When we talk about World War 1, we often discuss it from the Allies point of view because of where we are located in the world (Canada). But, wars are never one-sided and there is always another side of the story. War is about pride and everyone is fighting for something. For this assignment, I will be discussing the Second Battle of Ypres (which was the first battle the Canadians were involved in, in World War 1) from the perspective of the Germans though a diary entry.
Today on April 22nd, 1915 my army (the Germans) released around 160 tons of poisonous chlorine gas on the attack line held by the French, Moroccan and Algerian armies. This was our first successful attempt. A few months earlier during a battle I was not fighting, we released the gas but it had become inert in the cold.
Each soldier had to open the cylinders that contained the silent killer and it was an indescribable feeling. I was releasing something in the air that would kill our enemy within minutes. It gave me a sense of pride but also a small sense of guilt from taking innocent lives, but this was war. Everything was fair and I couldn’t disappoint my home country of Germany. We were relying on the wind to carry the gas to the line but some of our brothers were lost in the cross fire of releasing it.
The attack was successful and most of the French retreated and those who stood their ground, didn’t last very long. We didn’t expect this attack to be so successful; the enemy was incapacitated so quickly that after the gas had passed, we moved in as quickly as we could. The problem was though; we released the gas at 5:00 pm at night so we were losing daylight quickly. We closed the gap as best we could without getting too close to the gas and waited for the next morning.
The day is April 24th, 1915. Since the gas attack of the 22nd, the front line of the battle has moved to the nearby village of St. Julien. Today, we were planning another attack but this time our target has changed to the Canadians. We released another chlorine gas attack towards to front line and we quickly retreated, learning from the previous attack that we could lose some of our own soldiers to the gas. Rumors spread quickly that the Allies have figured out a way to survive the attack, urinating on a handkerchief or a sock and breathing through it. It was so simple! Something in their pee must be neutralizing the effects of the gas. This may be a setback but we will figure out a new way to eliminate the enemy quickly because we are Germany and we are strong!
The guilt of taking lives is slowing decreasing. My comrades have expressed similar feelings but this is war and we will be victorious. We will fight until the last drop of Allie blood is split. We are fighting for Germany and we will not lose.
By: Kelsey Ainscough