969.48.58 | Wounded soldier clinging to a german helmet

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Wounded soldier clinging to a german helmet
About 1915, 20th century
12.6 x 14.8 cm
This artefact belongs to : © Guelph Museums
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Keys to History

In spite of The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1906, in 1915 the Germans began using chlorine gas. On a beautiful spring evening, conditions were just right as the gas clouds billowed on a gentle breeze. The French to the left received the brunt of the gas, leaving the Canadians to fill the gap as the French fell.

The Germans continued to employ gas at various times during the war. The Allied soldiers found that some protection, though not very pleasant, could be achieved by urinating on a handkerchief and placing it over the mouth and nose to neutralize the gas.

  • What

    Photos such as these were packaged in sets and sold in Canada to record what soldiers were experiencing overseas.

  • Where

    Much of the First World War was fought on French and Belgium soil. This photo shows medics assisting the wounded behind the front line.

  • When

    The first German gas attack took place on April 21, 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres.

  • Who

    Many anonymous photographers and famous painters (such as Alfred Bastien (1873-1955), A. Y. Jackson (1882-1974) and Maurice Cullen (1866-1934) were employed by the Canadian government to document the First World War.