100 years ago…


While completing the iconography for the upcoming exhibition regarding the Warsaw-Vienna Railway history, our colleague Paweł Mierosławski has found a very interesting photo.

The picture was taken exactly 100 years ago – on 28th April 1915 – in front of still undamaged side of the Warsaw-Vienna Railawy wagon works in Skierniewice (part of this site was blown up in 1914 from the east side). In front of the building, the troops from 49th Reserve Battalion are unloading from the train the requisitioned living stock. A typical sight somewhere behind the front line.

Yet, the typical supply trains were not the only guests at stations in Skierniewice and Łowicz. Transports full of special gas munition arrived soon from Germany (this ordnance was utilized in January and February 1915 at the front line near Bolimów, Humin and Mogiły). Several days after this photo was taken, the 36th Engineering Regiment reached Skierniewice, togeteher with a payload of 12 thousand cylinders containing 264 tonnes of compressed chlorine. Cylinders were placed on the stabilized sections of the front line, between Tartak Bolimowski and Białynin.

The gas attack took place in the early morning, 31st May 1915. According to different sources, between 9 and 11 thousand Russian soldiers and unknown number of civilians succumbed to the gas. The choking stench of chlorine was spread for tens of kilometers by a westward wind.

The nearby towns, especially Żyrardów, turned into hell. There was no help for the gas victims.

Subsequent attacks took place on 12th June and at night, from 6th to 7th July 1915. The June’s attack results were so shocking for the Prussian troops, that they attempted to rescue the victims from the opposing army.

Those, who would like to learn more about those attacks that surpassed the use of chemical weapons in the battle of Ypres, can read more in the article by Paweł Rożdżestwieński “The Battle of Rawka and Bzura” (Polish only).

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