Gas Mask and Filter Box, c. 1930s

Object: Gas Mask and Filter Box

Materials rubber, metal and glass

Date of Creation c. 1930s

Heritage Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

EMu user since 2009

Gas Mask and Filter BoxThis gas mask and filter box was retrieved from the wreck of the minesweeper HMAS Goorangai, sunk with all hands on 20th November 1940.

At night in wartime ‘brown-out’ conditions (minimal lights exhibited) the HMAS Goorangai was bound from Queenscliff, Victoria, to anchor at Portsea on the other side of The Rip. Steaming outwards at full speed was the dark silhouette of the 10,400 ton passenger liner Duntroon bound from Melbourne to Sydney. Around 8.45 pm the HMAS Goorangai was seen at the last minute by those on the bridge of the Duntroon, but it was too late to avert a collision. The diminutive minesweeper had no chance as it was struck amidships by the huge bow of the fast moving liner, and sank immediately, becoming Australia’s first naval loss of World War II.

Gas Mask

Rescue efforts were hampered as searchlights were forbidden and the Queenscliff lifeboat stuck on a bank in attempting to attend the rescue. Lifejackets were thrown in the direction of cries of men by those on board the Duntroon, but in the strong ebb tide no survivors were ever found.

Gas MaskThis is an Australian Army issue gas mask and filter made from rubber, tin and splinterless glass. The unit was carried in a canvas bag, available for immediate use. When the mask was in use the bag held the filtering box, which could be worn on the chest or back. As poisonous gas had been liberally used during attacks in the First World War, millions of these very same filter-box style  respirators were manufactured during World War II.

Acknowledgements:  Originally from the Terry Arnott collection
Des Williams, Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria
Victorian Heritage Database