Putting training into practice: U.S. Marines standing in ranks with gas masks attached; France. 1918. Public Domain / mediadrumworld.com

By Ben Wheeler

FASCINATING historic footage of our forefathers preparing for chemical warfare shows troops staging mock battles and preparing for gas attacks in the build up to World War One.

The videos, which were captured at Camp Upton, N.Y, between 1918 and 1919, reveal soldiers going through drills including a procedure in a mock trench as well as having their reaction times tested when on a march.

Six U.S. soldiers, with five of them wearing gas masks and the other one holding his throat. Probably used for training purposes, 1918 – 1919. Public Domain / mediadrumworld.com

Other images reveal a lighter side of life at the training base, with the men partaking in a game of Baseball whilst wearing their gas masks, where Long Island can be seen in the background.

Camp Upton was built in 1917, with soldiers working side by side with labourers to complete its construction.

Leaving for Camp Upton, c.1915 – 1920. Public Domain / mediadrumworld.com

The camp was named after Civil War figure, Major General Emery Upton and would see some 40,000 men, mostly from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, pass through its gates to spend at least some of their military service.

The images from the camp are some of the earliest on record of wartime gas masks in use, and were the first masks able to effectively combat against poison gas. They were created in 1915 after the first deadly chlorine gas attack was launched by Nazi German forces earlier that same year in Ypres, Belgium.

Learning pistol firing at Camp Upton, 1917. Public Domain / mediadrumworld.com

It is believed that there were 1.25 million gas casualties in the First World War, of which 91,000 were fatalities.

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