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"Gas!" The Story of the Special Brigade.

Availability: In stock

Published: Edinburgh & London William Blackwood & Sons Ltd., 1934

Stock Code: 113959

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


First edition, first impression, uncommon in the dust jacket. From the library of Captain W. H. Livens, with his ownership inscription on the front free endpaper; tipped-in to the verso of the front free endpaper is a typed letter signed from E. Stephen Brooks of The Times sending this as a review copy and requesting a review for both The Times and the TLS (dated 24 October 1934, The Times embossed letterhead); this is accompanied by Livens review (clipped by him from The Times, dated in his hand 30/10/34 and initialled at the foot). On the front free endpaper he has noted four references in the text relating to the Livens Projector, one of the most significant British tactical innovations on the Western Front. As Foulkes comments on page 87: "Livens... was a 'go-getter', and his name will often appear in the following pages".
An important association copy: William Howard Livens (1889-1964) "was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in September 1914. After a spell as brigade signals officer he went to Chatham where he was in charge of motorcyclists. It was here in the spring of 1915, after the first German gas attack on the western front that, on his own initiative, he began to experiment with weapons for trench warfare. Soon he was asked to select recruits for the special companies of the Royal Engineers, then being formed in France by Colonel C. H. Foulkes for the purpose of retaliating with gas. He himself later went to France and became one of the company commanders... in France he experimented with the means of delivering a gas attack: Livens found a quantity of waste steel tubing which was made up into 8 inch projectors. Their range was just under a mile. The projector and bomb charged with lethal phosgene gas were first used at Beaumont Hamel on 13 November 1916 against a system of deep dugouts. The gas saturated the enemy shelters, inflicting many casualties and showing what could be done by firing salvos. Increased production of the new weapon made a much larger operation possible at Vimy Ridge on 4 April 1917. Livens observed from an aircraft 2000 detonated electrically and saw the gas travel 7 kilometres behind the German front line. Projectors became the principal allied gas weapon until the introduction of longer ranged shells charged with mustard and phosgene gas" (ODNB).

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Octavo. Original green cloth, gilt lettered spine and front cover. With the dust jacket.


Portrait frontispiece of the author, 20 illustrations from photographs on 15 plates, 7 coloured maps (5 folding), 2 graphs.


Jacket with a few old tape repairs on verso, spine toned, panels lightly soiled, a few chips and nicks and creases (small portion torn from bottom of front panel. An excellent copy with the publisher's 8 pp. publicity brochure loosely inserted.


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