Topic: Drill and Training
Gas War Enacted for Local Militia
Regular Army Men Demonstrate Methods and Equipment Used for protection
Masks made in Canada
Four Types of gases to Be Combated—Senior Military Officers Attend Demonstration
Montreal Gazette, 15 February, 1938
One of the figures from: Unidentified soldiers modelling various Canadian Army uniforms, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1942. [gas uniform, with coat, helmet and respirator]
Photographer: Unknown. MIKAN Number: 3589879
Veterans of the regular army shows beardless members of the non-permanent militia forces last night how a soldier of modern times saves himself from death or serious injury in a gas attack by the enemy. The demonstrations were the inauguration of a course the militia of the district will take in anti-gas methods, and were the first given in the Montreal area.
A senior staff officer revealed to the Gazette last night, in connection with the demonstrations, that gas masks are being manufactured on a large scale in Canada. The officer said he did not know of any civilian anti-gas training course similar to Great Britain's. It is hoped, he said however, that enough masks will be available to provide the militia with enough for training purposes.
The main demonstration was given in the armory of the combined Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps units, and a brief show was put on at the Armory of the 4th Divisional Signals, R.C.C.S. The "guinea pigs" were member of The Royal Canadian Regiment and of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, stationed at St. Jean's Que., under the company of Company Sergeant Major A.C. McKenzie, of the R.C.R.
Four Types of Gases
C.S.M. McKenzie, in a lecture prior to the actual demonstration, pointed out that the four serious types of gases generally used in modern warfare were: chlorine and phosgene, which he identified as choking gases; mustard and lewisite, or blister gases; D.M., a toxic smoke gas; and K.C.C. and C.A.P., or tear gases. The modern soldier, he pointed out, must be prepared to meet any or each of these types of gases.
During the Great War gas was far from being developed to the deadly state it is in today, and protection was much easier. Further, today those in the line of a gas attack must protect their whole bodies, as against only their lungs during the earlier part of the war.
A feature of interest to Canada was pointed out by the instructor when he said that mustard gas freezes at 57 degrees Fahrenheit. It would thus be useless during much of the year in Canada.
The early part of the demonstration showed an anti-aircraft patrol hit by a gas attack. The men, upon receiving the warning from a scout, quickly put on their grotesque masks and covered their necks, hands and other exposed parts of their bodies with a grease which is supposed to keep out the gas.
A squad fully protected against gas, and men charged with "cleaning up" after a gas attack, probed the most effective charade for the non-permanent soldiers present.
Garbed almost completely in black oilskins and high rubber boots, the demonstrators presented a ghoul-like appearance. Their gas masks, of the most modern type available in this country, and far superior to those used in the Great War, made each man look like a large-scale Mickey Mouse.
The speed with which the machine gun crew, this time expecting a gas attack, slipped themselves into their "gas proof" clothing, amazed the onlookers, few of whom had ever taken part in actual warfare. Completely garbed in steel-gray "tin hats", black rubber rain-cape-appearing cloaks and high rubber boots, the demonstrators offered a gruesome picture.
The "clean-up" men, who in actual warfare scout about the gas area finding out if it is safe for troops to occupy the ground, had spiked sticks much like those used by litter-collectors in parks. On the end of each stick, however, was but one piece of paper, impregnated with a chemical which would tell by turning color, if gas were still present. The clean-up men, heavily burdened with protective clothing, are not expected to fight, the instructor claimed.
Demonstrations will be carried out before other units of the non-permanent active militia later in the season.
Brigadier R.O. Alexander, D.S.O., district officer commanding, headed a large group of headquarters and other officers who attended the demonstrations, illustrating the importance which they are given in local military training.
Among the other officers present were: Lt.-Col. A.E. Lundon, D.D., M.D., Lt.-Col. A.E. Thompson, Lt.-Col. St. John Macdonald, Lt.-Col. A.P. Plante, 20th Field Ambulance; Lt.-Col. Gorssline, D.S.O., District Medical Officer; and Major C. Sanford.