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M1917 Corrected English Model Gas Mask Bag


SGM (ret.)

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Hi all,

 

Just added this gas mask bag (gas mask haversack?) to my collection, completing a display that was missing one. The bag is in very nice condition with strong colors (a slightly pea-greenish shade of khaki with brownish-khaki straps) and no damage besides a couple of small rust spots.

 

However, I was wondering about the markings. I've searched through the forums and even checked out Frankie G.'s mask info over on "Doughboy's" but can't find any definitive info on the significance of the factory (?) / issue (?) markings (manufacturer's dates? filter lot numbers? what?).

 

Attached is a collage showing the markings on this bag. The size "3" marking on the flap is understood, but under the flap is stamped "S-18-25" (from other photos, a common letter-number-number series) which is over stamped with "1160493." This number ("1160493") is also stamped twice on the outside of the bag under the flap. (The bag also has a personal name and YMCA stamped on its outside obverse as worn in the ready position, but this is no mystery.) Does anyone know what these numbers mean?

 

At any rate, thought I'd ask.

 

Mike

 

BTW: Thanks forum member "Holloman" for the bag off the For Sale Forum.

post-626-1263760011.jpg

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I seem to be the only US WWI gas mask guru here but unfortunately I haven't been able to to decipher the meaning of the number you ask about.

 

I do have a few guesses as to what the number may be but only research can definitely ID what they are.

 

S-18-25 could signify time of manufacture and batch of masks. I imagine that 18 would be 1918. Mask bags made by Simmons were dated 1917 or 1918 showing the full date.

 

The other number could be serial number for the mask being issued to keep track of them as they are being issued. I have two masks left in my collection and I will dig them out to see what numbers I have.

 

If you have a mask handy check out the numbers on that. Equally as puzzling!

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If you have a mask handy check out the numbers on that. Equally as puzzling!

 

Thanks for the reply, Frankie.

 

Actually, the first thing I did was to check out the other CEM mask in my collection. I had thought that the longer number might correlate with the filter lot number - no joy.

 

My other mask, shown in these two forum links:

 

WWI Displays

M1917 with CEM Gas Mask

 

is marked in raised letters on the yellow filter: "114XH" and "CAMCO (in an oval)" along with a couple of dates scratched into the paint. The bag is stamped "540623" in two places (corresponding to the same bag and flap locations as the bag in post #1). The bag is, BTW, a Simmons, but the date is obscured by black ink where the size marking (I think a "3") has bled through the flap. (You can just read the first 3 letters of the name, Simmons, where the ink blob is.)

 

The mask itself is stamped in black ink "93 T 203" on the front just above where the inlet elbow enters and "115X62200" on the outside above the left eyebrow on the outside edge. This mask does not have the size marking stamped on the front.

 

At anyrate, the long number on the bag does not correspond to the filter lot (?) number (114XH), nor either of the other two numbers on the mask face blank.

 

Does the number on the bag correspond to anything written in the log book which was supposed to be maintained with the mask (missing from my mask)? If so, this might indicate an inventory control number.

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The only number I've seen written in the mask record books are the soldier's serial number. I think the number on the filter wound have been irrelevant to issue and it probably is the lot number as you have mentioned. From what I've read the filter was to to be replaced after so many hours of use.

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Sinced you asked I'll add mine to the list as well. Maybe you can use it as a reference.

 

I have the original gas mask that is in this bag. It's (gasmask) is stamped "234H207P". There's a "205 KN" under the chin NOT C.E. The hose is stamped "22". The canister is green and is stamped "J" ( Type "J" filter).

This was adopted in JULY, 27, 1918.

 

S-18-23-1427

WWI4thinfantryCampaignHat018.jpg

 

Here's the bottom 1428602

WWI4thinfantryCampaignHat017.jpg

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Well, given that Simmons manufactured bags have the company name and date stamped in the same location under the flap, I suppose it's a logical assumption that the "S-number" (S-18-25; S-18-23-1427; etc.) fufills the same purpose and is a manufacturer's code and date (but still an assumption).

 

Since the longer numbers are stamped over (on both my mask bags and almost on Enfield's bag) the manufacturer's name and date, it would seem possible that this number is added later, after the bag has been made (by either Simmons or the mystery "S"). Perhaps this number was added when the Gas Mask was physically installed into the bag and is related to inventory control / quality control tracking of the masks by either the Chemical Corps or the mask manufacturer (again, just an assumption).

 

Does anyone know what company(ies) actually made the masks (perhaps final assembly if the components were subcontracted)? Were the bags a separate contracted component or a subcontracted component for the mask maker(s)?

 

IRT the filter lot numbers and inventory control:

 

I know that when I was on active duty, the unit NBC NCO's and BN Chemical Officers tracked gas mask filter lot numbers and installation dates very carefully. There were occasions when entire lot numbers were replaced based on some sort of "re-call," and all filters were replaced based on estimated training usage and expiration dates. The mechanisms for all of this control were the filter lot numbers and the filter's "first use" date.

 

I'd assume that the WWI mask was tracked somehow from its manufacture and first issue in order to identify quality problems, estimated expiration dates, and to ensure that it was replaced before it became ineffective. Part of that was the "log card" which was supposed to kept by the soldier with his mask, but I'd also assume that there were other methods in place as well.

 

Perhaps the details have just been lost to time.

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Although they were supposed to track hours of use, they quickly realized that was impossible and the chermical officers just started replacing the filters automatically after a unit came out of the line. (from a WW1 CWS document).

 

But I think they were much more careful about tracking the mask stocks due to ptential issues with manufacture issues, such as the whole first batch being bad and having to be pulled from service.

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As the Wonder Land character said: "Curiouser and couriouser..."

 

I've seen other "S-18-number (-number)" stamped bags, but this is the first that I've seen other letters (now "R" and "P"). What to make of it?

 

You can see from my posts above that I was tending toward the letter "S" indicating a specific manufactuer (maybe even Simmons later production) with the numbers indicating production dates or lots for that maker. Maybe this is still true, or do the new letters indicate other manufacturers? The smaller size letters and digits on Frankie's "P18" bag suggests different makers assuming that a single manufactuerer would use a single size stamp... But maybe not.

 

Maybe the "lot" numbers ran alphabetically with the letters simply indicating blocks of lot numbers used by the same maker.

 

Hmmmmm....?

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world war I nerd

I can't help out with the serial numbers purpose, but the gas mask filters were good for approx. 40 to 100 hours of service, depending on the type of chemical agents that they were exposed to.

 

As everybody knows the log books were for the individual soldiers to keep track of their own mask's exposure time. But of course this was practically impossible for the Doughboys to do while in combat. The Gas Offices was supposed to keep track of this and replace the filters as necessary, but they obviously had to resort to other methods in view of the fact that the men failed to properly record the mask's useage.

 

Many gas officers relied on their own knowledge of the types of gas shells and the length of exposure while in the line and simply estimated when the filters needed replacing while some actually dated each filter when it was issued to better keep track of how long it was in service. One Division Gas Officer wrote,

 

"Any man who can accurately keep track of the mask's usage in the hell of battle should immediately be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal."

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  • 5 years later...

This thread is now in the reference section, but the discussion can be continued here: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/233734-aef-gasmasks-respirators-1917-to-1919/?p=2060694

 

I think Frankie misread the last two digits:

 

The bag to my RFK mask is marked P18-32-1288, no other numbers.

 

Which were probably 1290.

 

The first letter is the initial for the manufacturer, and the other numbers are explained in the link I posted.

 

RC

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