Veil

•October 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Due to a lack of time, this will be considered my fourth post to where we are at in class.

Darkness has always been one of the many things that we as a people have always feared, but those who’ve feared it the most would probably have to be the soldiers in the trenches of WWI. Between the two opposing sides was No Man’s Land, the decimated terrain littered with bodies of the fallen from each side, craters formed from artillery shells, and damaged barbed wire fences.

Speaking of damaged barbed wire, the character Roland from Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain was part of a unit which were charged to repair the neglected wires on the front. (Testament of Youth, pg. 241) Now the thing we have to remember is that the only safe way to venture into No Man’s Land was under the cover of night. Now one of the greatest fears of any patrolling unit was being out in No Man’s Land while while the moon was bright or the opposing side pops a flare illuminating the grim front and therefore leaving the patrolling units in the open for machine-gun fire or sharpshooter fire.

In Roland’s case the moon was brightly lit and he was spotted by a German machine-gunner and was killed. (Testament of Youth, pg. 242) This was a normal occurrence out in No Man’s Land due to the fact that there was no real way of seeing in the dark so that you wouldn’t be advancing towards enemy forces.

Nowadays, due to technological advances we’ve developed night-vision, which gives us the ability to see in the dark with a greenish tint. Today we can use night-vision with rifle scopes, goggles, and as well with cameras which you can see at: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/other-gadgets/nightvision5.htm.

Now if Roland or any other Allied soldier had access to night-vision technology the fear of dark when roaming No Man’s Land at night would be greatly lessened.

Interesting discoveries

•September 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In this post I’ll be listing and giving a little description of a few blogs that I’ve subscribed to through Google Reader.

My first blog that I subscribed to was BBC News which can be found at  http://news.bbc.co.uk/. The reason I chose BBC News is because I find that it is a news site that doesn’t let American politics dictated its content. It also seems to have a more world connection with its stories rather than a strict American connection.

My second blog that I subscribed to was The Captain’s Journal which can be found at http://www.captainsjournal.com/. the reason I chose this blog is that it seemed very professional in terms of how it was constructed and in terms of its very detailed content.

My third blog that I subscribed to was actually a podcast that I found through Military.com which was From The Editor’s Desk which can be found at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FTEDPodcasts. The reason why I chose this podcast is because after listening to a couple of feeds, I felt that FTED got right down to business and got straight to the point.

War & Peace Start

•September 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This is my first post.

Hello world!

•September 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!