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Spirit of '42
Comments on Spirit of '42
Mar 15, 2003
Posted Aug 29, 2011 - 2:27 PM:
[Here's a published script from a 1942 issue of "Chemical Warfare Bulletin" (the official publication of the Chemical Warfare Service). It's the January 4, 1942 episode of "Spirit of '42," a nonfiction CBS series that began as "Spirit of '41" the previous summer and focused on U.S. defense preparations. This weekly Sunday afternoon series was on the air December 7 during the attack on Pearl Harbor and CBS broke the news right after the broadcast. Wyllis Cooper wrote the scripts and appeared as an on-air regular. In this particular program, he discusses types of gas which is kind of interesting since he himself was gassed during the First World War.]
Spirit of '42
Broadcast from Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, 2:00 to 2:30 PM - January 4, 1942.
Half Hour Radio Program on a National Hook-up of the Columbia Broadcasting
System and devoted to the Chemical Warfare Service.
MUSIC - ASSEMBLY - - - - TRUMPETS INTO DRUM-ROLL
ANNOUNCER - The Spirit of '42!
MUSIC - SEGUE TO STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER---FADE FOR
ANNOUNCER - The Columbia Broadcasting System brings you another program in
this series of first-hand stories of our Army and our Navy ... the Spirit of
'42! Today our broadcast comes to you direct from the great Edgewood Arsenal,
birthplace of the United States Chemical Warfare Service, with actual
demonstrations of gas and incendiary-bomb defense, and an important message
from Maj. Gen. William N. Porter, Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service!
MUSIC - END STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER
ANNOUNCER - The Training Battalion Band of the Chemical Warfare Service
salutes the nation with the March, Invercargill.
INVERCARGILL MARCH---FADE FOR
ANNOUNCER - Here is Brewster Morgan, producer of Columbia's Spirit of '42.
MORGAN - In these days when we are young in the war, the question of the use
of chemical agents ... gas, smoke, incendiary weapons ... occupies the minds
of many of us. We remember the lurid tales of the use of gas in World War I;
we have read about and have seen the pictures of incendiaries in the Battle of
Britain. And we wonder if America is attacked, will our enemies use incendiary
bombs? Will gas be used? And how are we prepared to defend ourselves against
these weapons that modern science has developed? In World War I, with the
experiences of the French and British to warn us, our Army formed the Chemical
Warfare Service. It served with great distinction in France - both as a
defensive and as an offensive organization. Then when peace came, the Chemical
Warfare Service was relegated slightly to the background - until the emergency
gripped us again. Today the Chemical Warfare Service, backed by the ablest
chemists of American industry, is working at top speed to restore our native
efficiency in this arm of the service ... both for defense at home and for
offensive action in the field. For example, here at Edgewood Arsenal our
present gas masks are manufactured under the supervision of the Chemical
Warfare Service and are perfect protection against gases of all kinds. Rush
Hughes is now at the gas mask factory here on the Arsenal Reservation, and he
is going to talk to you now about these masks as he watches them made. He is
going to show you how and why they are such excellent protection.
SWITCH TO RUSH HUGHES AT MASK FACTORY
HUGHES - This is Rush Hughes at the gas mask factory in the Plants area of
this great eight thousand acre tract that is the Edgewood Arsenal. Here ... in
the center of this busy action ... the sound of which you can hear on all
sides ... nearly two thousand people are working twenty-four hours of every
day ... seven days of every week, in the making of vitally important gas
masks. To understand what a gas mask is ... you must first understand what it
. It is
... definitely not ... an oxygen supply ...
contrary to anything you may have heard. The whole purpose of a gas mask is to
supply a device which will first keep any and all known war gases from getting
into the lungs through the nose and mouth and second ... to provide a means by
which all known gases may be first filtered and then rendered harmless, so
that nothing but good air gets into the system when breathing is continued
during a gas attack with the mask on. Now here are three of the most important
people in this gas mask factory to show you how these things are made.
Although there are nearly one hundred complete operations in the manufacture
of a mask ... the three main processes are the carrying case ... the canister
that contains the elements which filter out smokes and counteract the gases
and facepiece assembly. Each of these three operations are supervised here by
a floor foreman and here they are: Mrs. Naomi Carmen ... in charge of
Carriers; J. C. Dietz ... in charge of Canisters and Mrs. Pearl Lackey in
charge of Facepiece Assembly. Mrs. Carmen, will you please answer a few
questions about the making of the Carrier cases which I see all the men on
this post are toting their masks about in ... and, in fact, every one of the
workers here in the factory has a mask slung over the back of his or her chair
as they work. How are these canvas carriers made, Mrs. Carmen?
MRS. CARMEN - Well, Mr. Hughes, they're stamped in two pieces, sewn on
different types of sewing machines, made to go over the right shoulder, and
designed so the facepiece can be pulled out quickly and placed over the face.
HUGHES - Thank you and now ... here is Jack Dietz ... who supervises the
operation of gas mask canisters which contain the activated charcoal .. the
other chemicals and the smoke filters that are one hundred per cent effective
in counteracting war gases that might be used against us. Mr. Dietz, will you
tell us something about these canisters?
DIETZ - You have already covered the effectiveness of this canister we use,
Mr. Hughes... Probably the main reason for that is twofold. First, our
charcoal and chemicals .. and the way we pack them, together with the filter
we use, are so carefully tested ... time after time again.. that there is no
chance in the world of one of our masks failing. I think you saw all the
vacuum tests and the inspections we go through to guarantee one hundred
HUGHES - Thank you Jack Dietz and now Mrs. Lackey if you'll step over here I'd
like to run out some queries on the making of the all-important facepieces
that you stand guard over, or maybe you'd just like to start and outline the
MRS. LACKEY - Facepiece is molded rubber. One size fits ninety-five per cent
of users. Lens is molded plastic, fitted into grooved eyepieces and crimped
into place. Any corrections necessary are done by hand. Absolute tightness of
facepiece is guaranteed by a vacuum test.
HUGHES - Mrs. Lackey ... would you say this checking and rechecking was the
reason why the Chemical Warfare Service can say ... with modest pride ... that
the gas masks made here are absolutely perfect?
MRS. LACKEY - Yes, I would Mr. Hughes. We workers in the gas mask plant of the
Edgewood Arsenal are thoroughly alive to our responsibility and trust, and we
are determined to live up to it.
HUGHES - Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen you have heard from three
key workers an outline of the manufacture of gas masks here at the Edgewood
Arsenal. Now, in a few moments we are going to make some actual tests with
gases, but meanwhile here is Mr. Willis Cooper to tell you something about
COOPER - First, let me tell you how gases are classified. First, the lung
irritants, phosgene, diphosgene, and chlorpicrin which cause very serious
effects. The second classification is the vesicants, or blistering gases,
represented by mustard gas, lewisite, which cause serious burns. The third
group is called sternutators which cause sneezing and vomiting and make people
shed their masks if some of the gas should get inside. These are usually
diphenylchloride, ethyldichlorine, and diphenylchlorarsine. Let me go on now
to the fourth group ... tear gases ... The best known of which are
chloracetophenone, and brombenzylcyanide. And now let me make this one point,
which is tremendously important. Our present gas masks, as manufactured under
the supervision of the Chemical Warfare Service, are perfect - I mean perfect
- protection against all these gases, and against all others of their type.
Remember, our Chemical Warfare officers are not interested merely in
protecting you against our own gases, but against probable enemy gases; and
they know what gases the enemy, the Japs, the Germans, or the Italians are
able to use. Now Rush Hughes has stepped outside the gas mask factory here and
he's going to give you a demonstration in the use of the mask, as well as an
exercise on gas identification. All right Rush.
SWITCH TO RUSH HUGHES
HUGHES - O.K. I have it ... Thank you very much, and while Mr. Cooper has been
talking, M. Sgt. Joseph Leslie of Philadelphia, Pa., who is here with us has
gone over to the assembly line of the gas mask factory and taken off one of
the completed masks and now is standing out here beside me with it and is
going to give a demonstration of the actual way that a gas mask should be put
on. All right Sergeant Leslie.
SWITCH TO SERGEANT LESLIE
SGT. LESLIE - All right Mr. Hughes thank you. The gas mask, of course, must be
carried in the right position at all times. At the sound of the alarm, the
first thing you do is hold your breath. Then, with the right hand, remove and
dispose of the head covering. At the same time open the flap with the left
hand of the carrier. Insert the right hand and pull out the facepiece by
firmly grasping it at the diaphragm assembly. Bring it up about face high in
this manner, grasp it firmly with both hands and stick the chin well out.
Next, and this is a very important movement here, keep the head perfectly
still. By using the hands and arms only in a circular motion, bring the
facepiece up to the face, continuing by bringing the straps over and behind
the head. Check with both hands to see that it fits properly, and then the
next thing ...
HUGHES - He has it on now ladies and gentlemen. You may be able to hear him
talking through it. Go ahead Sergeant Leslie.
SGT. LESLIE - Then, the next step, you've got to clean out any gas that you
might have gotten out of the air. You grasp the outlet valve with the left
hand and blow out just as hard as you can.
(SOUND OF BLOWING)
HUGHES - O.K., there's the demonstration of how to put on a gas mask by
Sergeant Leslie, and now, we have five selectees out here. We're going to have
a demonstration of them sniffing some of these known war gases and getting
better acquainted with the medium in which they're going to work. Here's Pvt.
John P. O'Brien of Richmond Hill, Long Island. Will you sniff that bottle
please? What do you smell?
PVT. O'BRIEN - It smells like horse-radish.
HUGHES - Well, what kind of gas is it?
PVT. O'BRIEN - Mustard Gas.
HUGHES - Now here's Pvt. Robert C. Riddlemoser of Mount Airy, Md. Will you
sniff that please? What does it smell like?
PVT. RIDDLEMOSER - It smells like some kind of candy, licorice, I think it is.
HUGHES - Licorice? And what kind of a gas is it?
PVT. RIDDLEMOSER - Chlorpicrin.
HUGHES - Thank you very much and now, one more. Pvt. Kenneth E. Kitchen of
Green Bay, Wis. That's got me in the eyes, too. What do you smell there, sir?
PVT. KITCHEN - It smells like flowers to me, sir.
HUGHES - And what kind of a gas is it?
PVT. KITCHEN - That's Lewisite, sir.
HUGHES - Now, we have Pvt. Leonard P. Gibbs of Norfolk, Va. What do you smell?
PVT. GIBBS - That smells like new mown hay or green corn.
HUGHES - And what kind of gas is it?
PVT. GIBBS - Phosgene.
HUGHES - Phosgene gas and one more demonstration. Pvt. Leonard W. Buck of
PVT. BUCK - It smells like an apple blossom or something similar.
HUGHES - And what kind of gas is that?
PVT. BUCK - It's a tear gas, CN.
HUGHES - Thank you very much. There's the demonstration of the sniffing test
by five selectees here outside the gas mask factory and now we switch you back
to Brewster Morgan at Conaty Hall.
SWITCH TO CONATY HALL
MORGAN - You have heard about gases and gas masks; things which, in modern
warfare, concern the civilian as well as the fighting man in the field. We
take you now to Washington, D.C., where the Chief of the Chemical Warfare
Service, Maj. Gen. William N. Porter is waiting to bring you an official
message of the greatest importance. General Porter, Chief of the Chemical
Warfare Service, from Washington.
MAJ. GEN. PORTER - We of the Chemical Warfare Service are very proud of
Edgewood Arsenal. I am delighted that you are having this opportunity to hear
of some of the work which goes on there. I am glad too, to have this chance to
talk to you because I should like, if I can, to allay some of the fears which
have been expressed to me by telephone, telegraph, and mail, concerning the
possibilities of gas attacks along the coasts and the effects to be expected
should such attacks be made. In the first place, under conditions as they
exist at present or as are probable within a reasonable time, I do
expect that gas will be used by our enemies anywhere in the Continental United
States. Should enemy airplanes, by some difficult and devious method, be flown
over our coasts, it is to be expected that, since their loads are necessarily
limited, high explosive bombs will be the weapons they will carry. This is for
the reason that if enemy carriers are to be risked for raiding attacks it will
be for the primary purpose of destroying military objectives, and for this
purpose high explosive bombs are far more efficient than gas. Furthermore, no
small number of planes, even if fully loaded with gas bombs, could carry
enough to be of any great importance; and protection against any such token
gassing is rather easily provided for our citizens if they understand a few
simple facts. The Office of Civilian Defense is in the process of providing
gas masks for those citizens who live within raiding distance of our coasts.
Even without masks, a carefully closed room on the first or second floor of
the average dwelling would be proof against small amounts of gas released in
the neighborhood unless there was a lighted fire or chimney which produced a
draft in the room and dragged the gas into it. Moreover, civilians could, and
would, rapidly evacuate an area which had been contaminated with mustard gas.
In collaboration with the Office of Civilian Defense, we have, for the past
six months been conducting special courses at the Chemical Warfare School at
Edgewood Arsenal, for the instruction of selected groups of firemen,
policemen, and other civic leaders in the methods and technique of protecting
the public against air raids. More than 500 selected men from coast to coast
have completed this course since the first of July. Immediately after the
outbreak of this war, similar schools were established in larger cities of
Calif., Ore., and Wash. The graduates of these schools understand thoroughly
how to protect civilians in their communities from the possible effects of any
token gas raids as well as from the results of an attack, which is much more
likely to happen in which incendiaries are used. Gas is an effective weapon in
the field. Soldiers in battle or crowded into bivouacs have great difficulties
in protecting themselves against it; but where tightly closed rooms exist and
soap, hot water, and kerosene are easily available for washing, as they are in
cities, there is no reason why the average householder should fear it in any
quantities which are likely to be put down at this stage in this war. Breathe
ANNOUNCER - We now return you to Edgewood Arsenal.
SWITCH TO ARSENAL
MORGAN - Here at Conaty Hall at the Arsenal, the Training Battalion Band plays
for the first time on the air a new Chemical Warfare Service Marching Song,
written by a member of the band, Pvt. Paul McKenzie, and sung for us today by
Pvt. Bob Rice.
BAND - CHEMICAL WARFARE MARCHING SONG
ANNOUNCER - And now Willis Cooper.
COOPER - Perhaps we have given you the idea that most of the operations here
at Edgewood are manufacturing and procurement. That's not exactly the case,
since this is the Chemical Warfare Training and Replacement Center. So I've
asked Capt. Kenneth A. Cunin, Post Intelligence Officer, to tell us something
about the training of Chemical Warfare Troops. Captain Cunin.
CUNIN - The men who come here get four weeks of basic soldier training exactly
the same as soldiers of the other arms; and then come four weeks of
specialized training in aviation, laboratory, depot, and maintenance services,
as well as the very important training for combat units.
COOPER - What about these combat units, Captain Cunin?
CUNIN - They are the chemical mortar companies, part of the combat battalions,
which are presently activated. When the eight weeks training is finished, the
men are sent wherever the War Department needs them. This might be to any one
of the many army posts throughout the service.
COOPER - Then the Chemical Warfare Troops are combat troops, Captain?
CUNIN - Yes, they are, and in addition, they are trained in the handling of
all chemical warfare equipment, weapons and materiel much of it highly
specialized technical training.
COOPER - Thank you very much Captain Cunin and now Rush Hughes is ready to
present a demonstration of incendiary bombs at one of the demonstration areas
here on the post. All right Rush, take it please.
SWITCH TO RUSH HUGHES AT DEMONSTRATION AREA
HUGHES - All right, this is Rush Hughes, and here at one of the demonstration
areas at Edgewood Arsenal, we present a picture that deserves the full
attention of every listener in America. From the original headquarters of the
Chemical Warfare Service in the United States we bring you the latest and most
authentic word on incendiary bombs, what they are, and what to do about them.
Here is Maj. William E. Caldwell, acting director, Department of Incendiaries
of the Chemical Warfare School at Edgewood Arsenal. Major Caldwell, what is an
MAJ. CALDWELL - An incendiary bomb as used by the Germans is a contraption
that weighs a little more than two pounds. It is 2 inches in diameter and 14
inches long. When many are dropped, and a single plane can easily carry 500 of
them, they have the power to quickly set cities on fire. A German incendiary,
if undisturbed, will burn for about 15 minutes at about 3,000 degrees
Fahrenheit. It will fire burnable material it contacts, a house, a fuel
storage tank, a wheat field; anything inflammable.
HUGHES - Well, that makes the care of these little property wreckers --- a
very important matter. Tell me sir, how do you control an incendiary?
MAJ. CALDWELL - There are three ways to do that. Two of them are right, one of
them is wrong. I have an incendiary here which I will now touch off. If you
take your microphone down close to it you may be able to hear it hiss.
TOUCH OFF INCENDIARY
HUGHES - All right sir, lets you and I walk out here to these incendiaries.
Here, there are one, two, three, four of them on top of boxes and one of them
here is beginning to sputter considerably. I don't know how close I can get
down to it; It doesn't make very much noise but I'm going to get as close as I
can. Is it all right for me to go in close Major Caldwell?
MAJ. CALDWELL - Yes, only one magnesium incendiary in 12 have high explosives
in them. This one is meant only to burn and you can go as close as the heat
and the sputtering will allow. Do you hear it better now?
HUGHES - Well, let's see how close I can get; it's a pretty hard proposition.
I understand they burn at about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit but I'm right down
now and I think my microphone is within 6 inches of the top of that burning
one. Tell me, what do you do to keep these things under control, Major
MAJ. CALDWELL - Dry sand poured over the bomb and then the burning material
rolled over on sand keeps it from burning through the floor and partly
smothers the burning metal. And you may even want to scoop the whole business
with an iron shovel and drop it into a bucket of sand.
HUGHES - Yes, sir, then what do you do, throw it out the window?
MAJ. CALDWELL - No, there might be somebody passing by and they wouldn't
welcome such a hot reception but you can carry it out in the back yard and let
it sputter out in lonely splendor.
HUGHES - Well, now suppose you are just fresh out of sand, Major, and one of
these things comes calling on your attic - then what do you do?
MAJ. CALDWELL - Then you give it the water treatment, but here you have to
watch your step. I'll start another bomb going and show you how to handle it.
There, now you take a garden hose or a small water hand pump and pump with a
spray nozzle on the hose and you gently spray the visitor from nose to finn.
HUGHES - Let's get in close and hear this, if we can.
MAJ. CALDWELL - At the same time that you are spraying water on the burning
bomb you are wetting down the boards all around it. The water makes the bomb
burn up more rapidly, and at the same time curbs the fire around about it.
HUGHES - All right, I'm going to bring the microphone down once more. Keep
that spray going on there will you? I'll bring it down once more and let you
hear exactly what happens when a spray is put on one of these magnesium bombs.
MAJ. CALDWELL - Now put a little bit of water with this stream on that bomb
and we'll have a little greater sputtering. Will you get down a little closer,
sir, and we'll see.
HUGHES - All right, here we go, put her on.
THE HISSING SOUND
HUGHES - I can't get quite as close under that sort of a treatment, sir.
MAJ. CALDWELL - All right, maybe we ought to do what the housewife attempts to
do erroneously upon a bomb. There's a bucket of water. Suppose you try
throwing this bucket of water upon the bomb, and let's notice the noise.
HUGHES - All right, give it to me. Throw it! Come on! Here we go ... I see
what you mean. That isn't what you should do, is it Major?
MAJ. CALDWELL - You should not do that.
HUGHES - You shouldn't throw a stream of water on one of these incendiary
bombs. Now, one thing more, please. Are the Japs using these two-pound
incendiaries that can be carried 500 or more to a plane?
MAJ. CALDWELL - As far as we know the Japs are not using magnesium
incendiaries. The Jap incendiaries have all been 32-pound thermit bombs up to
now. Of course, not so many of these 32 -pound bombs can be carried by each
plane but those that do land will start larger fires. Since the bomb action is
so rapid in the formation of white hot liquid iron, there is no fighting of
the bomb, but fighting of the fire that is caused by them.
HUGHES - Major Caldwell, what advice would you give these people on the
subject of preparation against a possible air attack in which incendiaries are
MAJ. CALDWELL - Mr. Hughes, I would say this to those people. The Nation needs
fire fighters, volunteer and auxiliary. We have the organizations already, but
there are not enough people who have taken the time and trouble to find out
what to do if an incendiary lands on their own roof. I advise all these people
to find out how to combat this possibility now. There won't be time to run for
instructions after an air raid begins.
HUGHES - That's very true, Major Caldwell, but, please tell me exactly what I
should do in my own home right now to prepare against any such attack.
MAJ. CALDWELL - You should have at least one bucket of sand on every floor of
the house, - especially in the attic. If you run out of sand and have to use
water, then be sure that you only use spray on the bomb. Never douse it.
HUGHES - Yes, sir. I found that out. Dousing an incendiary with a stream of
water is just about as safe as throwing a bunch of fire crackers into a hot
stove. Thank you, Major Caldwell for your expert information on the handling
of incendiary bombs, and now back to Conaty Hall.
SWITCH TO CONATY HALL
MORGAN - This is Brewster Morgan. Now let us hear a word from Brigadier
General Avery, commanding officer of Edgewood Arsenal and head of the Chemical
Warfare Training Center and School. General Avery is in direct command of
these men you've heard today here, and his message is interesting to us all.
Here is General Avery.
GEN. AVERY - The Spirit of '42 has brought to you today a highlighted radio
picture of this, the first arsenal of the Chemical Warfare Service. In
addition to the features which have marked the program, we have many other
industrial and troop installations, including the important Chemical Warfare
School and the Chemical Warfare Service Replacement Training Center. Through
the Chemical Warfare School each month pass hundreds of military and civilian
students who are especially trained to defend all of us against chemical
agents and incendiaries. The replacement training center is made up of troops
hailing from all parts of the country. Here soldiers are carefully schooled in
the latest and most modern techniques of chemical warfare so that they may
take their places in our field armies. Through every arsenal function both
civilian and military there is a high enthusiasm for every activity that lends
itself to ultimate victory. The men in the replacement center, the Second
Separate Chemical Battalion, and other military units of this station, have an
exceptional esprit de corps. Your sons entrusted to us for training are
measuring up as soldiers in every sense of the word. You are proud of them as
sons and we at Edgewood Arsenal are just as proud of them as soldiers.
BAND - "STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER". Hold Background.
ANNOUNCER - Today Columbia's Spirit of '42 brought you a program direct from
the Edgewood Arsenal, birthplace of the American Armies Chemical Warfare
Service and present home of the Chemical Warfare School Training and
Replacement Center. The Spirit of '42 is one of Columbia's programs devoted to
the furthering of America's war effort and produced for Columbia by Brewster
Morgan. Willis Cooper writes the Spirit of '42 - Guy della Cioppa directs, in
the field. Music today was by the Training Battalion Band of the Chemical
Warfare Service, under the direction of Tech. Sgt. Wayne Lovejoy. Joe King
speaking, this is the Columbia Broadcasting System.
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