Chemical warfare

At a glance

  • The Chemical Warfare Service —later to be called the Chemical Corps. after World War II —was established in 1918 as the branch of the army responsible for responding to chemical attacks (1).  Chemical warfare was not used to the degree expected by the Army, however, and as such, many units of the service were tasked with duties other than those for which they trained.
  • Chemical_Branch_Insignia-webChemical Processing Companies were just one type of unit in the Chemical Warfare Service during World War II.  The purpose of the Processing Companies —according to the official military history —“was to keep available to theater chemical officers a supply of permeable protective clothing … impregnated with chlorinating compounds so as to protect the wearer from the effects of vesicant vapor” (2).

  • Many divisions of the Chemical Warfare Service, including the 130th Chemical Processing Company, trained at Camp Sibert, Ala.  A training reservation of more than 70 square miles, Camp Sibert was opened in mid-1943 for what the military’s history of the CWS called “one purpose only: to facilitate the training of chemical troops” (3).  The first picture below shows a processing company training to remove clothing from a predryer unit at Camp Sibert, anticipating that they would need to process clothing exposed to chemical compounds.  The other picture, directly below the first, shows troops training on an infiltration course at Camp Sibert.



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Source notes

Pictures:  The pictures at above are Signal Corps. photos reprinted in the official history of the Chemical Warfare Service, part I: Organizing for War.  The top picture is from page 322; the bottom picture is from page 273. The official history is a government document and is therefore in the public domain.

Citation 1: The Chemical Warfare Service, accessed 15 Aug. 2010, online at

Citation 2: Kleber, Brooks, and Dale Birdsell, The chemical warfare service: chemicals in combat (Washington, D.C.: United States Army, 1966), 304.

Citation 3: Brophy, Leo, and George Fisher, The chemical warfare service: organizing for war (Washington, D.C.: United States Army, 1959), 272.