When the new Mk IV respirator was introduced it was discovered that the previous practice of troops wearing their own spectacles was no longer appropriate due to the closer fitting face piece of the new respirator. In February 1938 a meeting was held with representatives of opthamologists from each service and it was agreed that a dedicated respirator spectacle should be developed for those servicemen who needed glasses. By the end of 1938 a new design of respirator spectacle had been approved.
The spectacles came in four sizes and measuring devices were distributed to medical officers so they could measure individual soldiers. The glasses themselves were made of white metal, with two round lenses and tubular, flexible earpieces and a narrow nose piece so they could be worn under a respirator safely:
Each soldier was issued with two pairs, one of which was worn and the other carried in a sturdy blue case:
The lid of the case was sprung so that when it was closed it did not open by accident:
A small paper label was pasted into the case, examples can be found with it in the top or bottom, that explained their use and advising the soldier to speak to a medical officer if he experienced any problems:
A number of different manufacturers were contracted to make the spectacles for the War Office including United Kingdom Optical Co. (London), Hadley Co. (Surrey)and M.Wiseman and Co. (London).
This particular pair of spectacles will be familiar to many of you from my reconstructions as they have been refitted with a pair of lenses to my prescription and so are the pair I use for living history.