It was difficult to breathe when wearing a gas mask. When you breathed in the air it was sucked through the filter to take out the gas. When you breathed out the whole mask was pushed away from the face to let the air out.
In school children had to take regular gas drills.Having drills was a daily feature of life at school. The government was worried that the Germans would drop poison gas on the towns and cities. Even before the war began, most Scottish families had gas masks. Everyone was trained how to put on the gas mask as quickly as possible. Children had to carry them to school every day or risk being punished by the teacher. Children were instructed to keep the gas mask with them at all times and have them in the luggage bag.
To warn people that there was a gas about, the air raid warnings would sound the gas rattle and to tell people that it was all clear they would ring a bell. Everyone in Britain was given a gas mask in a cardboard box to protect them from gas bombs which could be dropped during air raids. No gas was ever used against the British.
By September 1939 there was 38 million gas masks given out in Britain. The mustard gas was the most dangerous chemical used during World War 2. The mustard gas could not be smelt easily and it took 12 hours to take effect. It was that powerful that only small amounts of it were added to weapons like high explosive shells.
Willie in Goodnight Mr Tom.
Willie did not wear a gas mask because the gas attacks did not come to the country side, They only went to the Anderson Shelter for protection when there was an Air Raid attack.