Foulkes, Major-General C. H.


William Blackwood & Sons, rep., July 1936. Xv + 361 pp., frontis., + 20 photo-plates + 7 cold., maps, 5 of which are fldg., + 2 cold., & fldg., graphs. Original green cloth covers re-backed in black cloth ; gilt ; 25 x 15cm. Ex-RAF College lib., with stamps & markings to half t-p., + top edge only + their label preserved & mounted onto the new e.p., ; corners a little rubbed o/w V.G.+. The author, a junior major in the Royal Engineers at the start of the Second World War, went on to become General Headquarters' Gas expert. His role was to conduct gas operations with the British Army in France and he was also made responsible for planning, organising, raising and training the Special Brigade, which was part of the Royal Engineers. Volunteers with a knowledge of chemistry were recruited from British universities and colleges and from the ranks of the BEF and were immediately promoted to the rank of chemical corporal. A base was found for the Special Brigade at Helfaut, only a few miles south of where GHQ were located at the time and initially two Special Companies were formed. Within four months, the companies had increased to four and the author was faced with the Battle of Loos, 25 September 1916, when the British used gas for the first time. The following year the four companies were expanded into the Special Brigade consisting of 16 Cylinder companies, one Projector company (flame thrower) and four Mortar companies, involving around 6,000 officers and men. The book details this background to the Special Brigade as well as all the operations in which gas was used and the various inventions such as the gas shell, the Stokes mortar and the flame projector. It also covers the new types of gases such as mustard gas and in particular the lethal phosgene which became our main battle gas for the rest of the war. The book includes a total of 21 photograph plates, 7 coloured maps, 5 of which are folding, plus 2 coloured and folding graphs. One of these shows British Gas Casualties which the author calculated at the time to be 181,053, with 6,109 proving fatal, but of course many lingered on until after the war before they succumbed to the effects of gas poisoning, so the true figure was not known. Fascinating and well-illustrated.

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