Hellfire Boys

Hellfire Boys

The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and the Race for the World's Deadliest Weapons

Book - 2017
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Traces the actions of the "Hellfire Battalion," a group of American engineers who were trained in gas warfare and were sent to the front lines in France to launch multiple assaults against the Germans.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2017
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780316264105
Characteristics: xxi, 535 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits, facsimile ; 25 cm


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Jul 14, 2018

Book conceived by accident on 1993 after excavator uncovered 144 rusted cover WWI tubes in residential neighborhood that formerly owned by American University leased to US army.
US corp of engineers were embarrassed to confirm second burial site including under South Korean Embassy.
Author pieced together the US Chemical warfare service born when United States declared war against Germany from key character's relatives, old newspapers & freedom of information requests. The list of character & brief description of each make it less confusing.
A lot of staid to colorful characters (German citizen that made chemical bomb that sabotage ships, con artist businessman to patriots) that alternated from turf war home front (how to produce chemical weapons, improved gas mask, should chemical weapons dropped from planes) to front lines (get samples from German dud weapons) to get Chemical section within US army in hurry up & wait situation.
Chemical weapons were the weapon of mass destruction bogeyman in WWI & WWII because it was relatively easy to made, relatively cheap & the REMFs thought it was humane weapon.
It certainly gave an economic boost to the chemical industry & a dry run for the Manhattan project because some of the former were assigned to the latter.


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