At La Neuvelle on the Somme, Christmas gifts came late to the 8th Battalion of The Suffolk Regiment.
At midday, the different Company's were paraded in order and were requested to hand in the 'old' pattern "Smoke Helmets" and receive instead, the new issue "Tube Helmet."
The 8th Battalion, being at that stage in a quiet section of the line, were amongst the last to receive the new form of protection against gas. Their counterparts; the 9th Battalion, had been issued with them in later November, just in time for the massive phosgene attack that was inflicted upon them at St. Jean on 19th December 1915.
The previous version known as the "Smoke Helmet" or "Hypo" hood, was a single layer of natural undyed flannelette, with a small 3x2' mica window. When worn, it was tucked into the collar of the service dress tunic to stop gas being drawn in when breathing. Although very much a stop gap measure, it served the British Army well on the Western Front for over 7 months for some units whilst the P Type helmet came on-line.
The 'P' Type (seen above) which stood for phenate, was an improvement on the hypo hood. It now had two layers of flannelette and a one was exhaust valve. By gripping a tube between his teeth, the wearer could breath in through the layers of impregnated cloth and breath both through the one way valve. It also featured separate eyepieces which could be replaced where needle without having to discard the helmet as was the case with the mina window of the smoke helmet.
With the wake of the use of the use of phosgene in December, hypo-sulphate was added to the mix with phenate. It would be the new year before all units of the Regiment would receive theirs, with the exception of the 5th out in the Egyptian desert who would not be issued with them of a few months to come.
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.