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German Gas Masks


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Not really AFV but one thing that has always puzzled me is why did German soldiers carry gas masks throughout the whole of WWII.

 

I understand at the beginning because the world was expecting a repeat of the tactics of WWI, but it soon became clear that the sides weren’t going to use chemical weapons.  So why did the Germans continue to lug around canisters with gas masks.

 

Cheers,

 

Nigel

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I'm not sure what there is to be puzzled about...do soldiers still carry masks today? Of course they do. While no one likes to lug around more weight than they have to, it seems a small price to pay vs. a horrific death in a gas attack. At no point in WW2 was it '100% clear' that chemical weapons would never be used. The Germans were first to develop nerve agents, and that would have been a nasty surprise for the Allies. One of the main reasons they ended up not being used was simple - fear of retaliation. The US/British kept large supplies of Mustard and its derivatives available in case of attack, although it was policy to no first use. It was a major fear during major amphibious operations like Normandy that the concentrated target would just be too tempting to the Germans to use gas. So the Allies were prepared to retaliate. See this article about the German air raid on the Italian Port of Bari, when a US cargo ship carrying mustard was sunk by air attack.. Gas warfare didn't happen. But it could have, and do you want to be the one to bet your life on it not?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_raid_on_Bari

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The Germans were not the only ones to carry their gas masks with them...  just think of the yellow patches on RAF planes for gas detection. Or the all-aroud-not-loved arm brassards the US airborne had to wear in Normandy -for gas detection. And the rubber bags that the average Omaha Beach trooper wore on his chest contained the mask.

Anyway, gas still was put to its horriffic use in those years...😔

 

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I'm reading a book about 1 Polish Div. The "Polish Eagle" emblems on their helmet were painted with that "gas detection" yellowish shade.

And if you look at some trucks (WOT 6/9), they had sort of shelf in front of driver just for that purpose.

So, they did prepare for the worst scenario. Thankfully, it did not happened!

Zig

 

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God I remember 'sarge throwing teargas into our bivouac shouting "gas, gas, gas" if your mask wasn't on by the third "gas"  you were declared dead....

We slept with our clothes on after the first time!

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