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A bit of trivia that might throw light on the subject. The American character actor Walter Brennan was the victim of a mustard gas attack in World War I. You might remember Walter Brennan if you are a fan of old American Westerns. He acted from the 1930s up into his death in the 1970s and always played old man parts - usually the funny sidekick of the hero. (The old jailor in John Wayne's "Rio Bravo", the minister in "SGT York" among hundreds of others) He ALWAYS played the old man, even as a young man, because the mustard gas made him lose his teeth and hair and prematurely aged his skin to make him look years older than his actual age. He was always a grim reminder to me of how important it was to keep your mask on no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
I know in our gas drills (albeit much later than World War I - 1970s and 1980s) we were instructed to automatically replace our helmets on our heads before proceeding as the noggin still needed protecting from the various stuff flying in a combat zone.
When I was going through US Army basic training in the 1970s a favorite past time of our drill sergeants was to force us to do our physical training drills in our gas masks, often troops would pass out. Later on, some idiot officers would take their companies out for two mile runs in mask - maybe there was a point to it. But our masks were much better than those of World War I, I can only imagine how uncomfortable those guys were.
Wizard wheeze some of us had back in the early nineties to escape the same trewatment was to get a gas mask filter and remove the guts leaving an empty shell, a friend who was a chief tech at RAF St Athan showed us how. This was great and had us running around in ful IPE like super-men until one day the inevitable happened and the RAF Regiment took us into the gas chamber and I forgot to change the filter.........
Jackie Coogan, Uncle Fester from the Addams Family was the first Allied pilot to land a glider behind enemy lines in Burma while ferrying Orde Wingate's Chindits into action .
A great supporting actor.
I thought he was one of the strongest characters in Northwest Passage. BTW not his real teeth in this film but a prosthetic to replace his missing teeth.
Most accounts now say he lost most of his teeth in an accident in 1932. He died of emphysema which may have been connected to the Mustard gas. The aging, hair thinning etc could also have been a feature connected with his damaged lungs. Many Mustard gas victims later succumbed to TB and other lung diseases and of course these are not recorded as WWI deaths.
The WWI German bombardments used to use a mixture of HE, smoke and gas shells as the soldiers got used to the noise and appearance of a gas shell only barrage. Helmets were essential.
David, I'd never heard about the car accident, nice to know, always heard it was the gas but never could figure out how the gas might have knocked out his teeth (then again, my mother always warned me not to pick my nose when I was a kid because I'd get cancer. I never could figure out how picking my nose would cause cancer but it sure stopped me from picking my nose...).
Huw, I always liked Jackie Coogan. He was a child actor who played with Charlie Chaplin and was plaintive in a lawsuit against his parents whom he sued when he grew up and found his parents had squandered all the money he made as a child actor. It caused the State of California to pass a law protecting child actors named after him, "the Coogan Law."
A lot of that generation of actors were true war "heroes" in the best sense of the word.
The Mustard gas could have weakened his gums - horrible stuff. I don't believe anybody did or has done a study of the links between Mustard gas exposure(however slight) and influenza deaths.
He married Betty Grable 1937 which did not last long div. 1939. But as you know she was very much the number one pin-up in WWII (US but Anglos as well) so that must have led to some difficult moments. He was probably the only US soldier not to have her photo pinned up.
That would have been my guess. But ol' Walt was always a good incentive for me to take our NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare) Training seriously - no matter how much I hated the mask.
Now Jackie Coogan and Betty Grable is NOT a match I would have pictured. But you know what they say about love...