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found on beach near Dunkirk

Article about: I found this gas mask sticking out of the sand at low tide. I originally thought it was some old scuba gear neoprene or something. But as I pulled, my heart leaped with the possibility of

  1. #1

    Default found on beach near Dunkirk

    I found this gas mask sticking out of the sand at low tide. I originally thought it was some old scuba gear neoprene or something. But as I pulled, my heart leaped with the possibility of what I found. I didnt even dig around the area to see if there might be something else. I was dumbfounded.
    For the past 3 days I have been trying to find out how to take care of it. I have kept it submerged in fresh water. The white object stuck to it really confused me. Perhaps it is the bottom of a ceramic/glass container possibly anti-gas cream. There is also a fork cemented into the mix. Perhaps these things were stored together in the bag that contained the canister?
    Both eye holes have glass intact; one is obscured with a rusty type film. The straps have all corroded except some of the elastic bands. These are stuck to the canister part with hardened marine life/sand.
    Please help me decide how to preserve this piece of history. Should I try to separate the white container and fork from the canister? There is one corner of the canister that looks like the hard marine substance has chipped off and the rusted canister corner is exposed. The canister itself is very heavy. Probably completely filled with sand. Advice?
    Im also afraid of what this is going to smell like as it dries out! Dead clams?
    Pardon the poor photography.Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2


    Neat item!!!

    Dean O

  3. #3


    Fascinating find! I'm sure that you're right that the other items were together with the gasmask in its bag. I'd try to do as little as possible to it - its interest lies in where it was found and how nature has treated it in the intervening 76 years. After it has dried out perhaps you could try to encapsulate it in a block of clear resin - would make a substantial paperweight!

  4. #4


    Congratulations, that's a historic find for sure...I can't help but visualize the dramatic scenes on the beach-head...
    I've never put any type of preservative on anything, I generally only remove the surface rust/crud and leave things as they are...
    Welcome to the Forum!
    cheers, Glenn

  5. #5


    keep it in water for about a week at least.

  6. #6


    That I could NEVER lift! This thing is so full of sand it is heavy enough. Thanks for the advice regarding leaving it in it's natural condition, though.

  7. #7


    Sigh.... Above comment to DrPMC. I don't know how to work these forums. It took me 4 days to figure out how to reply at all. I've got one more coming.

  8. #8


    Quote by harryamb2 View Post
    keep it in water for about a week at least.
    TO harryamb2: I have kept this in water for about a week now. Now what? I have heard to use Power Steering Fluid on the rubber to preserve it. ??? I don't want it back in it's pristine state, then it would just look like a surplus item. But this has been in salt water for 76 years and I'm worried about it crumbling to nothing. Since I am new to Forums like this, is there another place I should post this find - all about preservation and such?
    Thanks, yall, for the encouragement. :-)

  9. #9


    Nice find ! I walked the entire beach last May during the 75th Anniversary and didn't see a thing !!

    Where on the beach was it found ?


  10. #10


    I would leave it in fresh water for much more than a single week, I would say at least three times that, maybe even more to be sure, replacing it once in a while as the point would be to first leech out the saltwater and then dry out and preserve somehow. I would not recommend fixatives. at least not the ones I know of, as they only create an ugly surface shell, which in my experience will crack and yellow over time... no satisfactory results there from my experience.

    The saltwater found items I have had success in cleaning and stabilizing have all been thoroughly rinsed to remove as much saltwater as possible (placed in fresh water and cleaned as much as possible/desired, replacing the water every week or so) if not it will be next to impossible to preserve in a good way as the salt will crystallize as it dries out, dried off and then treated with renaissance wax immediately after --- several layers polished in.

    I have experienced that the easier saltwater finds to clean are bakelite, cloth, heavy steel parts as used in guns and leather to some degree (although you must not allow leather to dry out before conserving, as this will stiffen it and promote cracking ).

    The bottom line for me would be that you'll need to clean it as much as you possibly can in order to remove the salt AND be able to add your selected preservative on every inch of surface. If not there's only encasing it, as suggested above, or simply leaving it all alone (watching it deteriorate) as is that would work, imo. Good luck!

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