A year ago we looked at the Mk IV Respirator here, this example being the most common World War two type with the brick-red type E Mk V canister. Since then I have been lucky enough to find the earlier, and much scarcer, version of the mask with a tan canister on Huddersfield second hand market:As we have already covered the face mask in the earlier post I will not go into details again, except to highlight the very early date of this mask, 1937:The canister is a ‘Type E’ and is painted in a tan colour:Two vents are cut into the sides of the canister near the base:Air passes through these vents and into the main body of the canister, passing through the first of two diaphragms and a set of asbestos fibre pads. After passing through this, air travels through a charcoal layer and then into the breathing tube and up into the mask:The filter tin is marked with a black printed /|\ mark on the top:
The top piece is also dated 23/3/38:The base of the filter is marked as having been made by Barrington, Wallis & Manners Ltd of Mansfield:This company had been producing canisters for British gas masks since the First World War. The date ‘1938’ is again visible stamped on the base, the 4A refers to the tin type not the contents.
This filter was the one issued to troops at the start of the war and through the Battle of France, many thousands being lost when the BEF evacuated from Dunkirk. The filter itself was withdrawn from service when it was realised by scientists at Porton Down that German gas masks were better at filtering arsenic based gasses and it was feared these might be used and British troops would have no protection from them- the new brick red filter being designed to resolve this problem. As the filter was updated most masks were returned to stores and upgraded, making examples of the earlier filter much less common.