Of all the war work by the Bureau of Mines ultimately covered such a variety of processes and equipment, employed as many men, or called for as large an outlay as that started in connection with the solution of problems relating to the use of noxious gases in warfare. Beginning with an investigation to develop the best type of gas mask, the scope of the work extended until it included researches relating to a wide range of devices, such as different types of poisonous and irritating gases and smokes, smoke screens, gas shells and gas bombs, flame throwers, trench projectors for firing gas bombs, signal lights, and incendiary bombs. The Bureau of Mines in starting this work selected the necessary personnel, procured the early equipment, and for some months, from the beginning to June 30, 1917, paid the cost of the work from its own funds.
The Bureau of Mines built up a research staff of more than 700 chemists, including many of the most prominent chemists in the country, and obtained the cooperation of many of the universities and chemical companies. When the results obtained through tins research were to be applied by the War Department, the Director of the Bureau of Mines cooperated in the selection of men to have charge of manufacture or further development, recommending chemists who subsequently received commissions in the Army. The personal cooperation with the War Department was thus very close.
The bureau can fairly claim that because it started this work on gas warfare and received the hearty support of the Department of War, the Navy Department, the National Research Council, and State, educational, and private institutions, the country was in July, 1918, months ahead of where it would otherwise have been in the production of gas masks and other devices. The production of toxic gases then far exceeded the supply of shells. In addition the later work in gas-mask manufacture by the Surgeon General's Office of the Army, which resulted in the development of the best mask produced anywhere; in gas manufacture and gas proving-ground tests by the Bureau of Ordnance, and in the chemical warfare program of the Navy, including the use of smoke screens, shells and toxic gases, were the direct results of the bureau's experimental work.
The American charcoal and soda lime, developed through the research work, are the best used by any nation.
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