But I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked along the bank. The bank was absolutely covered with bodies of gassed men. Must have been over a thousand of them…On 22 April 1915, German forces launched a renewed offensive against the Ypres Salient. Their attack featured a weapon that had not been used before on the Western Front – poison gas. Archibald James, an observer in the Royal Flying Corps, saw it being used for the first time.
One of Gillies' biggest successes was William M Spreckley (pictured) who lost his entire nose in the Battle of Ypres. The surgeon implanted a section of cartilage from one of Spreckley's ribs under his forehead. Then he "swung" the cartilage and a flap of skin into the nasal cavity to create a new nose. Over time the new tissue fused with the old and filled the hole.
On January 31st, 1915, the first major gas attack was released in what is now Poland. The Germans threw 18,000 shells of an early form of tear gas on the Russians. In April, many French Algerian troops died from suffocating at the Battle of Ypres in a cloud of chlorine. The British unleashed poison gas on the Germans and many of them were asphyxiated in the Battle of Loos. By 1917, the first version of the gas mask was released. The most widely used, and the most harmful, was mustard gas.