Stephenson, Charles.


The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 1st.ed., 2006. Xvi + 179 pp., 21 ills. D.j., 24 x 16cm. FINE. Thomas Cochrane, R.N., tenth Earl of Dundonald, courted controversy almost all his remarkable life, from brilliant frigate captain to exile in disgrace ; from hero of countries seeking liberation, to a pillar of society restored with full honours. He was a man of many parts, years ahead of his time, and an avid inventor of a whole range of items. This book concentrates on a particular era in Cochrane's life (prior to the fraud case which would shortly haunt him) when he horrified his contemporaries with a scheme to generate massive amounts of poison gas, accompanied by saturation bombing and smoke screens, to be used against England's oldest enemy, the French. With his 'stink ships' and high-explosive vessels, he worked out to the last detail how to deliver this terrible weapon of mass destruction. Warfare during the Napoleonic Wars was fought by gentlemen and Cochrane's scheme of chemical attack was met with astonishment and distaste. It might have been used during the Crimean War in the mid-1850s had it not ended when it did, as Cochrane's plans were not destroyed, just kept under wraps. During the First World War some of these documents disappeared and the Dundonald of that period feared they had fallen into German hands. Cochrane's concept was modified, adapted, and employed using chlorine gas by the Germans at Ypres in 1915 with horrific results. Survivors, some still living in recent decades, suffered for the rest of their lives from the effects. The author, drawing on previously unseen family archive papers describes the story of Cochrane's poison gas.

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