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Whitstable at War - World War II

.... Gas Masks


Pre-War Fears


With the rise of Hitler and the expansion of Nazi influence in Europe during the 1930s, fears of war grew amongst the population. Even children sensed the danger and picked up some of the news…..


“The long wooden building at the top of Tower Hill was 'The Lawn Pavilion'. In 1938, my Mother took me there to see a film news documentary. It was about Neville Chamberlain's return from a meeting with Hitler. 

On our exit, she looked very concerned and explained to me that there could be war! "

John Harman
British Columbia


"I remember the declaration of the war and the church bells ringing for the last time until the end of the war." 

Bernard Shaw
Graz, Styria
(Late of the UK)


Preparing the Population  


Rationing and Gas Masks....

Arrangements were made to provide basic necessities and protection for the people….


"The things I do remember are the ration books and strange little gas masks that we found in a cupboard long after the war ."

Ann Nash


… and, despite the horror of it all, there were those lighter moments. For example, there was the fitting procedure for gas masks in Belmont Road...


The white building in the photo of Belmont Road below belonged to the "South Eastern Gas Board and was used as a showroom.    


Above: The Belmont Road Gas Works pictured in 1953... now the site of the Windsor House apartment block


Before World War II, people would go there to try on gas masks. The shop had a "curtained off", narrow corridor and folk were made to go through this wearing their new gas masks. Shop assistants would then pump tear gas into the corridor - woe betide folks if the masks didn't fit!!!

Barbara Wardle
Middlesex and...
Mum Mollie Fallon


There were other locations for gas mask fitting and some reluctance amongst the younger generations to get involved....


My earliest war memory is having my gas mask fitted in a building somewhere between the harbour and Jacques arcade. I remember screaming the place down!

Peter Elvy


This reluctance didn't go unnoticed by officialdom. Some versions were produced in bright colours to encourage children to use them. I have a feeling that they were called Mickey Mouse masks


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