A new addition to the Collection of the Northern Ireland War Memorial is this ladies gas mask bag pictured above. The bag with gas mask enclosed was gifted to the museum along with a large piece of shrapnel that was salvaged after the Blitz on Belfast in 1941.
For more information on wartime gas mask bags, and wartime fashion more generally, visit the website for the Imperial War Museums at http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-clothes-rationing-affected-fashion-in-the-second-world-war
A recent exhibition at Imperial War Museum London ‘Fashion on the Ration’ told how the war changed what people wore both at work and at home. ‘By the outbreak of war in September 1939, over 40 million respirators had been distributed in Britain as a result of the potential threat of gas warfare. Although not compulsory, people were advised to carry their gas masks with them at all times. Usually they were issued in a cardboard box with a string threaded through so it could be carried over the shoulder. Retailers were quick to spot a gap in the market for a more attractive solution.’*