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  • Writer's pictureT. Logan Metesh

Drilling Into a Shell Filled with Mustard Gas

Filmed sometime between October 10th and October 18th, 1918, this film shows soldiers in the AEF’s Chemical Warfare Service taking apart a 155mm German shell filled with mustard gas.

Sergeants Ely and Carlson breech the shell by means of a large drill press, taking great care to note the exact moment when the drill pierces the shell, so that they can put their gas masks on.

The mustard gas liquid contents are carefully poured into a sample bottle. Then, the shell and funnel are sprinkled with chloride of lime to destroy the remaining poisonous substances.

Back in a lab, Lieutenant Crenshaw undertakes the scientific process necessary to distill the poisonous mustard gas down to its chemical makeup so that it can be analyzed.

So the next time you think your job might be dangerous, be thankful that you’re not somewhere in France during World War I literally drilling into a poisonous mustard gas shell all in the name of science.

Oh, and hazard pay? What’s that?

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