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WWI Doughboy, Why two gas masks?


artu44

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Today arrived a couple of CD with pics taken from rotogravures of WWI era magazine. I caught this pic of a soldier fully equipped with the M1910 haversack plus an M1904 or M1908 strapped across the chest. I wonder if the adoption of two haversacks was the rule or the guy is equipped just for the photographer.

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I am not sure if we are both looking at the same thing but he is wearing two gas masks. The one on the wearer's right is a French mask in a small round bottom carrier, they were not very effective and mostly used in rear areas (no not the solider's rear area). The one on the wearer's left is the British Box Respirator which was adopted by the US, it is labeled in the picture.

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That's what I see, too-- a French M2 in the small pouch on one side and either a British gas mask or the US version on the other side. That is a very well known and reproduced image.

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hello.

 

This photograph was taken in the neighboroud of my home (Toul sector). Note the bags for M2 french respirator.

 

regards solcarlus.

post-241-1187866532.jpg

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craig_pickrall

I'm sure there is no way to prove this one way or the other BUT...

Maybe he dumped the French mask and is using the bag for personal gear.

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I'm sure there is no way to prove this one way or the other BUT...

Maybe he dumped the French mask and is using the bag for personal gear.

 

This makes the whole thing more logic and it explains why they called the bag "haversack". It makes no sense walk around with two gas masks.

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Maybe more logical, except the soldiers were normally issued both types of masks. The M2 was a back-up and was used for soldiers with head wounds or for other reasons could not wear the British/US type mask. They did not just acquire on their own an extra mask. These M2's were given to them in addition to the British/US type. The M2 was also to be used in the rear areas to preserve the more efficient British/US type for real front line duty.

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  • 5 years later...
RustyCanteen

As others have said, it was normal to have two masks issued.

 

For example, Americans serving on the British front were at one point issued both British SBR's and the older P-H Helmets (basically an upgraded 'Hypo Hood'). That means they would carry the haversacks for both, until ordered to turn in the P-H helmets.

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  • 1 year later...

hi guys! i read on a book some years ago (unfortunately can't remember which one :-( ) that it was a common practice in the us army to have both british SBR gas mask and frnch M2 cause there was this unsound habit to use the british during incoming gas attacks and assault and the french (lighter and without the uncomfortable noseclip!!) while attacking. u can easily understand that this practice was soon to be ban cause lots of people died while switching the two gas masks.
hopes it can help! now i just have to find out the source,, (maybe it was the official us army history of chemical service during ww2 wherein a complete account of the evolution of antigas devices from ww1 to ww2 is well depicted)

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You can find this stuff in WW1 orders. They carried both at the very start of US involvement. The SBR was rather hard to wear for a long period of time, so the M2 could be used when it was just smoke, or when it was just light residual gas. The problem was that too many doughboys wore the M2 when they should have put on the SBR, and were gassed. So at some point, and I forget the date off the top of my head, there were orders given that you were not allow to wear them with a certain range of the front (basically within arty range). and this then led to them stop issuing the M2 to combat troops, only in the very rear areas.

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