Persistent or vesicant gasses are those that cause blistering and all known examples are heavier than air so often sit as a pool of oily liquid contaminating whatever they come into contact with. Examples of these include mustard gas and Lewisite and they present distinct challenges to personnel decontaminating equipment and vehicles afterwards. The most common method of decontaminating in World War Two was to use a bleaching powder to neutralise the gas and then wipe it off of surfaces before disposing of the contaminated rags. This was not the only tool at a decontamination party’s disposal however and tonight we are looking at a small hand held scraper that could be used for scraping vesicant gas deposits off of flat surfaces:This scraper has a wooden handle:And a large metal head:A piece of rubber is firmly attached to the head:This acts much like a window cleaner’s squeegee and allows the gas to be effectively scraped off. It is interesting to note that unusually the rubber on this scraper is still supple and hasn’t hardened or cracked at all and it would be as effective today as it was when it was made.
The scraper is dated 1942 and has a /|\ mark stamped into the metal shaft of the head:The only indication of the maker are the letter MHB. MHB appears as a makers mark stamped on a large number of military tools, sadly I have been unable to identify an exact manufacturer, even on Grace’s Guide.
Happily these scrapers were never needed and a small stock appears to have come to light in recent years as examples are regularly listed for sale on eBay for around the £10 mark.