Chemical Weapons Timeline

 

 

       1924    1930    1931    1936    1937    1938    1939    1940    1941    1942    1943    1944    1945  

       1946    2009

 

 

 

1924

 

Chemical Warfare Board formed (apparently by the Department of Defence) which was constituted as an advisory body

 

1930

 

22 January 1930 Australia ratifies the Geneva Protocol (1925) which banned the use of poisonous or other gases.

 

1931

 

3 July 1931 Chemical Warfare Board  reconstituted as the Chemical Defence Board

 

1936

 

In 1936 an approach was made to the Department of the Army with a view to securing a chemical weapons appointment under the Militia scheme, but without success.

 

1937

 

August 1937 The Controller-General of Munitions, Department of Defence concluded Australia should devote time and money to the study and development of a chemical arm as “gas was a decisive weapon and its use would be resorted to in warfare whenever and wherever feasible”.

1938
 

October 1938  Military Board approaches Munitions Supply Board on the possibility of manufacturing war gases locally

 

1939

 

 

April 1939  Military Board argue it is essential that Australia develop a capacity to use gas defensively

26 June 1939  Minister of Defence gives approval for investigations into the production of mustard gas

22 August 1939  First written consideration for the importation of war gases

 

1940 

 

12 November 1940  War Cabinet agree Australia should be self sufficient in gas supply

 

1941

 

May 1941 Chemical Adviser appointed to the Army

15 May 1941 3rd chemical field laboratory company (United States) is formed at Edgewood, United States (later renamed the 42nd chemical laboratory)

July 1941 The Army Gas School is raised in Bonegilla, Victoria

7 December 1941 The 3rd chemical field laboratory company, aboard a Pacific convoy carrying units to the Philippines, is ordered by the War Department to divert to Australia

22 December 1941 3rd chemical field laboratory company docks at Brisbane

 

1942 

 

6 January 1942  The Air Board approve the take over of the disused 660 metre railway tunnel at Glenbrook, New South Wales by the Royal Australian Air Force for the storage of bombs

16 February 1942 The Defence Committee conclude enquires should be immediately made to the United Kingdom and United States to ascertain if mustard gas in containers suitable for the Army and Air Force could be supplied

March 1942  Kane Ammunition Depot (Geelong, United States) is established

March 1942 Five nucleus Chemical Warfare Companies, Royal Australian Engineers are raised

March 1942 Request made for a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to be fitted with the necessary devices for carrying out training in chemical warfare

10 March 1942  Department of Defence cables the High Commissioner in London as to whether war gases can be supplied

24 March 1942  Response to Australia’s request from the United Kingdom that “immediate action was being taken to supply Australia's chemical weapons needs”

April 1942 The Chemical Adviser to the Army proposed the establishment of a chemical weapons Experimental Research Station in tropical Queensland or other suitable locality

April 1942 The Chemical Defence Board with the help of a group of service medical officers form the physiological subcommittee

1 April 1942  No. 1 Central Reserve (Royal Australian Air Force) was formed at Marrangaroo

15 April 1942 Shipment of 870 tons of chemical weapons for United States forces initiated from San Francisco

30 April 1942 The Royal Australian Air Force inspected the disused Marangaroo tunnel and Air Board approval was sought for its acquisition for storage purposes

May 1942  The first United States chemical weapons stock to arrive is reported

5 May 1942 A directive issued by South West Pacific Area HeadQuarters referred to full necessary action for defensive measures against gas and provision for the offensive use as a retaliatory measure

26 May 1942  First known arrival of United Kingdom manufactured chemical weapons stocks on the ship “Heuraki

19 June 1942 Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Glenhartney

24 June 1942  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Lossiebank

29 June 1942 Contractors commenced on No. 3 sub depot, Marangaroo tunnel

July 1942 Moves made to establish a chemical warfare school for all American forces in Australia

July 1942 The Bonegilla gas school is reformed as Land HeadQuarters Gas School

7 July 1942 The Air Board approve the takeover of the disused railway tunnel at Picton, New South Wales for the storage of conventional bombs

25 July 1942 British chemical weapons Liaison Mission visit Australia

August 1942  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Nigerstrrom

August 1942 British chemical weapons cadre arrive to train selected personnel in the offensive use of the 5 inch sextuple rocket and the 4.2 inch mortar

9 August 1942 Arrangements for the first intake of chemicals at Glenbrook were advised with material being received from the Nigerstrrom

14 August 1942 The Picton tunnel (Royal Australian Air Force) was taken over and an Officer in charge was appointed

11 August 1942 The first Army stocks arrive at 1 Base Ammunition Depot Albury from Williamstown

September 1942 The British chemical weapons Liaison mission advise against the establishment of the Australian Field Experimental Station

19 October 1942 Orders for 25.5 pounds and 27 pounds of locally manufactured mustard were delivered to the Gas School, Randwick

12 October, 1942 A chemical weapons section, M07, is formed within the Directorate of Military Operations (Army)

November 1942 Chemical Warfare courses for Armament Officers, Explosives Inspecting Officers and Equipment Officers were commenced at the Armament School, Hamilton

14 November 1942 The Combined Chiefs of Staff approved that “Gas warfare will be undertaken by both the United States and British Commonwealth Forces on the decision of a representative especially designated for that purpose by its highest governmental authority (eg: General MacArthur)”

16 November 1942 Townsville 25 pounder trials commence. 662 chemical rounds fired

4 December 1942 The Air Board approved the "suitability" of the Picton Tunnel for the storage of chemical weapons munitions

5 December 1942 The Defence Committee agreed to the establishment of the Experiental and Research Committee of the Chemical Defence Board with the functions of directing and coordinating chemical warfare trials and research in Australia

 

1943 

 

8 January 1943  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Idomeneus

11 January 1943 Start of 25 pounder trials at Singleton where 138 rounds B4 (tear gas) and 342 Y4 (mustard) were fired

20 January 1943 A direction from General Headquarters was given to the Chief Chemical Officer, United States Army Service Of Supply (South West Pacific Area) that he prepare a Chemical Warfare Plan for the South West Pacific Area theatre

26 January 1943  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Taranaki

February 1943 Virtually all of the chemical weapons items which had been ordered in February 1942 from the UK had arrived in Australia

February 1943 Training in the offensive employment of chemicals is described as “entirely theoretical” and additional training was deemed necessary

February 1943 2/1 Australian Mobile Anti Gas Laboratory renamed 2/1 Australian Chemical Warfare Laboratory

February 1943 Training in offensive chemical warfare is included in the syllabus of all noncommissioned Royal Australian Air Force armament personnel

2 February 1943  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Birchbank

3 February 1943 Conference held with representatives of both the Australian and American services to discuss proposed chemical weapons plan

21 February 1943 Start of Forbes 25 pounder trials where 276 Y4 (mustard) and 53 B4 (tear gas) rounds were fired
21 February 1943 In a letter to the Australian Prime Minister dated, Macarthur concurred that a decision for gas warfare would not be taken independently, but only when agreement had been reached between the Prime Minister and himself

25 February 1943 Land HeadQuarters Gas School (Army), Bonegilla, Victoria commences training with “live” gas materials

20 March 1943 The Chemical Warfare Plan (South West Pacific Area) is first issued

21 March 1943  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Empire Strength”

April 1943 1 Australian Chemical Warfare Company is disbanded and reformed as 101 Infantry Brigade Support Company

10 April 1943 Start of Grafton 25 pounder trials where 1155 chemical rounds were fired

June 1943 105th Chemical Processing Company (United States) arrives in Australia

5 July 1943 The Defence Committee approve in principle the proposal to establish a small chemical weapons Experimental Field Station in Australia

13 July 1943 It was agreed that all chemical ammunition (loading and unloading) was to be handled by trained service personnel and that any other non chemical cargo that was stored with the chemical would also to be handled by these personnel

31 July 1943 A decision was made by the Royal Australian Air Force to store 40% of the chemical weapons stocks in a North Eastern Area site (a site in Queensland). Talmoi was subsequently used

3 August 1943 The site at 88 mile (Northern Territory) was inspected and approved on the North South Road after having been originally selected from aerial photographs

11 August 1943 Start of 25 pounder trials at Humpty Doo

September 1943 Land HeadQuarters Gas School, located at Bonegilla, Victoria and First Australian Army Gas School, located at Cabarlah, Queensland are amalgamated

September 1943 The Defence Committee approve the establishment of a permanent field chemical weapons experimental station at Proserpine, Queensland

27 September 1943 Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Idomeneus

October 1943  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Trojan Star”

30 October 1943 No. 19 Replenishing Centre (Royal Australian Air Force) was formed at Marangaroo

20 November 1943  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Glenapp

12 December 1943 The Royal Australian Air Force Armament School moved from Hamilton to Nhill and the Chemical Warfare School was established as a section of the Armament School

17 December 1943  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Menelaus”

 

1944 

 

9 January 1944 Bowen inspected in anticipation of its use by the Special Duties Flight Detachment of No. 1 Aircraft Performance Unit (Royal Australian Air Force)

10 January 1944  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Empire Glade”

28 January 1944 Work preparatory for  the storage of chemical weapons stocks in the Clarence Tunnel begins

February 1944  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Nigerstrrom

7 February 1944 The transfer of chemical weapons stocks from No. 2  Sub Depot, Glenbrook to Clarence Tunnel begins

15 February 1944 The transfer of chemical weapons stocks to Clarence completed

18 February 1944 The United States War department approached the Royal Australian Air Force on whether it should obtain its requirements of gas weapons and chemicals from American sources

6 March 1944 The advanced party of No. 19 Replenishing Centre moved from sub depot No. 4 Clarence to its new location at Talmoi and by 13 March 1944 the unit had occupied the new site.

23 March 1944 Start of movement of stocks to 88 mile

April 1944  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Ajax

2 April 1944 First movement of chemical weapons stocks to 88 mile completed

17 April 1944 The transfer of stocks to No. 19 Replenishing Centre commenced.

1 May 1944 chemical weapons Plan states “The Royal Australian Air Force is capable of full scale chemical weapons operating from Australian bases”

4 May 1944 A meeting was held with representatives from the United States Army Services of Supply and the Royal Australian Air Force to discuss a coordinated Anglo/American chemical warfare procurement and supply program.

15 August 1944 Chemical Research Unit due to be formed on this date

21 August 1944 Meeting held by Royal Australian Air Force as to whether further supplies of chemical weapons should come from the United States

October 1944 Chemical Warfare conference held at Oro Bay, Papua New Guinea

3 October 1944 Start of 25 pounder trials at Marakai Road (near Darwin)

25 September 1944 The Australian Chemical Warfare Research and Experimental Section is disbanded and reorganised as 1 Australian Field Experimental Station

13 November 1944 The Australian Army stated “No further deliveries of chemical ammunition were to be accepted and all outstanding orders were to be cancelled. Only the types effective in South West Pacific Area and ballistically acceptable were to be retained”

17 December 1944 Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship 1944 “Ajax

 

1945

 

19 January 1945 In a War Cabinet Agendum the Acting Minister of Air sought approval for the purchase of chemical warfare weapons of United States design

February 1945 The possibility of hostile use of gas had receded to a degree permitting of discontinuance of gas training throughout the Army

May 1945 An order was placed in Washington for United States weapons

May 1945 At the Air Armament and Gas School, Nhill, Airfield Defence Instructors Antigas Courses cease

3 October 1945 Royal Australian Air Force advise that mustard gas ammunition would still be most likely destroyed by sea dumping but that burning trials were being carried out

27 October 1945  Arrival of chemical weapons stocks on ship “Fremantle”

18 October 1945 Start of burning trial at the Australian Field Experimental Station, Proserpine

September 1945 At the Air Armament and Gas School, Nhill, courses cease for Fitter Armourers courses

20 November 1945 Burning of chemical warfare stocks at 1 Base Ammunition Depot, Albury commences

12 December 1945 Burning disposal of chemical warfare stocks at No. 19 Replenishing Centre commences

13 December 1945 The Army forwarded a submission by the Chief of General Staff seeking endorsement by the Defence Committee that all chemical ammunition held by should be disposed of

24 November 1945 Completed burning of chemical mines at 1 Base Ammunition Depot, Albury

24 December 1945 The Chemical Research Unit is disbanded

 

1946 

 

8 February 1946 The destruction and disposal of 2,000 tons of gas bombs (mustard and phosgene) was completed at Fenton Airfield

14 February 1946 Disposal of No. 1 Central Reserve chemical warfare stocks by burning commences at Newnes State Forest

19 February 1946 “All personnel from No. 19 Replenishing Centre posted and disbandment of the unit is complete”.

27 February 1946 The Defence Committee agree that all chemical ammunition held by the Army should be disposed of

14 March 1946 Disposal of No. 1 Central Reserve chemical warfare stocks by burning completed

 

 

2009

 

 

267 250-lb buried chemical bombs extracted from Marrangaroo Army Base (formerly No. 1 Central Reserve)