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The MK VII Gas Mask (Respirator) Bag

The MK VII Gas Mask Bag (aka MK VII Respirator Bag) is the bag used by Indiana Jones in the movies by the same name. It's a great bag for holding all things that bring fortune and glory.

I recently acquired a MK VII (Mark Seven) gas mask bag from What Price Glory, who provided excellent and very fast service. The bag itself is in unissued condition, and was made in 1942 (these bags are not contemporaneous with the Indiana Jones movies, btw, though the Mark V would have been). Since I had a devil of a time locating photos of this particular bag online, I thought I should add it to my own webpages for other Indy fans who might want to find one (or make one of their own).

I have replaced the original strap (which I kept intact just in case I ever wanted to use it again) with a leather strap and nickle buckle, held together with nickle leather screws. The buttons are just snap buttons, which you'll see the underside of later.

Probably the oddest thing on the bag is this metal disk. It is 1.5 inches in diameter, and is used in conjunction with the string on the other side (below) to tie the bag around your chest and keep it from flopping around while you ran for cover. Below, where you can see images of these bags in use during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, you can just make out the string tied around the chest.

Here, of course, is the string. The string has its own pocket, so that you can stuff it in. The pocket is about half-stitched along the top, and it has a small drain at the bottom (which you can't see in the picture because of the way the bag is laying: it's just a small brass ring about a quarter-inch across).

The bag has drains, too, to prevent water from settling in the bag and making it too heavy to carry. These drains are a little over 3/4 of an inch across.

The back of the bag will show you the stitching for the pockets. The pocket on the right goes all the way to the bottom, while the pocket on the left only goes part-way down. You see that the stiching on the left pocket doesn't go all the way to the seam: there's just enough room to slide a Bic pen through to the bottom of the bag.

This is a top-down view of the bag's pockets, showing all five internal pockets (the center pocket is sub-divided), as well as the tie-off for the string that goes around your chest on the right side and the interior disk that holds the external metal disk in place in the second photo.

There are a total of six pockets (five under the flap and one outside it), with the center pocket sub-divided with a divider that doesn't go all the way to the top or bottom of that pocket.

There are also two strings that come standard with the bag: one that is designed to help keep the bag from flapping around (it's on the outside and tucks into the outside pocket when not in use) and one to keep you from having to fish one of the gas mask components out when you really need it. This second one is pictured here.

This is the flap of the bag, with the maker's mark. This reads "H & Sons" with the date "1942." There isn't anything known about this particular make, and it's not verified as one of the versions used in the films, but it doesn't matter, really. The bag is in excellent shape, and H & Sons did a pretty darn good job on it.

Now, here are some pictures that might show you how this bag was worn/used before the Indiana Jones movies.

Note that the flap is worn facing the chest, so that it can be flipped open when needed

Youth in gas masks
In the larger version, you can see the external strings as used

Nuns learning to wear gas masks

Many gas masks


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