Gas masks for babies tested at an English hospital, 1940


The hospital is running a drill to make sure they can implement procedures for the toxic gas and, in this case, nurses are testing infant gas masks.

This gas mask was meant for children up to two years of age and the design covered the entire child except his feet.

The photo is part of the Imperial War Museum in London and the original caption read: "Three nurses carry babies in baby gas respirators in the corridors of a London hospital during a gas drill. Note the carrying handle on the respirator used by the nurse to carry the baby to the foreground".

In 1938, the British government gave gas masks to everyone, including children, to protect them if the Germans dropped poison gas bombs on Britain.

They were normally carried in a cardboard box or in some cases a tin box and had to be carried wherever you went. Colored masks were issued to make children feel less scary.

Babies had special crib-like respirators that were only issued when an emergency situation arose. The babies were placed inside the case and when all the covering flaps were folded and the straps closed, the baby was completely closed.

There is an asbestos filter on the side of the mask, and it absorbs toxic gases. Attached to it is a rubber tube-shaped concertina with a handle.

It was pushed back and forth to pump air into the mask. With the child inside the mask, an adult can begin using the handpump.

During the demonstrations, there were reports that children fell asleep and became unnaturally immobile inside the masks. It is likely that the pump did not pump enough air into the mask and the babies came close to suffocating. Fortunately, they were never put to the test in real conditions.

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