Jump to content


Remembered Today:

Photo

smell of pear drops


11 replies to this topic

#1 StaffsReg

StaffsReg

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 591 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Stoke on Trent. England
  • Interests:North Staffs.Regiment/K.O Royal Lancasters &amp;Royal Fusiliers<br />Anything about the Great War....<br />Real Ales!

Posted 13 May 2007 - 05:23 PM

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

#2 truthergw

truthergw

    Lieut-General

  • R.I.P.
  • 10,178 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 13 May 2007 - 05:37 PM

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.

#3 StaffsReg

StaffsReg

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 591 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Stoke on Trent. England
  • Interests:North Staffs.Regiment/K.O Royal Lancasters &amp;Royal Fusiliers<br />Anything about the Great War....<br />Real Ales!

Posted 13 May 2007 - 05:39 PM

Cheers Tom, as accurate and helpful as ever!
Ivan

#4 david murdoch

david murdoch

    Lieutenant

  • Old Sweats
  • 217 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 14 May 2007 - 12:01 AM

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 ?

#5 Chris Henschke

Chris Henschke

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,177 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Adelaide, South Australia
  • Interests:1. Changes in Battalion organization and training.
    2. The development of tactics, techniques and procedures through the Great War.
    3. The last 100 days.
    4. Uniforms/equipment of the AIF.

Posted 17 May 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

#6 Jack Sheldon

Jack Sheldon

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 2,689 posts

Posted 17 May 2007 - 08:13 AM

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

#7 centurion

centurion

    General

  • Old Sweats
  • 24,763 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:The Marches
  • Interests:Military history, science fiction

Posted 17 May 2007 - 11:49 AM

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.

#8 Doc2

Doc2

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,039 posts

Posted 17 May 2007 - 03:08 PM

QUOTE (Chris Henschke @ May 17 2007, 07:15 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
' 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

#9 StaffsReg

StaffsReg

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 591 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Stoke on Trent. England
  • Interests:North Staffs.Regiment/K.O Royal Lancasters &amp;Royal Fusiliers<br />Anything about the Great War....<br />Real Ales!

Posted 18 May 2007 - 06:58 AM

Thanks lads...Phosgene then? unsure.gif

knew i could rely on the Pals!

Ivan.

#10 Simon Jones

Simon Jones

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 1,754 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Windsor, UK
  • Interests:Tunnelling, gas warfare.

Posted 18 May 2007 - 08:43 AM

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
QUOTE (Doc2 @ May 17 2007, 04:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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

#11 Chris Henschke

Chris Henschke

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 1,177 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Adelaide, South Australia
  • Interests:1. Changes in Battalion organization and training.
    2. The development of tactics, techniques and procedures through the Great War.
    3. The last 100 days.
    4. Uniforms/equipment of the AIF.

Posted 18 May 2007 - 11:40 AM

naughty RC Sherriff!

#12 Simon Jones

Simon Jones

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 1,754 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Windsor, UK
  • Interests:Tunnelling, gas warfare.

Posted 18 May 2007 - 12:03 PM

QUOTE (Chris Henschke @ May 18 2007, 12:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
naughty RC Sherriff!

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