Collector unearths First World War horse’s gas mask

Clifford Payne with his collection of WW1 memorabilia.
Clifford Payne with his collection of WW1 memorabilia.

A fascination for all things unusual has led to a Burnley collector discovering a First World War gas mask – for a horse.

Retired painter and decorator Mr Clifford Payne (81) is never far from a flea market or an auction, a hobby which has seen him amass a treasure trove of trinkets.

He said: “I try to buy objects that are unusual to the point people don’t actually know what they are at first glance.

“Obviously this year marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War so I have been keeping an eye out for related objects.

“I bought the gas mask in Jersey, and although it is not complete, I have the parts that went up the horse’s nostrils.

“I’m not absolutely certain it came from the First World War, but many horses were used on the Western Front, as was gas sadly, so there is a good chance it came from that conflict.”

Mr Payne, of Haggate, also owns an intricately carved wooden frame containing the photograph of an unknown fallen soldier from the First World, as well as a death plaque given to the families of all soldiers killed in the conflict. He added: “The frame is beautiful and very poignant. I don’t know the identity of the solider, but it was usually better-off families that had these frames made.

“Carved into it are two 
soldiers with their heads bowed and an angel. My grandfather was killed in the First World War. It was such 
a sad waste of life.”

Away from the horrors of war, Mr Payne, who has a stand at the Karlen Antiques Centre at Bank Hall, tries to collect the weird and the wonderful. Over the years he has collected a very early hearing aid and even spectacles for hens.