Sunday, February 03, 2008

Friday 28th January 1938

Tonight the Anti-Gas class had a very interesting experience – the Chamber Test. A Home Office van arrived. We donned our masks. The van was flooded with C.A.P. (Chloracetophenone), a tear gas. In we went and stood there whilst a little glass tube was broken on a hot plate, giving off an “articulate cloud”. We were in gas, alright! In a few seconds my neck, between the collar and the gas mask was tingling. Soon it was burning! However breathing was normal, eyes and nose were unaffected. (“The respirator affords complete protection.”)

We went out into the open again, put our masks away. We were ordered to enter the van, touch the farther wall and return – no masks!
I laughed as, peering through the window, I saw the others enter one by one. How hastily they shambled across the seemingly harmless room. Like some awkward relay race. As I entered something very hot hit me across the eyes. Curious sensation. Rather like the time when I got some alcohol in the eye, at the Works. A masked policeman took my arm as I groped for the door.

Afterwards another fellar and myself volunteered to enter the chamber and put our masks on when inside. Seven seconds? We both had our masks on in three; it seemed an instaneous movement! (The joke is that I’m usually very slow at donning a mask. All thumbs.) The instructor assured us that we had failed, that there were tears in our eyes. Nevertheless we felt alright. I moved to the window where there were several faces and stuck up a triumphant thumb.


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