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Early WW1 British Cloth Gas Mask - Has anyone got one ?

Article about: by Gustaf B That is a very nice example, Rob. I am jealous, although I probably do not have any right to be jealous, as I do have a gas hood, I used to think that getting one of these would

  1. #31



    Here is the latest addition to my Gas Helmet collection--a PHG (I now have at least one example of each type-Hypo, P PH and PHG.

    Hope this is of interest.

    Joe Sweeney
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  2. #32


    That's awesome Joe, you're a very lucky man indeed being able to own such a piece. I have only seen less than 5 examples of the PHG Hood including yours. Thanks for sharing it, they truly are a very seldom seen piece of early British gas protection equipment.

    The PHG was the last of the hood/helmet type masks used by the British Forces. It was quickly replaced by the Small Box Respirator which came about around the same time, if not soon after if I remember correctly. I know this is stepping away from the original purpose of the thread which was about gas hoods, so apologies if I am derailing it slightly, but I thought it was worth sharing the next step in the development of gas masks used by the British Armed Forces. The Small Box Respirator really was a considerable advancement in gas mask design on a whole. The configuration of a face mask with two circular eyepieces, a head harness, inhale and exhale valves and a corrugated tube leading to a filter was used by the British Armed Forces until just after WW2, and can still be seen elsewhere today.

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    The British Small Box Respirator (BSBR)

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    Comparison between the British Small Box Respirator (left), and the American Small Box Respirator (right)



  3. #33


    Well done Joe - What a lucky collector you are, I've never even come across one on offer. Then good collectors make their own luck. One question - what's the purpose of the black band attached to the eye-pieces ? I take it the eye-pieces are fixed to the hood, so why the band ? Regards

  4. #34


    PHG stands for Phenate Hexamine Goggles. Essentially, the PHG hood is a PH hood with built in goggles as apposed to standard eyepieces. The reason being that some gasses could still penetrate the hood, so the goggles separated the wearers eyes from the rest of the airspace inside the mask in the event of the hood being penetrated, thus giving the eyes some additional protection. The black band is an adjustable elastic strap which holds the goggles tight against the wearers eyes. I'll try to upload a period photo of the PHG hood being worn tomorrow, its in one of the books I have.



  5. #35



    Thanks for the input and Danny not off topic for me.

    Your SBR looks like its in nice shape. I'm not sure if are aware but the filter canister is an American replacement. America used 3 types--Black (Training), Green and Yellow.

    British SBRs canisters were initially black in color but that changed in early summer of 1917 when the NC canister was introduced. These were lacquered on the outside giving a reddish brown appearance. They were left natural metal on the inside. As a result these are commonly found rusted out from the inside.

    The diagram below cam-out of Kew from records of the Gas section of the Trench warfare department. It shows the evolution of the canisters insides.

    Hope this is of interest

    Joe Sweeney

  6. #36


    Joe, thanks very much for that extra bit of information and the diagram especially. I am only starting to venture into the realms of early British gas masks a bit more than I have previously done, so I still have a lot to learn. Hopefully my planned trip to the National Archives in Kew will bring to light a lot of documents that haven't ever been looked at. I was aware of it being a US type filter, I believe it is known as the "J Type". I'm not too sure how original the filter is to the mask, as the wire that would have held it in place is missing and the filter can be easily popped off. Either way, its in nice shape and a lot more displayable than the majority of BSBR's out there. Below is another of the BSBR's in my collection, the corrosion to the filter can be seen very clearly. This is unfortunately something that happens more often than not with BSBR's.

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    British Small Box Respirator, with rusted canister.

    I also completely forgot about uploading the photo when I said I would, but here it is at the bottom of this post, a period photo of the PHG hood as worn. The photo is from the book "Porton Down" by G B Carter.


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  7. #37


    These early hooded gas masks always put me in mind of the masks used by doctors during the plague epidemics of the 17th century. The beaks on the 17th century versions were stuffed with vinegar soaked sponges and herbs to filter the air as they then believed plague was an airborne virus.

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    Perhaps these influenced the designers of the Ww1 masks in some way? The mask from above is from Berlin and is an original 17th century item. Danny hope you don't mind me using your photo to illustrate the point?


    Last edited by canti44; 02-14-2014 at 04:57 PM.

  8. #38


    Here's a couple of pictures flinched from a German pictorial paper " Welt im Bild" printed October 1915 in different languages, shows a photo of a British machine gun section with masks and a illustration of "Tommies" wearing protective masks attacking German trenches. Couple of questions, in the photo all the machine gun team are wearing white masks, except one with a dark hood would he be the commander of the section? also I've read references to troops wearing smoke hoods are they referring to early gas masks or something entirely different, any in formation welcome.
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  9. #39


    I am not sure if it is known here but Joe Sweeney passed away, I think it was late last year. he was a real expert and ever helpful in his area, and is sadly missed and commemorated with a forum named in his honour on the Great War Forum.


    Whatever its just an opinion.

  10. #40


    German Feldpost card showing a English and French soldiers wearing early gas protection
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