No Place to Run: The Canadian Corps and Gas Warfare in the First World War

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UBC Press, Nov 1, 2011 - History - 304 pages

Historians of the First World War have often dismissed the important role of poison gas in the battles of the Western Front. In No Place to Run, however, Tim Cook shows that the serious threat of gas did not disappear with the introduction of gas masks. By 1918, gas shells were used by all armies to deluge the battlefield, and those not instructed with a sound anti-gas doctrine left themselves exposed to this new chemical plague.

Cook uses fascinating primary sources -- diaries, letters, reminiscences, published memoirs, and the official archival record -- to illustrate the horror of gas warfare for the average trench soldier. As the first chlorine clouds rolled across the fields during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, soldiers were forced to stuff urine-soaked handkerchiefs in their mouths in order to survive. As the gas war evolved, mustard gas plagued the soldiers at the front as it lay active in mud and snow for weeks on end. There was no escape from the pervasive nature of poison gas. Entering the dug-outs, it attacked men when they were least ready. In response, the Canadian Corps had to develop an anti-gas doctrine, a process that Cook describes in full.

No Place to Run provides a challenging re-examination of the function of gas warfare in the First World War, including its important role in delivering victory in the campaign of 1918 and its curious postwar legacy. It will be of interest both to historians and military buffs.


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About the author (2011)

Tim Cook is an archivist at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa.

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