John Perks

‘Everyone carried their gas mask, even the children’

‘Everyone carried their gas mask, even the children’

Memories of a different — and terrifying — era of a different sort of universal masking mandate in World War II

In 1940, I was 6 years old and living in the village of Sidcup, Kent, England, about 12 miles south of London. We were under attack by a virus called Nazi fascism, led by a charismatic leader who wanted to make the Deutschland great again.

The war had started in 1939, and by 1940 we were in the thick of it. My father, who had fought in World War I, was in the Home Guard. My mother was in the National Fire Service, driving an ambulance, and my elder sister, Mickey, at age 17, was a dispatch rider in the Royal Air Force.

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