British civilians were issued with gas masks at the start of World War Two. There was concern that the German bombers would drop chemical bombs on civilians. Therefore, the Government issued a gas mask to every British civilian. The gas masks had to be carried around at all times and advice was given on how to put on the mask should an attack occur.
It was the Air Raid Warden’s responsibility to ensure that everybody had been issued with a gas mask. So when some people complained that they had not been issued with a gas mask at the start of the war, the Government advised them to turn to the Air Raid Warden.
Special gas masks were designed for babies which would be issued in an emergency situation. Children were issued with special gas masks that soon became known as Micky Mouse masks.
If a person was outside at the time of an attack, they were advised to turn up their coat collar to prevent gas from drifting down their necks.
Here, a teacher gives her experience of gas masks:
“We didn’t enjoy the gas masks…people tried to pretend you could carry on a normal daily life wearing one. You had demonstrations and films of people making breakfast in gas masks. As if you’d be making breakfast in the middle of a gas attack…you could blow the most sensational raspberries through them, which is what children did. They were horrible though, vile, smelly, slimy things. I hated them.”
If gas was detected in the air, a gas rattle would sound and the tops of pillar boxes were coated in paint that would change colour. Luckily, these measures were not needed as no poison gas was dropped on Britain.
See also: Your Gas Mask
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