Following the baby’s gas mask we looked at before Christmas, we now turn to the next type of respirator a child would be issued when they became too old for the hood type. This gas mask is made of red rubber, with a blue container. Supposedly this is to make it look like Mickey Mouse and thus less frightening to children; how effective it was is not recorded! The government advice went:
Toddlers soon learn to put on their own masks. Let them make a game of it and they will wear their gas masks happily.
These masks cost the government 3/6 each in 1939 and the following description comes from the Civil Defence Pamphlet Volume II ‘Basic Chemical Warfare’ from 1949:
This respirator was designed for children sufficiently developed to wear a respirator, but not big enough to be satisfactorily fitted with the small size Civilian Respirator. As a rough guide it was suitable for children between the ages of about 18 months and 4 to 4 ½ years. Some Children below the age of 4 years were fitted with the small size Civilian Respirator.It consists of a thin flexible moulded rubber facepiece with separate eye-pieces of non-inflammable transparent material:and an outlet valve. A container is screwed into a metal mount on the front of the facepiece:This container, though smaller, gives the same degree of protection as that fitted to respirators for adults. The respirator is held in place by a head-harness formed of coiled springs enclosed in cotton braid: The head harness is not adjustable but the tension and flexibility of the springs is such that the facepiece is held in firm but comfortable contact with the face. A hook and eye attachment to the two lower springs of the head-harness enable them to be hooked together at the back of the neck which prevents easy removal of the respirator by the child itself. A stout cardboard carton with a sling was supplied with the respirator to contain it when not in use.
This gas mask, as is often the case, has lost its cardboard carton and had it replaced with a more durable and attractive leatherette bag in russet brown:Inside the bag is the name of the original owner, Charlotte Goatley, pencilled inside along with her address:This was a wise precaution as gas masks were frequently lost or forgotten! The inside of the mask has a printed date which puts manufacture at 18th April 1940:Apparently toddlers soon learnt to make rude noises to annoy their parents when breathing out through the flapper valve on the front, the rubber making a sound like a whoopee cushion!