Battle Relic # 1             

Item Description: U.S. Army Assault Gas Mask

Introduction: On an internet auction site, Battledetective.com acquired a U.S. Army Assault Gas Mask. This is the "story behind the mask".

The Story:

On a Dutch auction website we bought a relic from combat in Eindhoven. Patrick, from Someren, sold us a much battered U.S. Army Assault Gas Mask. When asked how he found it, Patrick stated:

"The mask had surfaced after digging for construction work. I saw it more or less by accident on Queen's Day*. After partying in Eindhoven we walked back to the car which was parked on the Eindhoven Technical University's campus. When I crossed the Dommel River bridge, the mask caught my eye. So I didn't actually search the area but as a collector of World War Two items, I always keep an eye open."

 * In 2005; Queen's Day is a holiday in The Netherlands celebrating the Queens birthday.

 

The Technical University today is situated in the route of advance of 2nd Bn/506 in their flanking move in South-Eastern directing, avoiding the resistance 3rd Bn/506 was encountering on Woenselse Straat and Klooster Dreef (see Case File # 2) as indicated on this map:

 

In "Hell's Highway" by George Koskimaki, in the Paragraph named "Medic Up Front!", we read:

It is safe to conclude that the mask was issued to a trooper of 2nd Bn /506th.

 

(Note: Images of discovery and forensic processing of gas mask were reenacted and dramatized for this publication.)

Close examination of the mask reveals de date of manufacture as 1944. Because men, who were with the 506th since its activation, went overseas to England in 1943, it is Battledetective.com’s hypothesis that they were issued gas masks of an earlier manufacturing date than 1944. So either this particular mask was issued to a man who had lost his in combat in Normandy or it belonged to a replacement. It is also assumed that the mask was discarded to have less of a burden to carry under fire.

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