This is a very rare to find French soldiers rubber ARS 17 gas mask leather and rubber back panel for the eyelets which still has some original colour clear to see it is not complete but for such an item to even survive is amazing. The part is in relic but very solid condition not braking up or falling apart it has been left in as found condition and has only survived this well as it has been in a chalk lined bunker for 100 years perfect for display or any collection so rare to get from the battlefield as they are fragile items normally that just rot away. The gas mask parts were recovered in a old French dugout from the area of the Thiaumont Redoubt,west of Fort Douaumont the June-October 1916 battlefield in Verdun these are properly from the fighting in 1918 in the same area as these masks were not issued until 1917.
French position was a part of the terrain forming a salient west of Fort Douaumont, known as the "Thiaumont Redoubt". The Germans, planned to capture this location prior to launching their main offensive on the 23rd June 1916. The Germans captured the redoubt eventually after many weeks of fighting and massive casualties on both sides. On the 19th August they finally cleared the redoubt of all French soldiers then they fortified it and it was on the 24th October 1916 that it was finally re taken again by the French Army.
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First World War period Belgian gas mask. Produced by France for Belgian service, the ARS (Appareil Respiratoire Special) was issued in quantities from 1917; the design of the respirator was heavily influenced by the German example then in use. The mask featured a scew-on metal filter cannister and had neither intake or exhaust valves. When stowed it was contained in a cylindrical tin container strapped over the shoulder.