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Unformatted text preview: Journal Part Eight: World War 1 Mud and Khaki, Memoirs of an Incomplete Soldier Henry S. Clapham Background to the Document Until 1914 Henry S. Clapham had led a conventional life, notably lacking in adventure or excitement. Born in 1875 in the town of Hull, he graduated from Queen's College in Taunton, a boarding school for the sons of well-to-do families. After clerking in a law office, he married and began a career as a solicitor in London. His favorite entertainment was the card game bridge. In the fall of 1914, however, he answered the call to enlist and by January 1915 was a soldier in the British army fighting to hold back the Germans in northern Belgium. He fought there until October 1915, when a hand wound made him unfit for further service. On his return to England he resumed his career as a lawyer and, like many other returning soldiers, prepared his diary notes for publication as a book, which appeared in 1917 with the title Mud and Khaki. It went through several printings and was republished in 1930. Clapham's book describes his experiences fighting in and around the northern Belgian city of Ypres, a commercial city of some 200,000 in the low, wet, largely unforested region that abuts the English Channel. It was the site of three major battles, one in the fall of 1914, another in 1915, and the last and bloodiest in 1917. Clapham fought in the so-called Second Battle of Ypres, which began in April 1915 when General Erich von Falkenhayn ordered a German attack on the entrenched English, Canadian, French, and French colonial troops to firm up German lines and divert allied troops from an anticipated offensive further to the south. After the Germans abandoned their major offensive in late May, fighting continued in the region, as Clapham's memoir clearly shows. The Second Battle of Ypres saw the introduction of poison gas on the Western Front. Chlorine gas, a product of the German dyestuff industry and developed by the giant German chemical company IG Farben, could be released from cylinders or delivered by artillery shells. It stimulated the lungs to produce fluid, causing the victim to drown. Thousands of soldiers around Ypres died as a result of German gas attacks, but the effectiveness of the new weapon diminished when soldiers were supplied with respirators, or gas masks, and learned that holding a wet (often urine-soaked) handkerchief over one's nose and mouth provided some protection. Such countermeasures stimulated both sides to develop other types of poison gas, including phosgene, which causes asphyxiation, and mustard gas, which causes severe blistering. H. S. Clapham, Mud and Khaki: Memoirs of an Incomplete Soldier, Hutchinson & Co., 1930, pp. 141- 153....
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2008 for the course HIST 1000C taught by Professor Cooper during the Spring '08 term at St. Johns Duplicate.
- Spring '08