Original WWI U.S. Gas Alert Trench Gong Alarm - Complete
Original item: Only One Available. Gas Warfare, now banned by International Treaty, was first introduced in WWI on the Western Front, and the results were devastating. Soon everyone was issued with a gas mask and was required to carry one at all times. With all the noise in the trenches, this gong style system was adopted to alert soldiers in the trenches of an impending attack. These gongs had a totally unique sound, and were quite jarring. They were introduced because it created a unique battlefield sound so everyone who heard it knew that a Gas Attack was imminent.
This “U” shaped design is a very simple one. 1 ½ inch hollow metal tubing, at approximately 33 inches, was bent into a U shape and had 2 eyelets on the top to attach some sort of sling system like the one you can see in the pictures. The sling system is still completely functional with no major damage to the webbing, clips or buckles. Attached to the gong, by a large cotter pin on a chain, is a trench club style device. This wooden handled instrument is 12 inches in length with 4 inches of hollow metal tubing slid over top of the wood and fastened with a single metal pin going through the both of them. The metal used is more than likely excess metal tubing that went into making the gongs. The about 10 inch chain is fastened to a top eyelet running through a hole made in the bottom of the club and then secured by a large cotter pin which is then secured into the gong.
This alert system would be hanging in a relatively communal section of the trench, in an open location so it can be seen without obstruction. To operate this device is quite simple, you would get the alert of gas, you would run up to the gong, remove the cotter pin and bang on the gong with the metal end of the club, alerting fellow soldiers of the coming gas attack and to don their proper personal protective equipment, like a gas mask.
This example is a complete, fully functional and beautiful one at that. There are still original red rings painted around the tubing and there’s no significant damage to the device or oxidation. The “club” appears as if it was used many times to strike the gong, you can see noticeable indents in the metal sleeve. The wooden handle has no damage besides minor surface scratches and retains almost all of its original varnish.
This is a very unique and relatively rare piece of history. With no threat of gas attacks in your neighborhood, you can at least use it to call the kids in for dinner!
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