vintage, nostalgia and memories


June 2, 2017

Harrowing Vintage Photos of Children and Troops in Gas Masks During World War I

Imagine being a soldier entrenched in the ground and seeing a yellowish fog roll in. At first you don't know what to make of it. Then you begin to smell an odor. It smells like garlic - no wait, more like mustard. Your eyes begin to water and your skin begins to itch and burn. You have to get away from it, but there's no where to go: if you attempt to leave the cover of the trench, you'll be gunned down by enemy soldiers across the battlefield, and yet if you stay, you die choking on this burning yellow cloud! It's everywhere.

This was the experience of some to poison gas in World War I. In many respects World War I, the war fought between several European powers (and eventually America) from 1914-1918, can be thought of as a 'war of firsts.' The aircraft, tank, machine gun, and other technologies first saw widespread use in World War I. And of course, another important invention that was new to the war was the use of poison gas, or what we would call chemical warfare. Chemical weapons scared the daylights out of ordinary soldiers; it's not surprising when you consider the scenario described earlier! It was a powerful new weapon that caused unspeakable agony to those exposed to it.

Gas masks used in World War I were made as a result of poison gas attacks that took the Allies in the trenches on the Western Front by surprise. Early gas masks were crude as would be expected as no-one had thought that poison gas would ever be used in warfare as the mere thought seemed too shocking.

French soldiers with dog wearing gas masks during gas in Western Front trenches, 1916. (Culture Club/Getty Images)

British soldiers wearing gas masks,1917. (SSPL/Getty Images)

Man wearing a gas mask during World War I, November 1915. (Culture Club/Getty Images)

German Soldiers and donkey wearing gas masks during World War I, 1915. (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Two nurses wearing gas masks in Soissons, France, circa 1914. (Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

A young schoolboy of Reims, France, wearing his gas mask in 1916. (UIG/Getty Images)

Members of the American Expedition Forces in the 1st line trenches at the Lorraine, France, during WWI.

Prepping for asphyxiant gas in Bras-sur-Meuse, France, in May 1915. (Getty Images)

Children in Alsace, France, wearing their gas masks in February, 1918. (Getty Images)

American soldier wearing gas mask in France, 1918.



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