War clouds were already gathering in September 1938 when gas masks were handed out at this unnamed Liverpool school in an eerie echo of the Covid pandemic nearly nine decades later.

A young girl looks on bemused as respirators are fitted around the table. Little did she know that her world would never be the same again.

Europe was on a knife-edge at the time as Germany had annexed Austria in March 1938 and was vigorously claiming territories in the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia.

Gas masks were issued to all British civilians when the Second World War broke out in September 1939 after Germany’s invasion of Poland.

Fears were high that poison gas might be dropped in bombing raids.

Not only that, the destructive power of modern bombers had been demonstrated all too starkly in the devastation of Guernica in the Spanish Civil War.

But even though most sides in World War II had amassed stockpiles of poison gas, it was never used in battle due to the dire threat of retaliation.

It was estimated that Germany alone had manufactured 7,000 tons of the nerve gas Sarin by 1945.

Our modern image from the streets of Liverpool in October 2020 shows how face coverings had become an integral part of our daily lives during the Covid pandemic.

Masks an echo of modern times
Modern Liverpool Wears Covid Face Masks to Protect the Population – Source: Liverpool and Merseyside Then and Now, iNostalgia Publishing / MirrorPix

Featured Image – Gas masks an echo of the time – Source – Liverpool and Merseyside Then and Now, iNostalgia Publishing/Mirrorpix

Malcolm Pheby
Former daily newspaper editor and group editorial director for leading national media brands, Malcolm is a regular contributor to iNostalgia.

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