Tank mask

January 2015

This month, Education Manager, Liam Beeton has chosen a First World War tank driver’s mask which is part of our schools’ handling collection.

“This leather bound metal face-plate would protect the driver’s eyes from dust and their face from shrapnel and sparks.

I love using this object as a talking point when I run sessions for secondary school students.

It’s a great way to start a session as it looks very striking and rather unusual.  Without fail, they immediately hold it up to their faces to get a feel for what the tank driver would have been able to see through it.  That leads on to wondering what it must have been like to have been a soldier driving one of those early machines.

The fact that part of it is made from chainmail also makes it very interesting and opens up discussions about the technological innovations that were made during the War.

The First World War was an early example of a ‘modern’ conflict and inventions such as tanks – first used en masse at Cambrai in 1916, machine guns, aeroplanes and gas were used, alongside things we would normally associate with earlier conflicts, such as chainmail and horses.”