The NBC facelet was a very basic form of emergency protection in case of a chemical weapon attack that offers a lighter and more comfortable alternative to a respirator when a chemical attack was possible but hadn’t actually happened. The facelet would offer some limited short term protection until the respirator proper could be donned and was less tiring to wear for extended periods. The facelet consisted of two parts, a nylon H-Strap to secure it to the head and the mask itself that covered the mouth and nose and was made of the same material as the NBC suit. Its distinctive shape led it to be nicknamed the ‘mask, Donald duck’ by troops:
The mask was issued in two parts, the H-frame in a zip-lock bag and the mask itself in a vacuum sealed bag:
The mask has a small paper set of instructions included in the packaging that explains how to assemble and use it:
The mask itself has a label which dates it to 1994 and the press studs used to attach it to the head harness are clearly visible:
The harness itself is made of nylon and has multiple press studs to provide different sizing for different head shapes and sizes:
Rather than having a separate label, the harness has its stores details printed directly to it:
The masks were issued in limited numbers, but were not popular with troops:
Got issued them on OP Granby, for when driving, about as much use as a chocolate fire guard as took longer to switch to respirator!
The masks were used for handling prisoners of war and for the clearance of battlefield casualties during the First Gulf War as a hygiene tool, however were not needed to protect against chemical weapons. Another user recalls:
I was issued this along with a general issue of upgraded kit i.e. head over, quilted zip up under trousers, sleeping mat, long sleeved T shirts etc in 1986 in BAOR. We were never instructed upon its use in NBC Training. We did however “play” with the item and found out how to use it with the enclosed instructions. As most Soldiers of the day smoked, we ended up calling it a “NBC Baccy Pouch”. Made of the same material as a NBC suit MK3 but minus the green cotton outer layer. Our Unit never used them whilst on exercise, we went from NBC full suit to mask.
The following article comes from a September 1986 copy of the Army Training News:
We were never issued anything like this that I saw but it would have been lighter than a cartridge respirator and maybe handy for dusty conditions, assuming it stopped dust…the paper ‘masks’ people were told would stop visuses don’t.