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Tradition, innovation, and the pursuit of the decisive battle: poison gas and the British army on the western front, 1915-1918
Palazzo, Albert P.

1996, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, History.

The image that World War I evokes for most people is that of strategic and operational stagnation in which thousands were slaughtered in mindless assaults orchestrated by a stubborn, stupid, and distant leadership. This charge has in particular been leveled against the command of the British Army and, while enduring, it is a myth. The headquarters, trenches, laboratories and factories of Britain seethed with activity as the British applied scientific and technological advances to solve the problems of the Western Front. The central obstacle was the lack of the preconditions necessary to achieve a decisive victory. The British believed that victory required an asymmetric advantage over the enemy in a few key areas. In their struggle against Germany they chose to seek superiority principally in morale and maneuver.


This work will employ gas as a means to study the British effort to achieve mobility and superiority in morale. It will show that the British embraced gas and incorporated it thoroughly into their method of waging war. It will also offer a unique perspective on how military institutions operate within a rapidly changing technological environment and how they identify and resolve problems that impede their ability to achieve victory. Chemical warfare is a particularly effective mechanism to achieve these goals because it was an innovation that had not been anticipated by the combatants, its nature differed greatly from all previous types of weapons, and its use was widespread. It therefore had a tremendous intellectual impact upon the attitudes of the officer corps as it forced them to reevaluate their conceptions of war in order to employ gas effectively.

Allan R. Millett (Advisor)
535 p.

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Palazzo, A. (1996). Tradition, innovation, and the pursuit of the decisive battle: poison gas and the British army on the western front, 1915-1918. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Palazzo, Albert. "Tradition, innovation, and the pursuit of the decisive battle: poison gas and the British army on the western front, 1915-1918." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 1996. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 19 Nov 2018.

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Palazzo, Albert "Tradition, innovation, and the pursuit of the decisive battle: poison gas and the British army on the western front, 1915-1918." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 1996. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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