I found it really interesting in Owen’s poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” how he describes one of the soldiers who failed to get their gas mask on time and the effects of that.
This made an impact on me because of a story my Grandfather told me many times about when he was in the army in WWII. One of the stories he told was that when he was training to fight he had to do many things he did not like, such as raming a hanging sandbag with a bayonet and learning how to get it unstuck, such as placing your foot on the sandbag (person) and shoving them away. He said that while he did not like doing that even in practice, it was drilled into them that it was nessasary becuase of they lost their weapon they were dead.
One day while training, my grandfather was put into a gas chamber with several other people. Everyone had their gas masks strapped onto them and they began to let the gas into the chamber. My grandfather tells me that he remembers starting to get very dizzy and that he could not think straight. After he collapsed they turned the gas off and rushed him to the medical unit, realizing that his gas mask had had a fatal flaw in it. After that my Grandfather was not allowed to fight in the war anymore. He was still in the military, just not allowed to actually fight. My Grandfather is a gentle soul, and no doubt is glad that he never had to test that sandbag technique out on a real person.
I was wondering, how much worse would it have been if this particular soldier had gotten his mask on and yet still been killed? Is what he felt similar to what my grandfather felt? Or were the types of gas much different? I also wish I knew if that mask was destroyed or repaired and given to another soldier. It would be so cool to know; since that would mean that my grandfathers fate in that incident would have helped to save another’s life on the front lines.