Gas Detection Brassards

Regular readers will know I get a lot of good finds from Huddersfield Second Hand market. This week I found what might qualify as the find of the year so far. A pair of gas detection brassards for 50p each. These are not in the best condition, but as original examples are incredibly hard to find (and thus expensive) I was very pleased to find them at this price! The brassards are made of a chemically impregnated heavy duty paper, one is in dark brown and one in tan:imageIn the presence of blister gas the idea was that the chemical would turn the brassard red and it would then be noticeable to the troops who could then don protective clothing as required. The brassards were put over the arm and a webbing tape at the top was passed through the epaulette of the uniform to secure it:imageThe 1942 Gas training book indicated that one brassard should be worn on each shoulder by ordinary troops, and on one shoulder by NCOs, presumably so their rank badges would still be visible. Both the brassards have been machine sewn for strength:imageThe dark brown example is dated August 1941:imageAnd the tan example December 1941:imageExamples also exist with Canadian stamps indicating they were also made there. These would have been carried in the soldier’s gas mask bag and I believe two tan and two dark brown examples was the common issue rate. Interestingly these brassards were also issued to US troops during the Normandy invasion and can be frequently seen in period photographs. These brassards are one of the rarer items of British anti-gas equipment- most have not survived due to the fragile and disposable nature of the materials used in their construction. Good examples go for £150 +, these two have been screwed up so are probably not as desirable- but still well worth 50p each!

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