The Admiral's Secret Weapon: Lord Dundonald and the Origins of Chemical Warfare
The 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775-1860) had as Lord Cochrane been a dashing and highly successful naval captain (he forms the model for Patrick O'Brian's fictional hero Jack Aubrey); he was also an inventor. In 1811 he presented details of his secret war plans to the Admiralty, who thought them likely to be highly effective, but uncivilised, and did not take them up; they remained secret. From time to time throughout the rest of his life Lord Dundonald lobbied again on behalf of his plans, without success. In 1914 the, supposedly, German butler of the then Lord Dundonald allegedly stole the secret documents and passed them to his government, to the subsequent consternation of the Dundonald family, who feared that German use of poison gas in 1915 was the result of this alleged theft. Just what were the secrets? And did the theft lead to the use of poison gas in 1915? Charles Stephenson, who has been bracketed amongst "the world's leading maritime historians", unravels the details of this interesting and intriguing story.
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