Gas Masks During the World War 2

In September 1939, around 38 million gas masks had been given, house to house, to the families. They were never needed.

Why did people have gas masks during the war?

Everyone in England was given a gas mask in cardboard boxes, to protect them from gas bombs, which could be dropped during airstrikes.

Today there is a great increase in the production of gas masks. Modern gas masks are upgraded with filter and hood systems. You can buy gas masks on 

Why did people fear that chemical weapons would be used in World War two?

Gas had been widely used in world war 1and many soldiers died or injured in gas attacks. Mustard gas was the most deadly of all the toxic chemicals used during World War I.  It was almost odorless (could not be smelt easily) and took 12 hours to take effect. It was so powerful that only small amounts needed to be added to weapons like high explosive shells to have devastating effects.

There was fear that it would be used against ordinary people at home in England (civilians).


Posters reminded people to bring their gas masks at all times. People were fined if they were arrested without their gas mask.

What were the gas masks like?

The masks were made of black rubber, which was very hot and smelly. It was difficult to breathe when wearing a gas mask. When you breathed in the air was sucked through the filter to take out the gas. When you breathed out the whole mask was pushed away from your face to let the air out.