“Young Man . . . .”
One night, about two years before Pearl Harbor, young Ens. Arthur R. Manning was serving as communications watch officer of the carrier Saratoga. A message came in. After it was decrypted, Manning took it up to the ship's darkened bridge.
Stumbling about in the dark, Manning bumped into someone. Excusing himself, he asked, "Sir, are you on duty?"
The reply came swiftly, "Young man, this is the admiral. I am always on duty,” said Rear-Adm. Ernest J. King.
Gas Casualties on the Western Front
Although gas is widely perceived as a particularly horrendous weapons, during World War I mortality from gas attacks was surprisingly low. In fact, overall about 3.4 percent of the victims of gas died, which compares quite favorably with the approximately 16-percent mortality rate of those injured by more conventional weapons.
Among them, the four principal Western Front powers – France, Britain, Germany, and the U.S. – suffered slightly more than 520,000 gas casualties, of whom about 17,700 died. For various reasons the actual figures for each country vary considerably.
|Gas Casualties by Army|
There were a number of reasons for the marked differences among the powers with regard to both the overall number of gas casualties, as well as the percentage of those who died as a result of being gassed. Germany was the first country to use gas, introducing it in 1915, and was by far the largest user of gas in the course of the war. Five of the Allied powers – France, Britain, Italy, and the U.S. – used gas in the course of the war, all fronts taken together, for a total of about 46,500 tons, while Germany used some 55,000 tons, and her ally Austria-Hungary used another 9,000 (more, in fact, than Italy and Britain together). So Allied troops were more likely to be on the receiving end of a gas attack than on the delivering end. The fact that the American death rate from gas was so much lower than that for the other Allied is also easily explained, as the U.S. did not get large numbers of troops into action until early 1918, by which time anti-gas tactics and equipment had become fairly mature; it’s worth recalling that in 1915 the only protection Allied troops had against the first gas attacks were handkerchiefs soaked with urine.