Back when I was in college, and in in Naval ROTC, one of the courses in naval gunnery was taught by the typical grizzled old Navy CPO lifer who had been a gunner’s mate. I still remember him always calling White Phosphorous (WP) shells “Willy Peter” I guess that was what the Navy called it. He told tales about shelling Pacific island beaches with WP during WWII. I don’t remember details, but they were not pretty.
Another WP story. Back in my high school days, I worked doing odd jobs for a guy who went all over the country buying stuff at government surplus auctions and re-selling it. He concentrated mainly on medical equipment One time, he bought cases and cases containing many thousands of white phosphorous first aid kits. The idea of these kits was to treat someone who had been hit by burning WP. The kits were in a small cardboard box, about the size of a 20-round .223 box, and contained three items: a small glass screw-top bottle of copper sulphate solution, a pair of tweezers, and a cotton ball. The idea was that if you have burning phosphorous on your skin, you opened the box, opened the bottle of solution, wet the cotton ball with the solution, covered the burning phosphorous with the wet cotton, and plucked it off with the tweezers. I know that because the instructions were printed on the box. I am not sure I would have the presence of mind to do all that while a chunk of burning phosphorous was going through my skin, but I guess someone must have thought it would work. I never did know why copper sulphate solution worked better than plain water, but maybe it was more effective as an extinguishing agent.
Anyway, my job was to open each box and remove only the tweezers, which were neatly packaged in cellophane (something else to do while you were screaming from the burning WP was tear off the tweezer wrapping). Everything else went into the dumpster. Tweezers were of very high-quality, not cheap stamped-out things, and he ended up selling them somewhere. I wish now I had kept a few of those kits.
That story should provide an idea of how WP was intended to be used, both incendiary and anti-personnel.