WWI gas mask

Protecting against early chemical warfare

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Gas masks were developed in WWI to protect soldiers from the effects of chloride gas. This gas mask was worn by 21 year old Levi Nathan Cox from Clarendon, Texas.

Chemical warfare using chloride gas was first released by German troops on April 22, 1915, killing 1,100 Allied soldiers and injuring an unknown number of others. An eyewitness account described the impact as "a burning sensation in the head, red-hot needles in the lungs, the throat seized as by a strangler." By the time the U.S. entered the war, gas masks such as this one had been developed with chemical absorbents that limited the impact of chloride gas.

Levi Cox (1896–1964) enlisted in WWI on June 5, 1917. He served as a private in Company B, 7th Infantry before rising to a sergeant in Company H, 142nd Infantry, 36th Division, a consolidated unit of infantries from Oklahoma and Texas. After training at Camp Bowie, Cox was deployed to Europe where he was one of 70,552 Americans exposed to gas during the war. Cox apparently suffered no short term effects from the gassing — his June 16, 1919, honorable discharge reported him being "0 percent disabled."

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WWI gas mask Artifact from Clarendon
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