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Gas Masks

A child's Mickey Mouse Gas Mask on display in The Devil's Porridge Museum.

WW2 Gas Masks

By Collections blog

One of the gas masks which we have on display within the Museum is a kids Mickey Mouse gas mask from WW2. These masks were desinged to look like Mickey Mouse to appeal more to children and to encourage them to wear them. Children were asked to keep their masks within reach at all times, which meant they had to take them to school stored in a box with string on it to go over the child’s shoulder, they also had to keep them next to their bed at night and when they were doing general activities in the event of a sudden German gas attack. Kids were sometimes told to wear the masks in class while they were at school, presumably to get the children more used to wearing them so they wouldn’t struggle or refuse to put them on in the event of a gas attack. 10 million of these masks were made and distributed in 1938 in the event of the outbreak of war.


On display with the Childs Mickey Mouse gas mask is a gas mask for babies which is designed to cover the top half of the child and strap around them like a nappy which allows means only their legs are exposed. These gas masks were issued to every child up to 2 years old in 1938 when all citizens were issued a gas mask in the event of an outbreak of war. These gas masks were tied securely which made it air-tight, and had a big visor so that the child could see out of it. These gas masks were fitted with an asbestos filter which absorbed poisonous gas, attached to this was a rubber tube with a handle which was used to pump air into the mask which would be used by the child’s parent or any other adult present. Many paretn doubted these masks as they were very skeptical about putting their child in a completey air tight mask. There were also reports that during demonstrations babies fell asleep and became unnaturally still inside the masks. It is likely that the pump didnt push enought air into the mask and the babies came close to suffocating, luckily this was never put to the test.


These two gas masks were made safe by a professional from Kadec Asbestos Management with some of the other gas masks we had kept in the Museums store cupboard. This was kindly funded by Museums Galleries Scotland and allows us to better our Museum collection by making the gas masks we have in our possession safe for public viewing and for staff who work with the objects.


A person lifting a gas mask from a display case.

Young people learn about asbestos management in gas masks

By News

The Devils Porridge Museum collects and displays objects relating to World War One and Two and objects relating to the military and industrial heritage of our area after 1945 (including Chapelcross Nuclear, Scotland’s first Nuclear Power Station). This inevitably means that we have a large collection of gas masks in our collection. These objects are precious social records of wartime experiences but they also contain asbestos in the filter (it wasn’t known at the time the damage that asbestos dust can do to the respiratory system).


Desray removing a Gas Mask from display

We’re very pleased to have received funding from Museums Galleries Scotland to manage the asbestos in our gas mask collection. This has enabled us to hire a professional from Kadec Asbestos Management to work with the objects and make them safe. Bill, from Kadec, has been at the Museum for the past two days and yesterday he spoke with two of our young employees, Desray and Alastair, about his work. Desray and Alastair are completing their SVQ Level 3 in Museums and Galleries Practice. Some of the units focus on collection care and this was a good opportunity for them to find out about the work of external consultants within the Museums sector.


Desray and Alastair speaking with Bill from Kadec Asbestos Management about his work.

The Museum offers opportunities for training and volunteering to all members of our community, if you’d like to find out more about our work, email: or phone: 01461 700021.

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