Cluny MacPherson
Cluny Macpherson, MD was a medical doctor
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 and the inventor of the gas mask
Gas mask
A gas mask is a mask put on over the face to protect the wearer from inhaling airborne pollutants and toxic gases. The mask forms a sealed cover over the nose and mouth, but may also cover the eyes and other vulnerable soft tissues of the face. Some gas masks are also respirators, though the word...


During the First World War the German army used poison gas for the first time, against Allied troops at Ypres, France in 1915. A soldier's only protection was to breathe through a handkerchief or other small piece of fabric soaked in urine.

Out of necessity, Doctor Cluny Macpherson quickly came up with the idea of a gas mask made of fabric and metal. Using a helmet taken from a captured German prisoner, he added a canvas hood with eyepiece
An eyepiece, or ocular lens, is a type of lens that is attached to a variety of optical devices such as telescopes and microscopes. It is so named because it is usually the lens that is closest to the eye when someone looks through the device. The objective lens or mirror collects light and brings...

s and a breathing tube. The helmet was treated with chemicals that would absorb the chlorine used in the gas attacks. He had invented the world's first gas mask. After a few improvements, Cluny Macpherson's helmet became the first gas mask to be used by the British army.

This Newfoundlander's invention was the most important protective device of the First World War, protecting countless soldiers from blindness, disfigurement or injury to their throats and lungs. Gas masks are worn by millions of soldiers around the world today.

Macpherson received his medical education from Methodist College and McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

. MacPherson started the first St. John Ambulance Brigade in Newfoundland after working with the St. John Ambulance Association.

Macpherson served as the principal medical officer for the St. John Ambulance Brigade of the first Newfoundland Regiment during World War I. MacPherson began researching methods of protection against the poison gas and invented the MacPherson respirator (gas mask) in 1915, which was the first general issue gas countermeasure to be used by the British Army.

After suffering a war injury, Macpherson returned to Newfoundland to serve as the director of the military medical service and later served as the president of the St. John's Clinical Society and the Newfoundland Medical Association. Macpherson was awarded many honours for his contributions to medical science.

Cluny Macpherson Married Eleanora Thompson.

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