Glimpses of War

This article is an extract from the latest BMMHS Publication “Glimpses of War Volume 2“. A compilation of military stories and eyewitness accounts to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK.

Glimpses of War Volume 2 Front Cover
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Children’s Gas Masks

Following the widespread use of poison gas by both sides on the battlefields of the Great War, everyone was required to carry a gas mask during the Second World War, as it was expected that Germany would use gas on the British people. Karen Wiles, a historian specialising in the Home Front history, describes the gas masks designed for young children. As it transpired no gas was ever used on Britain.

Children’s Gas Masks

Children practice wearing gas masks.

The red and blue mask was for a two to five year old child. The British government gave everyone in Britain a gas mask as protection against possible poison gas attacks by the Germans. This mask was known as the ‘Mickey Mouse’ mask even though it doesn’t look anything like the cartoon mouse!  Because many small children were frightened of gas masks, bright colours and the friendly name were used.

The mask is made of red rubber with round plastic eyepieces. There are straps to hold the mask on the head and the rubber fits snugly round the child’s face. Children were taught to hold the mask in front of their face, with thumbs inside the straps, then put their chin well into the mask and pull the straps over their head.

Toddlers soon learned to put on their own masks. Let them make a game of it and they will wear their gas masks happily.

Children learned to annoy their parents by making a ‘raspberry’ noise every time they breathed out.

Glimpses of War Volume 2 Front Cover

Glimpses of War

Glimpses of War Volume 2 is due to be published on Amazon in October 2021.

‘Congratulations to the BMMHS. Historical awareness is essential to understanding who we are. To this purpose I loved Glimpses of War: Gloriously informative, deeply interesting and constantly intriguing.’ 

General (Retired) Sir James Everard KCB CB


GOW Front Cover Feb

Glimpses of War Volume 1 is available on Amazon.

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