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smell of pear drops

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was it Mustard Gas or Chlorine Gas which smelt like Pear drops.....does anyone know?

And which of the two caused the greatest long term effects?

thanks Chums,

Ivan

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Pear drops generally implies acetone. Mustard Gas was more like an aerosol with drops of liquid. Apart from the immediate effects to the skin and lungs, it left a deposit which could burn hours and sometimes days later. Highland soldiers with lots of bare flesh exposed, were particularly at risk from mustard gas. Chlorine was used early in the war and was fairly easily protected against once the troops lost their dread of the new weapon. KSK is listed as smelling of pear drops. A tear gas.

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Cheers Tom, as accurate and helpful as ever!

Ivan

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Pear Drops - the destinctive smell was acitate "dope" - the varnish used on cloth skinned early planes, and paper covered model gliders.

I think the sweets actually had some of this in them! Can you still get them or have they fallen foul of EU regs ?

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' Trotter : I reckon they will. ...it was at the time when the Boche was sending over a lot of that gas that smells like pear-drops, you know?

Osborne : I know. Phosgene.

Trotter : That's it. We were scared to hell of it. All of a sudden we smelt that funny sweet smell, and a fellow shouted 'Gas!' - and we put on our masks; and then I spotted what it was.'

Journey's End, Act II, Scene 1

Chris Henschke

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Here is a powerful piece of writing by GS Hutchinson, quoted by John Giles in 'Flanders Then and Now'

'Thus was the portrait of the Passchendaele soldier. He lived unbelievably as it were upon the outer crust of a honeycomb, its honey putrid water. Each death pool was separated from its neighbour by a foot or two of muddy cone. To the sides of the greasy slithering edge, huddled above the stinking water, with bodies bowed beneath the crest, men lived out their days and nights, swept by shell and machine gun fire, soaked in gas. When stormed by phosgene, its sickly, pear-perfumed stench dulling the senses, almost all men ignored its delayed horrors. Then as maniacs, gripped by poison, they would hurry to the posts of battlefield civilisation, the Canteen and the Aid Post. There they would stagger, as the quickened blood diffused the phosgene poisons through the system; and sink down, a stick of chocolate or a cigarette between the lips, coughing, retching. Dying. Gassed.'

It was passages from Hutchinson and others like them that really sparked my interest in the Great War. He may be right or wrong about the pear smell. Why not put the point to Simon Jones, whose new Osprey book on gas has recently been published?

Jack

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One of my Uncles told me that my Grandfather who served through most of the war (including the Somme) before being invalided out suffering from a combination of gas and trench fever (it probably contributed to his relatively early death) refused to allow his kids to bring pear drops into the house because of the smell. They contained a particular ester related to acetone. A particular hardship for my uncle who was (and probably still is) somewhat adicted to them.

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' Trotter : I reckon they will. ...it was at the time when the Boche was sending over a lot of that gas that smells like pear-drops, you know?

Osborne : I know. Phosgene.

Trotter : That's it. We were scared to hell of it. All of a sudden we smelt that funny sweet smell, and a fellow shouted 'Gas!' - and we put on our masks; and then I spotted what it was.'

Journey's End, Act II, Scene 1

Chris Henschke

Classically, Phosgene was described as smelling like "new-mown hay"-- haven't heard it described as "pear drops". Doc2

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Thanks lads...Phosgene then? :unsure:

knew i could rely on the Pals!

Ivan.

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QUOTE(Chris Henschke @ May 17 2007, 07:15 AM)

' Trotter : I reckon they will. ...it was at the time when the Boche was sending over a lot of that gas that smells like pear-drops, you know?

Osborne : I know. Phosgene.

Trotter : That's it. We were scared to hell of it. All of a sudden we smelt that funny sweet smell, and a fellow shouted 'Gas!' - and we put on our masks; and then I spotted what it was.'

Journey's End, Act II, Scene 1

Chris Henschke

Classically, Phosgene was described as smelling like "new-mown hay"-- haven't heard it described as "pear drops". Doc2

Doc2 is correct and, although he served on the Western Front, R C Sherriff was wrong to make his characters describe phosgene as smelling of pear drops. The Germans used bromine compounds as tear producers and the most widely used was bromacetone which they called ‘B-Stoff’. This had the characteristic pear drops smell. Owing to the need for acetone for explosive manufacture and aeroplane dope, they also used Brommethylethyl Ketone (Bn-Stoff) from July 1915, which I think had a similar odour.

S

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naughty RC Sherriff!

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naughty RC Sherriff!

I meant incorrect rather than naughty :P but please don't think I would be foolish enough to claim superior knowledge of the Great War over someone who was there.

S

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