ID number RELAWM04098
Title Gas mask for a German Army messenger dog
Collection Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Maker Unknown (Maker)
Place made Germany
Date made c 1916-1918
Physical description
  • Celluloid
  • Chemicals
  • Fur rabbit
  • Leather
  • Paper
  • White metal
On display Main building: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1916


Gas mask/respirator for a messenger or guard dog, made from ersatz (substitute) fabric, made from coarsely woven paper and fabric blend fibre. The mask has a flat snout like nose, separately inserted pieces for the ears, and large metal rimmed eyepieces attached over a circular leather flange. The central part of the eyepieces originally contained an inner layer of celluloid (now split) and an outer layer of mica (now missing, and already described as being damaged when the mask was collected). The headpiece and end of the snout are machine quilted to give additional stiffness so that the mask will not collapse around the dog's nose. The headpiece, between the eyes and the stop, and the neckpiece, are lined with strips of rabbit fur. The fur lining shows through on each side of the neck where it opens to allow the mask to be fitted over the dog's head. Two ersatz fabric straps with metal buckles close the neckpiece on the left side. Both straps thread through a vertical strip of ersatz fabric machine stitched at intervals to provide five pockets. The straps can be threaded through any of them to suit an individual dog. A short strap with a quick release spring clip, for the attachment of a lead, is sewn to the bottom of the left side neck opening.


This mask was collected by members of 41 Battalion, AIF. Further details are unknown. Although the mask has no gas cannister, it may have been soaked in a chemical such as phenol to give the animal additional protection.