Bolimow – the First Use of Gas 3 January 1915


Map Code: Ax00215

The attack at Bolimow was planned to divert Russian attention towards Warsaw, allowing the build-up of troops in East Prussia to go unnoticed in preparation for a much larger offensive. The battle is notable as the first instance of the use of weaponized gas during the war, namely a non-lethal tear gas called xylyl bromide. Due to freezing winter temperatures the gas did not properly vaporize upon shell impact. The small amounts that did were blown back towards the German lines causing a swift retreat. The Russians then launched a counterattack but were hit hard by German artillery, suffering 40,000 casualties. Although an abject failure for both sides, the battle did serve its original purpose as a diversion, and the lack of obvious impact from the gas meant that the Russians felt little need to pass on knowledge of German intentions for its use as an offensive weapon.

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