THE horrors of mustard gas left a mark on the planet after the First World War.

Images were ingrained across Europe of gassed soldiers “guttering, choking, drowning” as wartime poet Wilfred Owen put it.

So when the Second World War broke out 21 years later, gas was the first thing on everyone’s minds as these old Argus photos from The Keep archive in Falmer show.

Fears of gas bombs dropped by Luftwaffe raiders prompted Brighton’s Chief Constable W. Hutchison to order residents to carry gas masks at all times.

“The indication of a gas attack will be warned by hand rattles which will mean to put on your gas masks and go indoors,” he declared.

Cleansing stations to hose down gassed residents would be set up in Circus Street and Park Street if required.

But in the meantime people continued about their days with their masks strapped to their side.

The Argus: A gas mask drill in 1940A gas mask drill in 1940

“Twenty cinemas were open in Brighton and Hove,” wrote the Daily Telegraph on September 11, 1939.

“On an air raid signal being given programmes will stop for five minutes, and audiences will be told where the nearest shelter is.

“Those who wish to leave will do so, and the rest will be able to see the continuation of the films.”

But perhaps the biggest threat of gas attacks came from British forces themselves. Aware of Nazi plans to land soldiers on beaches near Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton in 1940, the government stockpiled mustard gas to be used if the invaders landed.

But the planned invasion, known as Operation Sea Lion, was eventually abandoned.

Thankfully gas attacks were very rarely used in combat during the Second World War despite all nations sitting on large stockpiles.

But in the minds of most Brightonians during the war it was better to be safe than sorry.

The Keep is currently closed until further notice and unable to take orders for photos.