Saturday, February 02, 2008

Friday 10th December 1937

Rather interested in Gas, so I recently telephoned the Borough Officer for Air Raid Precautions – Colonel Buckland – and subsequently had an interview with him.
Being a Territorial I am, of course ineligible for civilian instruction but he very decently “forgot” this and gave me a vacancy in a Police Anti-Gas Course. Attended this evening, for the first time.

I walked into a long room… At the far end was a raised dais. A Sergeant and a Chief Inspector sat here. Below the dais were three or four rows of desks. I was early. As I approached I noted with satisfaction that each place was provided with foolscap and an ashtray. The other students gradually arrived. Ages ranged from 22-23 to upwards of 50. I later discovered that most of them were Special Constables. During the past few years I’ve taken many courses. (How difficult it seems at first. Success seems impossible; one can never master the subject.) However I’ve never started a course with quite so much interest as now.

During the evening our respirators were fitted. Box type; one draws the air through a charcoal container. Curious sensation, wearing a gas mask. One is conscious of breathing but breathing is not difficult. One looks around at the sinister figures of the others. They look expressionless, have lost their individualities. Then you realise that you are the same! We were given a demonstration of respirator drill by two old hands. From the “slung” position, one should be masked in 10 seconds; from the “alert” in 8 seconds. Most of the fellows in this class do not intend to go overseas. They are learning this to protect themselves as civilians, in case of war.
Civilians!

This year of Grace, 1937!

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