World War I
A New Weapon - Gas

A New Weapon - Gas
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.01

     challenging words:    determined, rethink, stalemate, unacceptable, uncivilized, unthinkable, vaporize, occurrence, further, poisonous, launched, unsuccessful, command, drastic, pinpoint, respiratory
     content words:    Western Europe, World War I., In August, In April, Second Battle, United States, By September, World War

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A New Weapon - Gas
By Jane Runyon

1     By the fall of 1914, the Germans realized that their plan for a quick, decisive conclusion to their war against Western Europe was not going to happen. The British and French troops had entrenched themselves and refused to be defeated. The fighting had reached a stalemate. The Germans knew that they needed to do something drastic to swing the tide of victory to them. It was suggested that the use of gas as a weapon might be just the answer they needed.
2     In the past, it had been generally agreed that the use of gas as a weapon was unacceptable. It was uncivilized. The French, however, decided to make use of gas in the first month of World War I. In August of 1914, the French fired grenades filled with an irritating tear gas at the German lines. This gas, as the name implies, caused the eyes to fill with tears and make it hard to see. It also hurt.
3     In October of the same year, the Germans retaliated against the French by firing canisters of gas which brought on violent fits of sneezing. Three months later, they stepped up their gas attack by using tear gas in an attack on the Russians. There was one big problem with this attack. The gas was loaded into the firing canisters in a liquid form. In order for the attack to be successful, the liquid needed to change to a vapor that would envelop the enemy. The Germans made their attack at the end of January. What kind of weather would you expect to find in Russia at the end of January? If you said cold, you are absolutely correct. The temperatures were so cold that the liquid could not vaporize. The attack was unsuccessful.

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