Sunday, January 2, 2011
At the outbreak of World War II everyone in Britain was issued with a gas mask as a precaution against a gas attack – presumably from the air – and there were detailed instructions on how to put them on.
Most gas masks made the wearer look like an elephant whose trunk had been cut off at the base although some models had extended nozzles so that they really did look like some strange miniature pachyderm. The gas masks came in their own carry bag and for a child they were just another heavy object to carry to school. Somehow my parents managed to procure a Mickey Mouse gas mask for me which, from memory, was just like a full-face Mickey Mouse but with a yellow can, about the size of a can of baked beans, hanging from the chin.
I was quite excited by my Mickey Mouse head until we had the first gas drill at infants school and I realized that every other child had the black regulation Darth Vader sort of mask. I only wore it once and managed to exchange it the next day so I would blend with the pack.