Disclaimer: Please note that some of this article is based on estimate alone due to the lack of surfaced documentation concerning the Candian Light AGR. Please take note where information is mentioned as an assumption.
Shortly after the introduction of the British Light Anti-Gas Respirator, Canada was to receive early British models and the begin production of their own Light Respirators known, initially as the Canadian Light Assault Respirator. The Canadian Light AG Respirator was introduced with the 1942 change in webbing equipment and seemingly served until the introduction of the C3 and supposedly even later in certain roles.
The Canadian Light AG Respirator, unlike the Light Anti-Gas Respirator series of Great Britain, was relatively simple in terms of designations. There were two models, one little more than a Canadian manufactured Light Anti-Gas Respirator Mk. II and the other essentially the same aside from a Canadian faceblank design known as the L3/C which was created to improve the flexibility and fit of the Canadian Light AG Respirators.
Much like the British Light Anti-Gas Respirators, many Canadian Light AG Respirators were found to have been adopted by the Danish Civilforsvar in the 1950s under the designation M/45 Beskyttelsesmaske. However, unlike the British models, the Canadians seemingly continued to use their later-type Canadian Light AG Respirator Light Anti-Gas Respirators well into the 1950s until the release of the C3. Even then, it is implied that a variety of variations were still used for certain purposes.
All-in-all, the Canadian Light AG Respirator, despite being a fairly disregarded respirator, has a very full history, one of which I hope to discover more about in time. For now, here is what I know.
If you use this information, please credit the user/collector Baroque4Days but note the above disclaimer.
1942: Early-Type - Mk. II Light AG Respirator Copies by DOM Edit
The British Light Anti-Gas Respirator Mk. II, featuring the L2 Mask and L1 Valve Holder, was introduced in 1942, possibly late 1941, and saw limited service in North Africa. Shortly after, the Mk. I and II Respirators were upgraded to the Mk. IA and IIA, the latter being issued en masse before the end of 1942. During the transition, it seems that Canada was sent the Light Anti-Gas Respirator Mk. IIs whilst Britain was moving from the Mk. I, II and GSRs to the Mk. IIA.
The Mk. II Light Anti-Gas Respirators found in Canada, originally referred to as Light Assault Respirators, were made by Canadian and American companies. The faceblanks were made by a company known as "DOM", which is currently assumed to be Dominion Rubber Company. The faceblanks were completely identical to the British L2 faceblanks used on Light Anti-Gas Respirators Mk. II, IIA and IIIA. As such, these early Canadian Light AG Respirators were only available in the "NORMAL" size, just like their British counterparts.
Note: A simple way to distinguish between a British Light Anti-Gas Mk. II and the early-type Canadian Canadian Light AG Respirator is to look for the Canadian Broad Arrow (regular Broad Arrow inside a C) stamped on the forehead.
In Britain, the L1 faceblank, used on Light Anti-Gas Respirators Mk. I, IA and III, were issued alongside the II, IIA and IIIA as they were available in 3 sizes but were inferior (hence why these respirators are a lot less common). In Canada, it is unclear whether or not the Mk. I LAG design was used for those with small or large heads or whether the GSR was retained for such soldiers.
Back to the topic of the early Canadian Light AG Respirator, based on the LAG Mk. II, aside from the faceblank being made by Dominion Rubber, it seemed that the other components were usually made by various American manufacturers. Firstly, B.F. Goodrich, the company best known for their work on American Small Box-Type Respirators, the Akron Tissot, etc, during the First World War, was also known to have made examples of Canadian General Services Respirators Mk. IV and V. The Canadian Light AG Respirators, unlike the Light Anti-Gas Respirators, continued to use the slightly higher quality harness, the No. 4 Mk. III, and thus, Goodrich seemed to be the primary manufacturer of these components.
The Valve Holders are typically marked "C.C.C." or "G.S.W.". Firstly, C.C.C. is assumed to be American company Continental Can Co., a company which did use C.C.C. as a name for themselves. G.S.W., on the other hand, is assumed to be a Canadian company, General Steel Wares. Various Type-E GSR filters are also marked G.S.W. which further adds to this assumption. Back to Continental Can Co., another piece of evidence which suggests that they were the meaning of the C.C.C. markings on half of the Valve Holders, was that the Canadian-issued Anti-Dimming Outfit Mk. VI tins were made by the company "CANCO". CANCO, Can Co., or American Can Company, were the rivals of Continental Can Co. and were established two years earlier. Both companies were credited to being in the top 100 manufacturers during the war. It is also worth noting that C.C.C. was often responsible for making the lens holders.
This Respirator, along with the type discussed in the section below, was used following the war. One example of its post-war usage would be during 1954 during the cleanup of the NRX Nuclear Reactor in Chalk River which had a meltdown in 1952. This reactor leak was said to have been the first in the world. During this operation, Canadian and US Military Personnel were issued to clean the area for no longer than 10 minutes per person, not unlike the liquidators of Chernobyl. One photo included in an article from the Toronto Public Library shows a man wearing the Mk. II Copy Light Anti-Gas Respirator and original Canadian Light Container Mk. II.
The Canadian LAG Mk. II copies have been found stamped 1942, 1943 and 1944. It can be assumed that this was the final cut off date for manufacture, however, based on a kit owned by Baroque4Days, it seems that if this type of Respirator was in good condition and was relatively new, soldiers would likely retain it rather than upgrading in 1944. The upgrade that did occur in 1944 was entirely of Canadian design.
1944: Later-Type - Canadian L3/C Faceblank Design by VMC Edit
Canada, still using the L1 Valve Holder, opted to follow the British in upgrading the faceblank from the L2 to the L3. However, Canada did not use the British style of L3 mould at all. Whilst the British L3 faceblank was thinner with an additional horizontal support to add to the two existing vertical supports and lastly, additional support fabric between the eyepieces, the Canadian L3, known as the L3/C, reverted back to the L1 design with one vertical support and a triangle shape between the eyepieces, something only present due to the Brit's use of Civilian Duty Respirator faceblanks. The mask, despite these regressions, did follow the Brit's primary intention with the L3 mask, to make it thinner and more flexible (whilst also saving money on rubber).
Here is a comparison of the inside and outside of the British L3 faceblank as seen on a Light Anti-Gas Respirator Mk. V and the L3/C faceblank as seen on a 1945 dated Canadian Light AG Respirator Respirator.The later-type Canadian Light AG Respirators were produced the same companies for every component apart from the faceblank. These new L3/C faceblanks were no longer produced by Dominion but by an unknown company called V.M.C. Examples of Continental Can Co., General Steel Wares, B. F. Goodrich, etc components have all been found on these types but, as of now, there have been no examples of these made by any other company than V.M.C. This new version of the Canadian Light AG Respirator began manufacture in 1944, as mentioned, but, based on a finding with 1949 dated components, it is clear these later-type respirators were issued up until the release of the C3. Despite this, it is claimed that Canadian Light AG Respirators, and various variants of the Canadian Light AG Respirator, were used well into the 1980s for a variety of purposes where the C3 could not be issued.This new faceblank was still fitted with the same harness, the No. 4 Mk. III whilst the British continued to use a mixture of the L1 and L2 harnesses. As mentioned before, the Canadian harnesses were a little heavier, but, they were far stronger, more comfortable than their British counterparts. However, a recent discovery suggests that some examples were fitted with a unique and extremely uncommon design, the No. 4 Mk. 4 harness.
Kit Content Breakdown & Identification Edit
Though the design of the facepiece changed in 1944, the Canadian Light AG Respirator seemingly was issued with the same kit throughout the entire war and beyond. Canadian Light AG Respirator kits, much like the Light Anti-Gas Respirator kits, were issued with a Facepiece, Container, Carrier, Sealing Plugs, Anti-Gas Ointment, Anti-Gas Eyeshields, Anti-Dimming Outfit, Cotton Waste and an Anti-Gas Booklet/Pamphlet of some kind breaking down the "COECDO" (Cotton-Waste, Ointment, Eyeshields, Clothing, Detectors, Ointment) decontamination procedure.
LAG Mk. II Copy (1942) or L3/C Faceblank Version (1944)
As discussed above, the Canadians used two types of facepiece during the war, the earlier Light Anti-Gas Mk. II clones and later, the newer models with L3/c Faceblanks.
Differences between the two Canadian Models: Edit
The earlier type can be identified by the use of the L2 faceblank with the L1 valve holder. Inside the mask, between the eyepieces, the designation should read L2. In addition to this, there should be two vertical support beams connecting from the forehead to the nose-area. Finally, the L2 faceblank can be identified by the rounded nose as opposed to the triangle.
The later type can be identified by the use of the L3/C faceblank. Between the eyepieces, the designation should be L3/C, there should only be a single vertical support beam and lastly, and the most iconic difference, the L3/C faceblank will feature a triangle-boss on the nose.
The early type respirators seem to have been made by the company Dominion Rubber. As such, "DOM" should be stamped into the rubber. As for the later-type, these were made by V.M.C. and should feature the initials "V.M.C." bossed on to the cheek opposite the container mount.
Differences between the Canadian and British Models: Edit
As mentioned before, the early-type Canadian Light AG Respirator respirators are identical to the British Light Anti-Gas Respirator Mk. II and, as such, can be hard to tell apart. As mentioned above, Canadian Canadian Light AG Respirators were made by Dominion or V.M.C. rubber companies. This should be a fairly straight forward way to tell the two apart. Aside from this, Canadian Canadian Light AG Respirators should feature the Canadian version of the Broad Arrow (same as the standard Broad Arrow but placed inside a "C").
The L3/C faceblank is also extremely similar to the early L1 faceblank used on the Mk. I Light Anti-Gas Respirator and later variants which needed to be made to offer small or large sizes to those who couldn't fit an L2 faceblank. The similarities are in that both feature a triangle boss between the eyepieces and both have a single vertical support beam inside the mask. These masks, aside from reading L1 or L3/C inside, can be told apart by the rubber thickness. The L1 was undesirably thick whereas the improvement that came with the L3/C faceblank was the thinnest and flexibility of the rubber, allowing for a better face-seal.
Canadian Light Mk. II:
The carrier used since 1942 with the Canadian Light AG Respirator Respirator was known as the Light II, however, it was not an exact copy of the British Light II and was something of an amalgamation of the Light I and Light II Carriers. For context, the Light I can be identified by its use of a 3/4 inch thick canvas pull-tab and a wavey-shaped loop. The Light II, on the other hand, features a full inch webbing pull-tab, sometimes with a metal cap riveted to the end, with a rectangular loop.
The Canadian Light II uses a webbing pull-tab, much like the British Light II, however, it cuts it at 3/4 of an inch and features the same loop as seen on the Light I Carrier. The Canadian carrier can also be distinguished by its use of a tan colour for the body and green for the side faces of the lid. This, to an extent, is not unlike the Tropical variant of the Australian Light II carrier used with the ALAG.
Here is an example of the British Light I, II and the Canadian Light II Carriers for reference.
Containers & Sealing Plugs Edit
Canadian Container, Light Mk. II & Canadian Plugs, Sealing Mk. I:
The Canadians strayed from the British standards with both the Container and its Sealing Plugs. Much like the Australians, Canada seemingly skipped the flawed Light Container Mk. I and IA designs as the British had moved to the Mk. II Container by 1942, possibly late 1941 which meant that their Containers, despite being their first Light Container, were still named Mk. IIs as they were following the same standards as the British Mk. IIs.
At a glance, there are a variety of differences between the two containers. Firstly, the Canadian container uses a lighter and more stone-like shade of grey paint over the body of container and also uses a green got as opposed to a magnolia dot to mark the use of copper-impregnated "Special Charcoal". The container casing also features ribbing on the bottom plate, much like the American Canadian Light AG Respirator Container and the Canadian C3 filters (please clarify the C3 filter designation, someone).
In terms of contents, little is known about the filling besides the fact that it copies the British standard of two parts wool for the particle filter with the larger section filled with charcoal, however, it is unclear whether or not the Canadians used an 80% to 20% resin-wool to asbestos mix or whether they copied the British and used 100% resin-wool without the need for asbestos due to the resin-wool being extremely effective.
As for the sealing plugs, the difference is again, fairly easy to spot. Firstly, the string holding the two pieces together is much higher quality and more like a shoe-lace than the thin piece of canvas holding the two plugs together on the British version. Secondly, the plugs themselves were made of rubber as opposed to cork. Whilst this may seem like an advantage, you must consider the intended purpose of the sealing plugs. The plugs were never intended to protect against full submersion but were designed to protect the container from damp haversacks and rain.
One plug sits inside the inlet hole at the bottom of the container whilst the other sits inside on top of the inlet valve inside the facepiece. The smaller of the two corks does, in fact, fit fairly tight into the container but the larger of the two fits fairly loosely over the inlet valve. If the mask was to become submerged, neither the rubber nor the cork would stay in position and would likely float away, leaving the inlet valve exposed. The water would easily work its way around the valve and flood the container. However, with the intention being to protect the container from rain, the cork would actually soak up the water whereas the rubber, being waterproof, might have just caused the droplets to run down into the crack between the plug and the container mount causing a puddle to formulate above the inlet valve which, of course, would eventually seep into the container.
Eyeshields & Ointment Edit
Eyeshields, Anti-Gas Mk. II & Ointment, Anti-Gas CWL/5:
As with British kits, a pack of Anti-Gas Eyeshields was packed into the back pocket of the Light II Carrier. Whilst the British typically seemed to pack Mk. I or Mk. III Eyeshields in Light Anti-Gas Respirator kits, the Canadians seemingly used Mk. II Eyeshields most commonly. The Mk. II Eyeshields reduced the design of the Mk. I Eyeshields by removing the fabric tape lining along the outside of the cellophane.
Canadian packs of Eyeshields can be identified by the manufacturer M.W.S Ltd. Whilst it is unclear if any other company manufactured the Eyeshields, M.W.S Ltd. is the only company that has been identified thus far. Aside from this, the Canadian Eyeshields, or at least the container, can be identified by the Canadian version of the Broad Arrow.
As for the Ointment, a 1944 document held at the Kew Archives mentions the designation CWL/1. However, based on examples in my own collection and in the collection of the unknown War Relics user (as seen above), it is clear that Canada merely used the same types of Ointment as Britain, however, it is possible that the Ointment itself was designated under another name. As of now, examples of Canadian Ointment No. 2 have been found, identifiable by the Canadian Broad Arrow and, the type which would have been used with the Canadian Light AG Respirator, the Canadian No. 5 Ointment, identified by the "(Canadian)" print next to the name.
Anti-Dimming Cloth Edit
Outfit, Anti-Dimming Mk. VI:
Made by the American Can Company, tins of Outfit, Anti-Dimming No. VI were also packed in the Canadian Light AG Respirator kits, at least during the war. Compared to the British, the tins, themselves, were identical besides the "CANCO" stamp. The cloth was unmarked, unlike the British version, but was made of the same material and impregnated with the same Anti-Dimming Oil. Examples found in good condition will typically have a slight damp feel about them. An example like this has not yet been found in Britain so there is a possibility there was some variation in materials/oil.
Anti-Gas Booklet Edit
Brief Notes on War Gases and Spray:
Unlike the small, illustrated British Anti-Gas Booklet, the Canadian version was actually more of a leaflet folded up. There were no illustrations and merely simple written instructions on how to carry out various tasks including the well known "COECDO" (Coe - eck - doe) decontamination process.
Additional Kit Contents Edit
Much like the British Kits, Canadian Canadian Light AG Respirator kits were issued with a 2 1/2oz handful of cotton waste. It can be confirmed from the picture at the top of this section that all of the above contents were, in fact, part of the standard wartime kits. However, what is interesting is that a 1944 facepiece is packed with the earlier-type No. 5 Ointment. Perhaps Canada did not upgrade to the No. 6 or No. 6 Tropical type, at least during the war.
- Examples from the collections of Baroque4Days, Flechette Gas Masks, GasMasksUK, GasMaskLexikon and Alexandre Hubert (GMCC)
- Regulations for Army Ordnance Services Part 8: Respirators, Anti-Gas, Light (Command of the Army Council)