French Military Gas Mask and Case
World War I was the first time that chemical warfare was used on a large scale. Throughout the war, German armies released poison gas toward their enemies in the trenches. Allied soldiers, unable to leave the trenches for fear of being killed, were trapped as the gas rolled in. They breathed in the gas, which often caused burns on the skin as well, and the gas in their lungs caused choking, coughing and often death.
Allied armies quickly started to distribute gas masks to soldiers. As the war went on, the masks became larger, more effective, and more sophisticated. This mask, owned by Ezra Curry of St. Paul, is meant to be worn over the top half of the face to protect the soldier's eyes. Another piece would have been worn over the mouth and nose.