The use of gas by the Germans was a new and terrifying weapon of war.
Although chlorine gas was used at Ypres, it would be the oxygen-replacing phosgene
and the brutally caustic mustard gases that would be favoured as weapons later
in the war. Mustard gas was the most feared as it would cause large burns and
sores on exposed flesh that in the toxic swill of No Man's Land were death warrants.
At Ypres, perhaps even more clearly than in earlier battles, it was evident
that electric lines of communication were too fragile to be counted on to survive
enemy artillery. Even semaphore failed in the smokey gloom of the battlefield
and the last resort, brave runners, often didn't make it through successfully.
Arthur Currie was forced to ignore protocol, leaving his men at the front to
personally walk to the rear command to deliver a message about the need for reinforcement.
was becoming obvious that the traditional, hierarchical command and control the
British favoured was unravelling in the heat of an industrialized and mud-strewn
field of war. Canadians were also growing increasingly frustrated with the Ross
rifle which was manufactured to careful tolerances that couldn't deal with grit,
heat and British ammunition. Many soldiers threw their Ross rifles in the mud
and picked up British Lee-Enfields or even German guns, desperate to have a weapon
that was more than just a club after a few firings.