Sometimes a postcard crops up which is sadly badly damaged, occasionally however the subject matter is of such interest that it is still worth adding to the collection and this week’s example is one such. This postcard has sadly had the two edges torn from it, however it depicts a Royal Navy anti-gas school and so is well worth taking a closer look at:
The First World War had highlighted the potential dangers of gas warfare, although how effective it would be at sea was not clear. On the theory it was better to be safe than sorry, the Royal Navy ensured its men were equipped with respirators and had the correct training on gas, how it was used, how to protect oneself against it and how to treat gas casualties. These courses were held at a number of locations, but from the chalkboard in this postcard we can see that this was taken at Devonport:
The fact that this is the 59th weekly course shows how much effort went into training sailors to ensure their safety, in total well over 550 classes would be run for sailors in Devonport alone. Similar Anti-Gas schools were run in both Chatham and Portsmouth. The officers delivering the course are sat in the centre but the course has a mix of senior rates and a single rating stood at the back attending the training:
All the men in the photograph wear the respirator haversack in the ‘alert’ position.
The Devonport Anti-Gas School ran from December 1921 until December 1940 and the officers attached to the school were borne on the books of HMS Vivid, the name of the Royal Naval Barracks in Devonport.