Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | August 9, 2014

First World War – use of Mustard Gas

Mustard Gas was first used in August 1917 by the Germans against the Canadians at the Battle for Hill 70.  It was the most lethal of all poisonous gasses used during the Great War.  Once in contact with the skin, mustard-coloured blisters appeared on the skin.  If it was inhaled, it was a long slow death.

gas masks - CopyThe allied forces had to quickly come up with a method of protecting themselves from this lethal gas.  They first used a hood as seen on the left in this picture, later replacing it with a gas mask with a filter as seen on the right. The hood was two layers of flannelette and the outer layer was treated with chemicals that would prevent the gas from coming through.  But it was hard to breathe and vision was limited.  The mask used activated charcoal which made it easier to breathe and vision was much improved through the goggles.

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