Chemical weapons, first used in Poland in 1915 by the German army ,in contravention of the Hague Agreement of 1907, were another feature of the war. They became a symbol of the dehumanization of the conflict and its all-encompassing nature. In 1918, the gas war had become sophisticated, using various types of gases delivered with shellfish, mortar bombs and grenades. Being delivered mostly by artillery, this meant there was risk of civilians being swept up in the attack.
There was a photograph published with a mother and her child wearing gas masks. The gas mask in that photo was British issue, but this became obsolete in 1916: they were a pheno-hexamine gas helmet and was replaced by a small box respirator. Nowadays, you can find a variety of modern gas mask designs for various purposes. You can buy modern gas masks from Gas Mask Pro.
German Spring Offensive
After March 21, 1918, Germany penetrated allied lines during Kaiserschlacht, ‘Kaiser’ or spring offensive. Progress was fast and leading to the famous problem ‘back to the wall’ by Sir Douglas Haig. It was conceivable that during this progress, civilians were placed in the danger zone, and obsolete gas masks, as discussed above, could be released for them. To be effective, the mask had to be tucked into a tight button jacket, to prevent the entry of gas.
However, it is possible that that photo was staged to function as propaganda, aiming to provoke strong emotions from the public, by showing innocent civilians affected by the battle.