Civilian Gas Mask

In the past we have looked at both the baby gas mask here and the children’s gas mask here. Tonight we are turning to the civilian gas mask, the most common and easily found of all the respirators. The mask was made in huge quantities- every civilian in the UK was issued with one. The mask is a simple affair, as befits something that was mass produced, and it would only have offered limited protection from poisonous gases. The following description comes from a post-war publication on civil defence:

The Civilian Respirator

This consists of a mask of thin sheet rubber with a large window of non-inflammable transparent material. imageThe container fits into the face piece and is secured by means of a stout rubber band. imageThe rubber of the mask, being thin and flexible, makes a gas tight contact with the skin of the face all round. The mask with container attached is held in place with three webbing bands which pass through a T-shaped buckle at the back of the head.imageWhen the wearer breathes in, air is drawn through the container where all traces of war gas are removed. When he breathes out the valve at the inner end of the container closes to prevent his moist breath from going out through the container and it escapes from the face piece past his cheeks.

Civilian Respirators were made in three sizes, large, medium and small. imageA stout cardboard carton was issued with each respirator to contain it when not in use. imageThese cardboard cartoons were often discarded in favour of homemade cases or tins such as the one we looked at here. In this case the owner has made a leatherette case, with plaited leatherette strap:imageThe letter ‘B’ is seen to the front in an effort to personalise the case and inside is pencilled the name of ‘B R Goatley’: imageThis gas mask came from the same source as the Children’s gas mask we looked at last year and consequently the design of the carry case is virtually identical. I have not determined yet if these covers were handmade or a commercially produced product, but I am leaning to the latter due to their quality and the similar designs of each.

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