On 14th July, Signaller Sydney Fuller of 8th Suffolk paraded for a respirator inspection near Cassel on the Belgian border. He wrote in his diary: "Respirators were inspected. Mine was condemned - a defective eyepiece. Each man was issued a small tube of "Glasso", a preparation for cleaning the eyepieces. Heavy gunfire in front and to the left of us."
The "Small Box" respirator had been introduced in the early months of 1916. Though some were in service at the opening of the Battle of the Somme, it was not until October that they began to be issued in large numbers to the men of the Suffolk Regiment, with the 4th Battalion being issued them first.
The design was a breakthrough following the last evolution of the over-the-head hood variety of gas mask known as the PHG; a helmet treated with phenate and hexamine which had an externally mounted set of goggles attached.
The Small Box Respirator was now in-line with the German design, a mask that sealed around the face. A tube was mounted to the front which led down to a filter that contained layers of treated filters in-between charcoal. Inside the mask, a rubber mouthpiece allowed the wearer to grip the end of the tube in his teeth, and underneath the tubes external outlet was a on-way filter, identical to those on the smoke helmets. It could let air out, but not in. The filter was contained in a compartment of a haversack satchel that could be worn on the chest in an 'alert' position, or slung over a shoulder when not in use.
Two day later, Fuller was given a new respirator in exchange for his condemned one.
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.