Gas Masks like this one would have been worn by French, American, and British troops during the First World War. Although each nation had variations on gas masks, by 1917, they had become fairly standardized due to the increased frequency of gas attacks on the front lines. The gas mask features a filtration canister connected by an accordion-style hose to the respirator itself. Lenses protected the wearer’s eyes, and the mask itself was worn on the head by a series of leather straps. This example also features an American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) helmet, to demonstrate how soldiers in the trenches wore gas masks in concert with other equipment for maximum protection.
The first large-scale gas attack was on April 22, 1915, at the Second Battle of Ypres. Germans fired more than 150 tons of chlorine gas. They used chlorine and phosgene in early attacks and introduced mustard gas in 1917. By the end of the war, both Germany and Allied forces deployed 10,000 tons of chemical weapons.
Categories: War & Conflict
Subject: World War, 1914-1919; Chemical warfare; Gas masks
Contributing Institution: Ron Leverenz
Photographer: Ben Divin