The Admiral's Secret Weapon

Lord Dundonald and the Origins of Chemical Warfare

Charles Stephenson

The compelling story of Lord Dundonald's secret war plans, rejected by the Admiralty in 1811 as ungentlemanly, kept secret for almost a century, only to disappear in 1914. What were the secrets and did they lead to the German useof poison gas in 1915?
Date Published :
October 2006
Publisher :
Boydell and Brewer
Illustration :
16 b/w. 7 line.
No associated books available.


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.

About The Author

Charles Stephenson is an established author on naval and siege warfare and the history of fortifications, with the following books in print: The Fortifications of Malta 1530-1945, Zeppelins: German Airships 1900-40, The Channel Islands 1941-45: Hitler's Impregnable Fortress, The Admirals Secret Weapon: Lord Dundonald and the Origins of Chemical Warfare and Germanys Asia-Pacific Empire: Colonialism and Naval Policy, 1885-1914\. He was Consultant Editor and a contributor to Castles: A History of Fortified Structures: Ancient, Medieval & Modern. He is also the creator of the three books that (thus far) constitute the Samson Plews Collection.


Diabolical Engines of Warfare
The Stink Ships
"Lord Dundonald Thought Otherwise"
Laying Wood before Walls
Expelling the Russians from Sevastopol
Different Lines of Thought
A National Emergency
Secret No More