• Rare World War I Period Letter Mentions America's First Chemical Warfare, The First Gas & Flame, In Fraance

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    The First Gas Regiment, Chemical Warfare Service, was the first established offensive chemical warfare unit in the United States Army. Beginning as the 30th Engineer Regiment (Gas and Flame) in 1917, the regiment has been redesigned several times, most recently to the 2nd Chemical Battalion. The regiment traces its origins to General Order 108 from the United States War Department on August 15th, 1917.  The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) decided to establish a Gas Service. The regiment’s first enlisted man was F.C. Devlin, who applied for enlistment in Pittsburgh, enlisted at Washington Barracks and reported for duty at Camp American University in Washington, DC.  On December 26, 1917, two companies sailed for France. The enlisted personnel included chemists, engineers and mechanics. The regiment operated throughout the St. Mihiel and Argonne-Meuse drives and was on the line at the time of the signing of the armistice.


    The Meuse-Argonne Offensive would involve 1.2 million American troops, making it the largest battle in U.S. history. In three hours, the Allies used more ammunition than both the North and South had fired in the entire Civil War.  Finally, by November, troops broke through the German lines and advanced rapidly.  Austria-Hungary gave up. Germany stood alone. The Allied victory was all but complete, yet the troops in the field continued to fight and die while their leaders negotiated an end to the war.


    4 pp, 5 x 6 ½, Monday, October 29, 1917, J. Darrington ALS, to Mr. Huckel.


    “Very sorry to hear of your sickness and that you could not be with us at the Pastor’s installation. We fully expected you, even had the bed all fixed for you. I enclose two clippings what I feel will prove of interest...The attendance at the installation was not as large as hoped...He was not as well known here as u North...Paul is getting along finely and more than pleasant. He has sent us a picture of the class Lieutenants and will finish Nov. 14, then expects to be assigned to his company...Noel Smith has enlisted in the Gas & Flame Regiment and expects to be taken to France by Thanksgiving...Yours Faithfully, J. Darrington”


    Excellent condition.  Rare to find a World War I period letter mentioning the Gas & Flame Regiment and its association with France.

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