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Thread: WW2 British Gas Mask Bag

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Default WW2 British Gas Mask Bag

    Hello All,

    I've just acquired this British gas mask bag from my dad which he uncovered during a recent clear out. Apparently he used it when he was a boy for keeping sandwiches in when he went fishing and again for this purpose when he first started work.

    It's dated 1941 and I believe that it's a Mk6 type but I will leave that for someone with more knowledge than me to confirm.

    I would like to locate the correct type of mask and accessories for the bag so if anyone can help me identify what should be in the bag and how it was packed that would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Ian.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: WW2 British Gas Mask Bag

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian43 View Post
    Apparently he used it when he was a boy for keeping sandwiches in when he went fishing and again for this purpose when he first started work.
    Very useful too. I have one that was dyed black & used by the RUC. Seemed curious as pics from 1969 show S6 respirators in use. I queried the use of the black bag with a retired officer & he explained they were used in the 50s-60s for a "flask & sandwiches", which being compartmentalised, they are admirably suited as your dad discovered.
    Clive Elliott

    Always wanted old British Army publications of any period (the older the better) eg AC, ACI, AEMI, AESP, AO, COSA, CP, CR, DCI, EMEC, EMEI, EMER, EMPL, EMPS, ER, ETS, JSP, LoC, LTI, MAOS, MRA, RAOS, REA, VAOS, WMTI, etc, Army & WO Coded publications in paper or fiche.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    133

    Default Re: WW2 British Gas Mask Bag

    Quote Originally Posted by fv1609 View Post
    Very useful too. I have one that was dyed black & used by the RUC. Seemed curious as pics from 1969 show S6 respirators in use. I queried the use of the black bag with a retired officer & he explained they were used in the 50s-60s for a "flask & sandwiches", which being compartmentalised, they are admirably suited as your dad discovered.
    Yep, I remember them so clearly from the 60s - I had one as a fishing bag and so many workmen had them for their lunchboxes and flasks (remember the donkey jacket?) they were very common then. I'm sure you've thought about it, but, if you do get a mask to go in it, be careful as some of the filters were asbestos based - someone on here will recall which ones - and over the years this has degraded leaving asbestos dust in the mask itself to be breathed in by the unwary!

    10 68

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: WW2 British Gas Mask Bag

    In my 50 years of working, my lunch bag has always been a WW2 haversack of some kind, I know the first few were definitely gas mask bags and they easily carried a Thermos and lunch box as if they were made for the purpose. I bet many thousands of these items ended up being used this way.
    Richard Farrant

    1943 Bedford QLD - 1941 BSA WM20 - 1943 Daimler Scout Car Mk.2
    MVT no. 1087 - IMPS no. 57 - AMVCS hon. member and Comms. officer
    KVE President and Newsletter Editor

  6. #5

    Default Re: WW2 British Gas Mask Bag

    Quote Originally Posted by 10FM68 View Post
    I'm sure you've thought about it, but, if you do get a mask to go in it, be careful as some of the filters were asbestos based - someone on here will recall which ones - and over the years this has degraded leaving asbestos dust in the mask itself to be breathed in by the unwary!

    10 68
    ALL WW2 respirator filters contained asbestos.

    That particular bag is for the "Service" respirator, with the oval can on the end of a hose to the mask. The filter can contains blue asbestos (crocidolite), which is the worst kind.

    The other common respirators, e.g. the "Civilian Duty" variety with a substantial rubber mask that had the filter canister fitted to the front, contained white asbestos (chrysotile), which is somewhat less hazardous[1]. The civilian (thin rubber) masks used substantially the same filter canister as the civilian duty type.

    A further caution: some respirators have an additional canister fixed to the front of the main filter and coloured green. This is the "Contex" filter, intended to protect against Arsine (Arsenic Hydride), and that canister contains blue asbestos. (It's entirely possible that later canisters with green (and red) stripes also contain blue asbestos.)

    The filter paper used in the canisters was made from a pulp of esparto grass with asbestos fibre added. This will degrade over time, due to damp, mould growth, insects, etc. and release the asbestos fibres into the canister, from which they can escape into the atmosphere. Obviously you should not risk breathing air that has passed through one of them, just on general principles. They were fairly safe when manufactured (to the end user, less safe to the assembly workers), but time will have taken its toll.

    Museums make them safe(r) for display by pouring glue (PVA adhesive, diluted with water) into the canister and letting it dry. (Treat it from both ends.) There's always the risk that loose fibres have already escaped into the tube and mask (facepiece) though, so treat any mask with caution.

    This post brought to you by the Elves who drink Safe Tea (because elfin safe tea is very important).

    Chris.

    [1] Only somewhat less hazardous- do not put on any respirator made prior to (approximately) 1960, which is when they changed from using asbestos paper filters to spun glass filters.
    Last edited by Chris Suslowicz; 11-08-2017 at 22:19.

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