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The Alpenkorps was deployed as of the end of May 1916 for operations in the Verdun area but at first had to give up units to other formations which had suffered severe losses.already. The Alpenkorps remained until the 10.of August 1916 for a total of six weeks of frontline deployment. During this time its losses were as follows:

Of a "Gefechtsstaerke" (fighting troops) of 10,500 men ( note: the Alpenkorps at this time was only the strength of a division) 274 officers were lost of these 101 were dead or missing. , 12,814 other ranks of which 3,655 were dead or missing. These losses exceeded the total strength when the actions began in May..

General von Dellmensingen, PLM , the commander stated after the war that the most valuable components were destroyed of this excellent formation of mountain troops created with so many efforts .

Source Das Deutsche Alpenkorps im Ersten Weltkrieg by Roland Kaltenegger.

Bernhard H. Holst

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Hello Chris.

No specifics as to gas casualties were given but I believe one can safely include such losses in the overall numbers .

Bernhard H. Holst]

Some time ago I recall reading a study of gas warfare and its effects. The study mentioned that unlike bullets and artillery which can kill immediately, gas takes a bit longer. Unless someone doesn't have a mask, they inhale enough to afffect their breathing and can often head to the rear and reach a treatment station. The study then looked at the statistics of various wounds treated, and found that deaths due to gas were relatively low.

Despite all the hype, instead of killing people, gas tended to S-L-O-W things down considerably. Putting a mask on can be done in less than 30 seconds. Once you put a mask on, the situation drastically changes. You can't see much except directly in front of you, and not all that far. The lenses will get fogged up and further cut down on how well/badly you can see. Gas combined with smoke shells and artillery rounds falling on a position, allow the side using it, to get close to the enemy front lines hopefully with fewer casualties to their own side.

That was the theory from the introduction of chlorine gas in 1915, and all the way through Verdun and into 1917. In 1917, newer gases started appearing and that altered the way gas warfare was used.

That year, the Germans began using a combination of different gases all at the same time. One gas was designed especially to pass through the filter and caused violent sneezing. That in turn would make breezing very hard and the person would be tempted to take the mask off to get a quick breath. That's where the other gases came in, and would then -really- put it to you.

Mustad gas, a contact agent that blistered exposed skin and which could penetrate light clothing, was not intended to kill people directly. The purpose of mustard was to saturate an area with a compound that would force the enemy out of the spot, and which could then be bypassed by your own troops without having to worry about your flanks or rear. Mustards rear use was to take an area out of play for a short while, and to gain a tactical advantage by neutralizing enemy positions that might not be possible to take without heavy losses, etc.

So, were there actual casualties or deaths from gas at Verdun? I'd say yes, but the actual numbers are probably not all that high. Years after the war however, men still continued to suffer from the effects of weakened or damaged lungs, and that in turn often led to early deaths after the war and were not directly chalked up to battlefield losses.


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