Imagine the terrible scenes of a gas attack in WWI. The choking smell, the burning of ammonia and bleach in your lungs and the burning on your skin. A global war was raging in Europe in a sprawling system of trenches. An explosion of canisters of poison gas happened in Austria and an unarmed messenger couldn’t get his gas mask on over his thick mustache.Another soldier ripped the gas mask away and disappeared into the dark yellow mist. The messengers weren’t considered important by the other men despite the fact there was little other ways to communicate. Finding another mask, he struggled to get it on and seal it because his thick mustache was preventing direct contact with the skin.
He inhaled a lot of the gas but was able to survive until the ‘’All Clear’’ came out. At once, the messenger shaved the sides of his mustache so he could get his gas mask on in case of future attacks. His name – Adolf Hitler.
Half a world away at the same time, 5000 American forces crossed Yuma Arizona in an effort to get Pancho Villa. But fighting a guerrilla force with conventional armies is a longshot. Time and time again, Villa raided and got away. One soldier sought to even the odds. He attached a machine gun to a car and made a charge. It was no match for Villa and the war was quickly over. That soldier, George Patton.
Because he had developed mobile and mechanized warfare, Patton was put in charge of a new device, The Tank. Off to France with a new and devoted attitude toward success, Patton the innovate is once again about to change history. The tank was not a good war device but whereas others so the failure, Patton so the potential. Still – It had been a failure thus far in WWI. It ran out of gas, got stuck in the mud, and was hard to move. Patton had to come up with a way to employ new things. The stakes are high.
Inventing tank column warfare, Patton took his forces from every angle. The Germans hit back with everything they had but the tanks just rolled right on through and began to break down the German line. While there in the midst of artillery shells and gunfire in France, he runs into a commander of the 42nd on September 12th, 1918 at St. Bonnel. The commander of the 42nd could hardly believe his luck. These new devices were shredding the enemy. The commander of the 42nd had been the son of a decorated Civil War soldier. His father was given the Congressional Medal of Honor. He often led his troops with a swagger straight forward into battle. In the midst of all of this killing going on, Patton and Douglas MacArthur would remain very close for years.
Hitler had a knack for escaping death. His sense of belonging began to take shape. The Germans use of gas had become so routine that the Allies used their own version of it. Called mustard gas because of the yellow blisters it would leave on your skin, this was perhaps the most vile weapon of the war. It lingered in the trenches once it settles and because it was virtually odorless, by the time you realized it was on you, it attacked the nervous system and you would most certainly die. Hitler survived multiple occasions of the powerful nerve gas.
As a sidenote, the boys back int he USA enlisted for the war. Major League Baseball understood its power to bring new recruits in and a force that had Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Carl Mays and others were training recruits on how to deal with a gas attack. They used the actual gas too. Well, at one point during the training, the gas was fired at them and they had just ten seconds to get their masks on. Christy Mathewson couldn’t get his to seal to his face.
‘’Ty, I got a large dose of the stuff’’ Mathewson said as he lay on the ground coughing. ‘’I did too,’’ Cobb said. Mathewson began to spit yellow secretion out of his mouth and his repertory system would never be the same. One of the most beloved players of all time, Christy Mathewson, would die of tuberculosis due to the mustard gas he inhaled just six years after.
Hitler meanwhile, had been let go, left to survive, by a British soldier named Henry Tate. He stood in front of Tate and the two stared one another down for several moments. In one of the truly great ‘’What-If’s’’ in all of history, the killing of Hitler by Henry Tate would have most certainly changed the course of history and ended the blind ambition of hatred.
In Britain, the son of prominent congressman and head of the British WWI Navy , wanted to break the stalemate. His plan was to go through Constantinople and bring over 100 warships in what would be the largest amphibious invasion the world has ever seen. Although it was unexpected, 56,000 allied troops were killed and 200,000 missing. It was a devastating failure and very nearly ended the career of Winston Churchill. The British dismissed Churchill for the utter failure at Gallipoli in the Straits of Constantinople. His come back was no less stunning.
Churchill decides to do the unthinkable. He enlisted in the Army and headed as a Private to the front lines. He went to the trenches to show his penance. As British casualties mounted, Churchill was promoted and began leading men into battle. He commanded a mere 800 men in his return to the battlefield and in Belgium (Yrpes) he faced a devastating poison gas attack. By 1917 nearly 7-million soldiers died. Chemical Warfare changed all of this.
Meanwhile, on a train from Germany to Russia was an enemy of Russia and ten million dollars to pay for a revolution. Nicoli Lenin is met be an old friend in Russia and the two plotted a rebellion from the inside-out. Using the ten million dollars that Germany gave them, they quietly bought arms and machinery needed to defeat the Russians from within. Many of the Russians wanted to end the war and end the monarchy and were thus sympathetic to anyone who could change the course of Russia. It was a brilliant move. Lenin’s old friend was a butcher in battle, storming the palace and ending the war for Russia, bringing the Germans one step closer to victory. Lenin’s old friend —— Josef Stalin.
As the Germans made their way to the Italian countryside, an Italian sharpshooter took out three German officers in 1916. The war turned him into a virulent killing machine and nationalist. His name was Benito Mussolini.
In America, Woodrow Wilson was being advised to mobilize for war. Ships with Americans aboard were getting killed. A young Assistant Secretary of the Navy met with Woodrow Wilson and advised him that an immediate mobilization of war be continued. On Feb 26, 1917, American resentment over Germany reached a boiling point. Great Britain intercepted a telegram from Germany’s Minister of Defense to the Mexican President. Known as the Zimmerman Telegram, Wilson read it aloud to the one person he was meeting with at the time it arrived – Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Wilson’s plan to keep America out of the war, completely backfired. In April of 1917, the Americans, with a standing army of just 100,000 men gets ready for a fight. (Germany by contrast, had 4-million men.)
And, in Fort Levenworth Kansas, a young desk clerk for the US Army finally receives a battlefield commission and was sent with Omar Bradley to the fort in Yuma Arizona to build up American defenses. His name, Dwight David Eisenhower.