In the lead-up to World War II there were fears that the UK would be attacked with poisonous gas, so by 1938 the government had issued respirators to every man, woman and child in the nation. More than 40 million gas masks were issued.
In America there was a gas mask for children that looked like Mickey Mouse, with the character’s nose and ears. This object is the British ‘Mickey Mouse’ gas mask. It did not resemble the cartoon character but it used the red and blue, like the American version and kept the name.
It was given to children aged 18 months to 4 years old to allay their fears about wearing a respirator. It was also made lighter than normal masks so it was easier to wear.
See also Mickey Mouse Inferno which is a composite made from this image