The Light Anti-Gas Respirator, officially named the "Respirator, Anti-Gas, Light", was the respirator, originally designed due to a 1941 request, that ended up being the foundation of British Respirators until the 1970s, with service life pushing further beyond that. The Light AG Respirator Mk I, perhaps also the Mk. II, was first issued in 1942 to select units in North Africa. After some time, the Mk. IA variant was introduced and later, the well known Mk. IIA, serving as the first standard-issue Lightweight Assault Respirator in the British Army and World, issued en masse by 1943. At this time, the old-spec Mk. IIs went to Canada for their Canadian Light Anti-Gas Respirators and the IIA became the base of the Australian Light Anti-Gas Respirator. Following the war, the IIA, and sometimes other models, even continued it's service life with both the Danish Armed Forces, following the war, in the form of the M/45E and later with their Civilforsvar under the designation "M/45 Beskyttelsesmaske".

All-in-all, the Light Anti-Gas Respirator, beginning its journey as a rumoured 1938 concept, coming to life in 1941 and serving Britain seemingly up to the 1990s, is a remarkably adaptable design that has proven itself through generations.

Disclaimer: It has been discovered in a Porton Down report on Asbestos use in wartime respirator containers that the Light Anti-Gas Respirator "Light Container" DID NOT contain asbestos.[1]

If you use this information, please credit the user/collector Baroque4Days. This information was unknown until B4D's re-write.

Facepiece Designations[edit | edit source]

The Light, Anti-Gas Respirator series is one of obscurity due to the little remaining information on the subject matter. However, from official documentation, it can be assumed that there were initially 5 models of the LAG before the end of the war and 2 more after the war (see the successor post).

The designation of the mask can be found painted in white under the chin, however, there are cases where this may have faded over time, making identification impossible. To help with this, the following details explain the components found on each model of respirator.

Facepiece

Designation

Mask Valve Holder Harness Sizes
Mk. I L1 L1 L1 & L2 Small, Normal, Large
Mk. IA L1 L2 L1 & L2 Small, Normal, Large
Mk. II L2 L1 L1 & L2 Normal
Mk. II Derm L2 L1 L2 Normal
Mk. IIA L2 L2 L1 & L2 Normal
Mk. IIA Derm L2 L2 L2 Normal
Mk. III L1 L3 L1 & L2 Small, Normal, Large
Mk. IIIA L2 L3 L1 & L2 Normal
Mk. IIIA Derm L2 L3 L2 Normal
Mk. IV L3 L2 L1 & L2 S, N, L
Mk. IV L.H. L3 L2 L1 & L2 S, N, L
Mk. IV Derm L3 L2 L2 S, N, L
Mk. IV L.H Derm L3 L2 L2 S, N, L
Mk. V L3 L3 L1 & L2 S, N, L
Mk. V L.H. L3 L3 L1 & L2 S, N, L
Mk. V Derm L3 L3 L2 S, N, L
Mk. V L.H. Derm L3 L3 L2 S, N, L

Designations of masks can be found printed under the chin unless faded or never issued

Notes:

  • Masks marked "DERM" used special rubber blends for those who suffered from various skin conditions. This likely is also the reason the L1 harnesses were not used due to the rubber content on them.
  • Masks marked "L.H." had right-mounted filter ports for left-handed shooters
  • Though not marked, some respirators stamped with a red dot on the supporting fabric are made from a synthetic rubber as opposed to the standard black rubber.

Components[edit | edit source]

Mask (faceblank)[edit | edit source]

The primary component of any mask is the faceblank (designated "mask" in Great Britain). There were three masks issued during the war, one of which carried on its service until the 60s, perhaps even 70s. These masks are designated L1, L2 & L3. Each can be identified by the features below or by the designation which can be found bossed into the rubber inside the mask where the nose would be.

L1 Mask - 1942:[edit | edit source]

L1 Mask on a LAG Mk. IA

The L1 mask bears most resemblance to the British Civilian Duty Respirator in that it is constructor from thick-cut rubber and features a triangle-shaped boss on the nose which would have served as a mount for the flutter valve of the Civilian Duty Respirator. This mask features a single support beam inside the mask located above and between the eye-pieces. These masks were made in small, normal and large sizes and were featured in masks Mk. I, IA & III.

L2 Mask - 1942:[edit | edit source]

L2 Mask on a LAG Mk. IIIA

The L2 mask features a flat-nose and thinner-cut rubber, more-so like the Mk. V Anti-Gas, Respirator (GSR). These masks were made only in normal sizes which is why the L1 mask continued service for a while until the L3 faceblank began to replace them. The L2 also varies from the L1 in that it features two supporting beams at the top of the mask's interior.

These masks are the most common as the majority of Danish M/45E export masks used these masks. They can be found used on Respirators Mk. II, IIA, IIIA and the "DERM" variants of these.

L3 Mask - 1943:[edit | edit source]

L3 Mask on a LAG Mk. V (using synthetic rubber)

The L3 mask mostly resembles the L2 in that it features the flat "GSR-Type" nose and similar thickness in the rubber cut, however, the L3 mask was superior in that the rubber was now much more flexible and thus allowed for a better seal. These masks also feature some further improvements in that they use both a canvas reinforcement and an extra horizontal support bar around the nose area to keep the mask in better shape despite the increased flexibility. The L3 was also available in small, medium and large, simply marked with the letters S, N and L, rendering the L1 obsolete.

This mask was favoured so much that the British Armed Forces continued to use it up until Service Respirator No. 6 transition. The L3 mask can be found on Respirators, Anti-Gas, Light Mk. IV and V, however, it is worth noting that a slightly refined variant of the L3 mask, seemingly referred to as the L3-4 or L3/4, was used on Respirators Mk. 6 and 7 after the war. The LAG Mk. IV and V Respirators and their variants were the only ones known to have used these masks during the wartime by 1944. The earliest found example is dated April 1944 yet documents suggest these masks began production as early as April 1943.

LAG L3 Faceblank WWII and Post-War Differences.png

Telling the WWII Period L3 Mask apart from the Post-War "L3-4" can be difficult to the untrained eye due to the shapes described in technical manuals being identical, such as the additional horizontal support beam, support fabric between the lenses, the use of single letter-size designations, etc. However, there are some minor differences which can be used to identify between the two (also see the image for colour references below). The differences are as follows:

  • Red: The wartime L3 simply says "L3" between the lenses whereas the post-war variants are labelled "L3" with a line underneath and a "4" beneath the line.
  • Blue: The Support fabric on wartime L3 masks is slightly visible and is completely coated on post-war masks.
  • Green: The two vertical support beams were much more "squared" in the wartime mask and were moulded much smoother, almost rounded, post-war.
  • Aside from this, there is a clear difference in rubber quality with the wartime masks feeling somewhat more firm, however, this could differ between manufacturer. Also, bear in mind that the above example is synthetic rubber.
  • Underneath the chin, wartime masks should be marked "Mk. IV", "Mk. 4", "Mk. V" or "Mk. 5" whereas post-war masks will be marked "GD" + a date and then either the designation "Mk. 6 or Mk. 7".

Rubber Type[edit | edit source]

The rubber type refers to the composition of the rubber or synthetic rubber used during the making of the masks. There were three variants during the war, the standard black rubber, the synthetic and the "DERM" blend. These three were used on all three mask variants. The majority of masks use the typical black rubber however, due to some soldiers experiencing dermatitis from the rubber, specialised masks were made from a brown-ish coloured rubber marked "DERM".

Special Synthetic Blend:

Red marking indicating the use of Synthetic Rubber on a LAG Mk. V

Whilst most Light Anti-Gas Respirators were composed of Black Rubber or, of course, the special variant for dermatitis, some were actually made of an unnamed synthetic rubber (to be tested). Variants using this special blend would be marked with a red dot on the support fabric of the mask. This would typically be located around the six harness connection sites around the mask, however, it is documented that some L3 masks would have the red dot stamped into the support fabric located between the eyepieces.

Holder, Valve, Assembly & Valve, Outlet[edit | edit source]

One of the largest misconceptions about the Light Anti-Gas series was that the Valve Holder was the identifying part of the mask. Whilst they do somewhat sync up, there are examples of Mk. I masks with L2 Valve Holders and Mk. II masks with L1 Valve Holders. There were, as is commonly known, only three types of Valve Holder but there were also two types of Outlet Valve. The first outlet valve was used in the L1 and L2 Valve Holders. The L1 Outlet Valve was comprised of rubber whilst its counterpart, the L2 Outlet Valve, was made of a translucent material of some kind. This type was used in the L3 Valve Holders.

L1 Valve Holder - 1941 Design:[edit | edit source]

L1 Valve Holder on a Canadian Light AG Respirator (no British example yet acquired)

The L1 Valve Holder was initially designed in 1941 and put to use by 1942. It can be found on Mks. I and II Light Anti-Gas Respirators and also the two Canadian Light Anti-Gas Respirators. The British type can be identified by the marking "L1" around the drainage tract whereas the Canadian type will state the manufacturer (such as C.C.C.) and the year of manufacture. The L1 Valve Holder itself can be identified by the thin drainage tracket, crater and then mound in the centre of this crater.

The L1 Valve Holder Assembly consists of the L1 Valve Holder Body (front-plate) and Seating (back-plate), the L1 Outlet Valve and the Checkplate to keep the valve in position.

L2 Valve Holder - 1942 Design:[edit | edit source]

L2 Valve Holder on a Light AG Respirator Mk. IA

The L2 Valve Holder was designed to replace the L1 Valve Holder, turning facepieces designated Mks. I and II into Mks. IA and IIA, later Mk. IV when the "mask", or "faceblank" was further improved in 1943. The L2 Valve Holder can be identified by the thick drainage tract, stamped with "L2", the initials of the manufacturer and the date, and by the lack of mound in the crater area.

The L2, when compared to the L1, is essentially the same, however, the L2 Valve Holder enjoys a much more "flat" construction due to the shape of the Body whereas the Seating and even Checkplate of the L1 are a little more dynamic in shape. In short, the L2 was a general simplification with likely no performance enhancement despite, perhaps, easier alignment for the No. 7 Microphone. The L2 Valve Holder Assembly consists of the L2 Valve Holder Front and Back Plates, the L1 Outlet Valve and a metal diaphragm, slightly flatter than that of the L1, to keep the valve in position.

L1 & L2 Valve Holders Disassembled and Compared

Here is an image comparing the internals of the L1 and L2 Valve Holders. From left to right, you have the Body, the Checkplate, the L1 Outlet Valve (top one is only grey as it is Canadian but would be tan too), and the Seating.

Disclaimer: As you can see, the Valve Holders have been destroyed to bring you this comparison photo. Please do not damage any more examples as this is all you will ever find inside an L1 or L2 Valve Holder.

L3 Valve Holder - 1943 Design:[edit | edit source]

L3 Valve Holder on a LAG Mk. IIIA

Whilst the L1 and L2 Valve Holders were designed to be little more than their namesake, Light, the L3 went above and beyond and implemented a speech transmitter unit, an upgraded outlet valve and, supposedly, options to help support advanced communications equipment, such as the Tannoy Loudspeaking Apparatus (ALS) of the era.

One way in which the LAGR influenced the design of the S6

The L3 Valve Holder was introduced in 1943 and would see service with the Mk. III and IIIA, then later the Mk. V Light AG Respirators. Following the war, this Valve Holder would continue to be used with Mks. 6 and 7 facepieces, possibly under the new name L5 Mk. 1. The design even influenced the S6 NBC Respirator heavily in regards to the construction and shape of the speech transmitter unit, the front cover of the speech transmitter unit and even the method of exhalation. In many ways, the outlet valve construction of the S6 is nothing more than a rubber-covered and slightly shrunken L3 Valve Holder.

L3 Valve Holder broken down with both speech transmitter types shown (from left to right, front plate, ring, L2 Outlet Valve & Speech Transmitters

In terms of construction, the L3 Valve Holder is built from a speech transmission unit (two types), the L2 Outlet Valve, a metal ring to suspend the Valve, much like the metal diaphragm did in the L1 and L2, and, of course, the L3 Valve Holder plate, itself. Unlike the L1 and L2 Valve Holders, the L3 can be completely disassembled by way of unscrewing the speech transmitter unit from the front plate and gently easing out the valve and ring.

L1 Mk. I & L2 Mk. I Speech Transmitters side by side

As mentioned before, there were two types of diaphragm inserts. The original type, though unconfirmed, is assumed to have been designated L1 Mk. I with the latter type, and the type seen post-war, is confirmed to have been designated L2 Mk. I. The L1 Mk. I and L2 Mk. I speech transmitter units vary in only one respect, the L2 Mk. I has a grille on front, better protecting the plastic diaphragm disk. It is unclear why the original type, and by far the most popular type of the war, was without this protection. Both types were available during the war, however, very few examples are seen with the improved speech transmitter, regardless, both do feature the same diaphragm disk and function just as well as each other.

Harness[edit | edit source]

Comparison between the LAG L1 and L2 harnesses based on the earlier No. 4 Mk. 3 and No. 4 Mk. 2 harnesses

There were two harnesses used on Light Anti-Gas Respirators during the war, the L1 and L2. These two harnesses are often confused with the No. 4 Mk. III and No. 4 Mk. II harnesses, used earlier in the war and on the homefront. The difference between the two similar-looking duos is that the L models used a slightly different strap material to the No. 4s seen on the Civilian Duty and General Service Respirators, making them Lighter.

The L1 harness features a complex weave of straps through a rubberised back-plate. The L2, on the other hand, simplifies the design by simply connecting adjustable straps to a hexagonal head-pad. Both were used on Respirators, Anti-Gas Light Mk. I all through to Mk. V. The L1s were never used on "DERM" masks likely due to the fact that the rubber on the head-pad could have also caused irritation when compared to the L2's canvas.

Kit Contents[edit | edit source]

The Light Anti-Gas Respirator kit is comprised of the Respirator Facepiece and Light Container, 1 pair of Sealing Plugs, 1 Tin of Anti-Gas Ointment, 1 Carton of Anti-Gas Eyeshields, 1 Anti-Dimming Cloth, 1 Cleaning Cloth and 1 bundle of Cotton Waste weighing roughly 1 oz. This kit is stored in Light Respirator Haversacks Mk. I or Mk. II.

It is also listed on a soldier's Anti-Gas Inspection Report that the soldier would also have been issued with an additional tin of No. 5 Ointment, two identity disks, an Anti-Gas booklet (shown in the image for this section), "Detectors, Gas, Ground" and the Inspection Report itself. In the report, soldiers are instructed to carry both the booklet and report on them in the haversack at all times.

There has been a misconception that the two side pockets were both used to store Ointment. This, however, was not the case, as explained in the Gas Training Manual of either 1942 or 1943.

Introductory Examples[edit | edit source]

Contents of an early Airborne-issue (1942 - Early 43) kit as follows:

Mk. IA Light Anti-Gas Respirator dated 1942 with a1942 to early 1943 kit

  • Respirator, Anti-Gas, Light Mk. I, II or IA Facepiece (Mk. IA photographed)
  • Container, Light Mk. I & Plugs, Sealing Mk. I (not photographed)
  • Outfit, Anti-Dimming Mk. VI (Impregnated Cloth)
  • Eyeshields, Anti-Gas Mk. II
  • 1oz Waste, Cotton (not photographed)
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Haversack, Respirator, Light, No. L1 Mk. I or L1 Mk. II

Contents of a standard service (Late 1942 - 44) kit as follows:

Mk. IIA Light Anti-Gas Respirator dated 1944 with a Late 1942 to 1944 kit

  • Respirator, Anti-Gas, Light Mk. IIA Facepiece (Mk. IA for small/large heads)
  • Container, Light Mk. II & Plugs, Sealing Mk. I
  • Outfit, Anti-Dimming Mk. VI (Impregnated Cloth)
  • Ointment, Anti-Gas No. 5 (rarely No. 3)
  • Eyeshields, Anti-Gas Mk. II
  • 1oz Waste, Cotton
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Haversack, Respirator, Light, No. L1 Mk. I or L1 Mk. II

Contents of an improved comms (1943 - 45) kit as follows:

Mk. IIIA Light Anti-Gas Respirator dated 1944 with a 1943 to 1945 kit

  • Respirator, Anti-Gas, Light Mk. IIIA Facepiece (Mk. III for small/large heads)
  • Container, Light Mk. II & Plugs, Sealing Mk. I
  • Outfit, Anti-Dimming Mk. VI (Impregnated Cloth)
  • Ointment, Anti-Gas, No. 5 or 6 (No. 6 photographed)
  • Mk. III Eyeshields, Anti-Gas
  • 1oz Waste, Cotton
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Haversack, Respirator, Light, No. L1 Mk. II

Contents of a late-production, often Navy issue (1944-45), kit as follows:

Mk. V Light Anti-Gas Respirator dated 1944 with a 1944 to 1945 (pre-P44) kit

  • Respirator, Anti-Gas Light Mk. V Facepiece (Mk. IV for legacy comms)
  • Container, Light Mk. II & Plugs, Sealing Mk. I
  • Outfit, Anti-Dimming Mk. VI (Impregnated Cloth)
  • Ointment, Anti-Gas No. 6
  • Mk. III Eyeshields, Anti-Gas
  • 1oz Waste, Cotton
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Haversack, Respirator, Light, No. L1 Mk. II

Contents of a P44 "Jungle Green" (1944 - late 40s) kit as follows:

Mk. IIIA Light Anti-Gas Respirator dated 1944 with a 1945+ P44-issue kit

  • Respirator, Anti-Gas Light Mk. IIIA Facepiece (IV & V likely also issued)
  • Container, Light Mk. II & Plugs, Sealing Mk. I
  • Outfit, Anti-Dimming Mk. VI (Impregnated Cloth)
  • Ointment, Anti-Gas No. 6 - Tropical
  • Mk. III Eyeshields, Anti-Gas
  • 1oz Waste, Cotton (not photographed)
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Haversack, Respirator, Light, No. L1 Mk. II "Jungle Green" (pre-P44)

Container, Light[edit | edit source]

The Light Container included is comprised of three layers, one being charcoal and the other two being either fully resin-impregnated wool or fabric or, they would contain one of each. It is worth noting that NO Light Container contained Asbestos. When not in use, two pieces of cork, designated Plugs, Sealing Mk. I, attached by fabric, would be placed in the hole at the bottom of the filter and the other would sit inside the mask in the intake-area to help prevent water entering the filter whilst in transit.

There were two types of container used on the LAGs during the war, the Light Container Mk. I and Mk. II. Both containers should have L1/L2, No. 1/2 or Light I/II written or engraved on/into the top and base of the container. The containers do vary a little in shape.

What made the Light Container special, aside from the obvious change in direction of respirator design, was its use of the new filter material, resin-impregnated wool as opposed to asbestos-impregnated wool. This new mix was developed during the arsine scare as superior particulate filtration was believed to have been a good counter measure to the threat alongside lime permanganate.

Light Container Mk. I

Light Container Mk. I Diagram

The Mk. I Light Container was designed very early on and likely only saw very limited use due to the inefficiency of the design. The container is made up of two separate containers known as Container No. 1 and Container No. 1.A. These two parts are then taped together, possibly secured by some kind of wiring, and issued in such state.

Container No. 1 is the larger half of the body and the top section with the 60mm thread also attached to it. Inside, between metal diaphragms, fabric pads and cotton pads, the container is filled with the charcoal mix to filter out gases and vapours. Container No. I.A. is the particulate filter and is filled with metal diaphragms, fabric pads and the resin-wool filter material.

Note: Mk. I Light Containers are incredibly rare today. One example may exist at the US Military Base, Fort Leonard Wood. This was identified by Baroque4Days but, this does remain, as of September 2020 the only known POTENTIAL example. There has been a commision for a 3D Printed model which may be able to be used to help spread awareness of the existence of this filter.

Light Container Mk. II

Light Containers Mk. II

It must have become clear quickly that the use of tape on a mask designed primarily to be used by those launching themselves out of planes into enemy terriroty, where combat risk was likely to be very high, was not fit for purpose. The solution was to build a solid single piece body, fill it, and finally close it with an end cap.

The contents of the filter is exactly the same as the Mk. I and the general layout of the filter contents remains unchanged. The Mk. II can be identified, aside from the lack of tape, by a lip at the base of the container, meaning the plate on the bottom would sit recessed inside the body.

Light Container Contents from bottom to top:

  1. Either the No. I.A. Container body (L Mk. I) or the Mk. II's back plate (L Mk. II)
  2. Diaphragm
  3. Pad, Fabric
  4. Filter (resin-impregnated wool)
  5. Pad, Fabric
  6. Diaphragm
  7. Pads, Fabric & Cotton
  8. Charcoal
  9. Pads, Fabric & Cotton
  10. Diaphragm
  11. Either No. I. Canister (L Mk. I) or the Mk. II's No. II. Canister (L Mk. II)

Haversack, Respirator, Light[edit | edit source]

Light Haversacks Mk. I & II

The Light Anti-Gas Respirator was issued with a new haversack known as the Light Haversack. The Haversack came in two variants, the L1 Mk. I and the L1 Mk. II. The Haversack featured two outer pockets for two tins of No. 5 Ointment, Anti-Gas, though rarely, you may find tins of No. 3 Ointment inside instead. Inside the haversack is a small slot to hold a card envelope full of 6 Anti-Gas Eyeshields. To the bottom of the haversack, a small pouch and loop can be seen which hold the Outfit, Anti-Dimming Mk VI and the strap when the mask was mounted on webbing (typically to the left of the soldier). The less common L1 Mk. I Light Haversack varies from the L1 Mk. II in a few ways. The most notable is that the webbing-made tab on the L1 Mk. II haversack was made of canvas on the L1 Mk. I and also a little thinner. The L1 Mk. I also featured a 3/4 inch loop for the tab to fit through which is smaller than the L1 Mk. II's 1-inch loop.

Comparison between the Light L1 Mk. I, Light L1 Mk. II, Light L1 Mk. II (green strap) & Light L1 Mk. II "Jungle Green" Haversacks

Variations of the Light Haversack exist. The most well-known variant of the L1 Mk. II Haversack is the "Jungle-Green" version, designed for use with the P44 Webbing of matching colour. Though it is unclear whether or not this carrier was used during the war, P44 webbing, and supposedly this haversack, were seen in use during the 1948 Malayan Emergency. The only other British variant is identical to the standard L1 Mk. II Haversack but varies in that it has a pale-green strap as opposed to the typical browned-colour.

Other examples found will typically either be Australian (identified by the use of a lift-the-dot system as opposed to a loop and quick release tab), Canadian (typically the same as British but may have variants - see manufacturer for identification) or Post-War (identified by later dates, larger rings, etc.

The standard L1 Mk. II Haversacks vary in one final way, the quick release tab. Some L1 Mk. II Haversacks have metal clips riveted to the base of the quick release tab but this is not always the case. Some use brass whilst others blacken the metal. These three variants can be seen in the photograph.

In January 1945, a new design was created known as the L2 Mk. I but it never saw service. This design is most likely the design that can be seen with the brighter-coloured Light Haversacks produced in the 1950s, some being marked "LIGHT MK. II / I" which may mean L2 Mk. I, but this is unconfirmed. As this design was not released, all haversacks produced following this date were made with rot proof threading to help aid troops in tropical climates.

Additional Kit[edit | edit source]

Aside from the Facepiece, Container and Haversack, the Light Anti-Gas Respirator was issued with a tin of 8 tubes of Anti-Gas Ointment, a Mk. VI Anti-Dimming Outfit Cloth, a Cleaning Cloth and 1oz of Cotton Waste.

At first, the 1941-type No. 3 and 1942-type No. 5 Anti-Gas Ointments were used, however, later into the war, No. 6 tins and even Tropical Variants of No. 6 were used from 1944. The Ointment would be found inside the right pocket of the haversack with the cotton waste bundle, included to soak up droplets on skin and equipment, stored opposite.

The Anti-Dimming outfit would be stored inside a small gold-coloured tin and inserted inside the pocket at the bottom of the haversack. The cleaning cloth would then be folded to an appropriate size and stored on top of this, almost serving as a cushion for the respirator facepiece.

Finally, an Anti-Gas Booklet would be stored inside the haversack to give soldiers some basic reminders on how to perform the various parts of Gas Drill described in the Gas Training booklet.

History and Use[edit | edit source]

Manufacture & Contracts[edit | edit source]

With about 5.5 million produced, costing 34 pence a piece, the Light Anti-Gas Respirator production during the war cost Britain some £1.7 million.

Mask (Faceblank) Manufacture:[edit | edit source]

Whilst the design of the Light Anti-Gas Respirator was down to the CDES, the respirator was, of course, produced by private companies. There were a total of nine companies which participated in the manufacture of L1, L2 and L3 masks (faceblanks) during and following the war. These companies were Avon India Rubber Co, John Bull Rubber Co, British Tyre & Rubber Co (a B. F. Goodrich subsidiary), Dunlop Rubber Co, Leyland & Birmingham Rubber Co, Stepney Tyre & Rubber Co (a subsidiary of British Tyre and Rubber), P. B. Cow & Co, Ferguson Shiers & Co and Universal Rubber Paviors Ltd.

Of all the nine rubber producers commissioned to create masks for the Light Anti-Gas Respirators, a mere two survive today. Avon India Rubber Company, as you know, became Avon Rubber p. l. c, with their current Respirators being produced by Avon Protection, producing masks such as the FM12, M50 and M53A1. The other surviving company is Dunlop Rubber, which now focuses on the production of sporting goods, including basketballs, golf club and tennis racket grips and also on rubber boots.

During the war, there were 12,682,442‬ masks requested and a total of 11,325,481 masks made. Of these, 1,246,340 were L1 Masks (Mk. I, IA & III), 6,972,190 were L2 Masks (Mk. II, IIA & IIIA) and 3,106,951 were L3 Masks (Mk. IV & V).

Company L1 Mask L2 Mask L3 Mask TOTAL
Avon India Rubber Co. - AVON 612,140 4,000,942 911,670 5,524,752
British Tyre & Rubber Co. - BTR 115,000 410,000 240,070 765,070
Dunlop Rubber Co. - DRCO 209,200 285,525 104,000 598,725
Ferguson Shiers & Co. - FS&C 78,000 78,000 156,000
John Bull Rubber Co. - JBR 180,000 180,000
Leyland & Birmingham Rubber Co. - L&BR 520,040 1,336,300 1,856,340
P. B. Cow & Co. - P.B.C & Co. 27,000 27,000
Stepney Tyre & Rubber Co. - STR 490,000 220,000 710,000
Universal Rubber Paviors Ltd. - U.R.P. 130,000 902,158 189,911 1,222,069
TOTAL 1,246,340 6,972,190 3,106,951 11,325,481

It is important to note the following:

- 412 of the Avon L2 Masks were considered sub-standard but are included in the total above

- One Dunlop Rubber L2 Order suggested 100,000 were produced but this was later corrected to 37,325 yet the original 100,000 was not crossed out. This table assumes 37,325 to be correct and has not included this 100,000.

- One URP order stylised "3/2,00" for requested and "3/2000" for received. It is unclear whether this meant 3 batches of 2,000, or 200, or whether the total was forgotten and it was unclear then whether it was 2,000 or 3,000. This table assumes a single 2,000 mask order.

- Due to the cursive writing style on the log, some unclear numbers were matched against clearer examples. This means that there will likely be some mistakes here but this is it based on my reading of the production request log.

Valve Holder Manufacture:[edit | edit source]

- EL

- MB

Undergoing research (Baroque4Days)

Eyepiece Manufacture:[edit | edit source]

- WHB

- HHS

Undergoing research (Baroque4Days)

Head-Harness Manufacture:[edit | edit source]

- W & G

Undergoing research (Baroque4Days)

Container Manufacturer:[edit | edit source]

- BWM

- MB

Undergoing research (Baroque4Days)

Facepiece Assembly:[edit | edit source]

Undergoing research (Baroque4Days)

- 5.5m made

- 1.7m total cost

- 0.34 cost each

Light Respirator Drill[edit | edit source]

Soldiers were issued a booklet dated 17th June 1942 titled "Gas Training". This booklet detailed basic gas procedure to the man in regards to the General Service Respirator. Of course, with the mass issue of the Light Anti-Gas Respirator, an addendum was created, dated July 1943, to be cut out and stuck into various parts of the booklet, the largest part added to the end of the booklet and known as Appendix F. With this information, it can be established that very little changed with the Respirator Drill aside from, of course, donning the respirator and procedure on container replacement in the field.

Donning of the Light Respirator[edit | edit source]

The donning procedure of the Light Respirator was somewhat different from that of the General Service Respirator and thus was documented in the addendum.

Replacement of the Light Container[edit | edit source]

After exposure to gas, or when due a routine replacement, the Light Container could be replaced with ease by the man, unlike the GS-Type containers.

  1. Remove the old container by holding the mount in one hand and the container, near the inner end, with the other hand, and unscrew.
  2. Screw in the new container fully home, using the hands as before, first engaging the threads by a slight anti-clockwise motion. Care must be taken not to cross the threads, and to screw the container well home into the rubber washer.

It is noted that container should be unscrewed and firmly screwed back again to ensure that the container does not bind to the rubber washer.

Removal of the Light Respirator[edit | edit source]

Unlike the donning procedure, the method of removing the respirator facepiece remained unchanged from the method employed for the GS Respirator. Regardless, the procedure was as follows:

  1. Take a deep breathe (to fill the lungs with pure air).
  2. Insert two fingers of either hand between the facepiece and cheek.
  3. Sniff gently (with back to the wind).
  4. If gas present, withdraw fingers and breathe out hard (to clear gas from inside the facepiece).

This procedure was only to be carried out after the "gas clear" signal was heard. Even after this signal, individuals were expected to sniff gently to test for gas and quickly reseat the facepiece if present, with the air held in the lungs used to expel gas from the facepiece.

Storage of the Light Respirator[edit | edit source]

To correctly store all of the above items in a Light Mk. I or Mk. II Haversack (fundamentally the same, please read above for more info on the haversacks), follow the instructions below:

  1. Open the two side pockets.
  2. Insert the ball of cotton waste into the pocket on the left (with the quick release tab facing you) and the Ointment into the pocket on the right.
  3. Open the pocket inside the haversack, located at the bottom, and insert the Anti-Dimming Outfit tin, closing the pocket afterwards.
  4. Slot the carton of Anti-Gas Eyeshields into the narrow compartment at the back of the haversack from the inside.
  5. If the straps are removed, fold them neatly and store them inside the loop towards the inner-bottom of the haversack.
  6. Attach the Container to the Respirator Facepiece and insert the Sealing Plugs inside the opening of the Container and inside the mask so that it may rest on top of the Inlet Valve.

Demonstration of a properly stored Light Anti-Gas Respirator Mk. V in the Light Haversack Mk. II

Following this, you may proceed as explained in the LAGR addendum to finally insert the facepiece into the haversack.

  1. Grasp the container in the right hand, valve guard towards the ground, forehead portion of the facepiece towards the body.
  2. Place the headharness inside the facepiece.
  3. Grasp the edge of the facepiece opposite the container in the left hand and bring it as tightly as possible over the container, holding it in position with the thumb of the right hand behind the base of the container and the finger on the edge of the facepiece.
  4. Place the facepiece in the haversack, forehead portion first, the valve guard towards the quick release tab and eyelet.
  5. Fasten the haversack flap.

Please note, this method of storage will permanently damage your masks. Please do not insert the Respirator into the haversack unless the Container is detached.

Carriage of the Light Haversack[edit | edit source]

The Light Haversack, whether Mk. I or II, was designed to be carried in three positions, some models designed specifically to favour one of the three. These three positions were named Belt Position, Chest Position and Slung Position.

Slung Position:

LAG-Slung.jpg

"When slung over the right shoulder, the haversack is on the left side of the body, quick release tab and eyelet away from the body".

This method of carriage is most famous for its use during Operation Neptune, the Normandy Landings and following mission. The slung position was possible to employed without the use of a string, as seen on earlier haversacks, however, it should be noted that on occasion, the Light Haversack Mk. II would be fitted with D-rings, suspended by short canvas tapes, with a tan or green string attached to one so that the man would have been able to secure the carrier to the waist better. It is unclear when/where these variants were issued, however, it is assumed they would have been created for those required to use the Slung or Chest Position.

Chest Position:

LAG-Chest.jpg

"When worn on the chest the sing is shortened until it will just pass over the head, quick release tab and eyelet to the front. The haversack should be high up on the chest, and, if further shortening of the sling is necessary, one of the sides of the sling should be detached and fastened, at a suitable position, to the sling, on the far side of the other slide. The chest position may be found suitable for transport drivers".

As with the slung position, the chest position could be employed without the use of a support string, however, as mentioned above, a limited number of Light Haversacks with a string were created, likely for this purpose. As mentioned in Appendix F, this position was mostly recommended for use with transport drivers and would likely have seen little use outside of this, except, perhaps, when risk of gas attack was high, thus using this position to double as the "alert position" used earlier in the war with the General Service Respirator.

Belt Position:

"When carried on the equipment belt, the haversack is secured at the rear by means of the two double hooks. The ring is detached and held inside the haversack by means of the canvas tape and press button".

This position appears to have been the most commonly employed and can be seen demonstrated by Parachute Regiments from both Britain and Canada. This method was likely the first to be operationally used and was used in this manner following the war.

Repair Producedure for Light Respirators[edit | edit source]

Information on the repair, sentencing, proof, replacement, etc., of Respirators, Anti-Gas, Light is detailed extensively in RAOC Part 8, Sub-Pamphlet No. 2 to Pamphlet No. 26. General instruction prefers that components are repaired before being marked B.L.R. (beyond local repair) and replaced. This was often something which was considered when designing the latter components of the Light AG Respirator. For example, Valve Holders Nos. L1 and L2 are unable to be repaired, however, the 1943 desiged L3 Valve Holder can be fully disassembled and repaired with ease.

This section will be split into components with details on how to replace or repair the parts and with what tools. Note that separate sections on the repair tools cannot be provided at this time due to a general lack of knowledge.

Replacement of Eyepieces[edit | edit source]

The replacement of eyepieces was incredibly crude in comparison to that of other components. Factory fitted eyepieces were attached using a component known as Clip No. 4 with a protective rubber sleve covering the screws. This clip, essentially a hose-clamp, was clearly unavailable at times and so, to replace the eyepieces, the use of two binding wires or wire ties would be employed. The wires would then be covered with 3/8th inch tape.

It is noted that the use of Clips No. 4 should be favoured if available, however, instruction on wire repair was there to prevent reliance on a more complicated component.

Replacement of Headharness[edit | edit source]

To begin with, repair technitions were made aware of the issue with the use of the L1 harness and dermatitis. As you may have noticed in the table at the beginning of this page, none of the DERM facepieces were fitted with L1 harnesses. This is because they have some rubber content which would cause irriation to the skin. The L2 harness is made entirely of canvas, and so it is important to ensure that no DERM facepiece is fitted with an L1 harness. Aside from this, there was generally no preference during the war.

Whilst L1 harnesses were able to be repaired, the documentation clearly states that L2 harnesses must be replaced. As for the L1, information on repair is unfortunately unavailable as it is included only in the entire compilation of Part 8 Pamphlet No. 26, the only one available to read being a Sub-Pamphlet. However, infomation here suggests that the elasticated webbing straps were made in different lengths based on the size of mask they would be fitted to, which would explain why some L1 harnesses, fitted on Large masks, are noticably longer.

Replacement/Repair of Valve Holders[edit | edit source]

Replacement of Container Mounts[edit | edit source]

Replacement of Inlet Valve[edit | edit source]

Replacement of Light Containers[edit | edit source]

Repair of Light Respirator Haversacks[edit | edit source]

Cleaning of Facepieces & Haversacks[edit | edit source]

Decontamination & Disinfection of Facepieces[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Regulations for Army Ordnance Services Part 8: Respirators, Anti-Gas, Light (Command of the Army Council)
  • Gas Training 1942 & 1943 Addendum
  • Advanced Gas Training 1943
  • Photographs of Light Anti-Gas Respirators taken by and from the collection of Baroque4Days (myself)
  • Various posts on the War-Relics Forum
  • Various Document Descriptions from the British National Archives
  • A British Army Contractor Log Book of unknown origin
  • SECRET - OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR: Special Weapons and Types of Warefare Vol 1 - Gas Warfare, compiled by Lieutenant-Colonel D. J. C. Wiseman
  • http://josephs-militaria-and-homefront-collection.co.uk - Info on P44 Web Equipment
  • http://ibasecretariat.org/porton_down_rep_1989.pdf

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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