Cavalry Mess Tins

We have looked at some of the different designs of mess tins used by British and Empire forces before, but tonight we are looking at another distinctive design. From the very start of organised warfare it was obvious that mounted troops needed very different equipment than that provided to infantrymen. Horses move at much higher speed and with a violent motion that would cause anything not securely fastened to the rider or the horse to fly off in short order. To this end, equipment designed for cavalry has to ensure it can be strapped down securely and this can be seen in tonight’s Cavalry pattern mess tins.

The tins themselves are circular rather than the ‘D’ shaped or rectangular shape adopted by the rest of the regular army:

30AA460A-6BEA-4319-953F-8A41025593F2The design was adopted long before the formal recording of items in stores codes and lists of changes in the 1870s and was to continue in production into the Second World War. There is a wire handle to help hold the tin which folds over to fit snuggly inside the tin:

AE4C4049-1545-44DB-A6A4-CD4E764DA3B5The remians of the tinning which covered the inside of the tin can still be faintly seen. The handle is riveted to the mess tin with four rivets and is marked /|\ and dated 1941:

0982BCBC-B49E-4BBE-B14A-A0D6F58ACDEAOn the sides are two metal loops for a leather strap to pass through to secure the lid securely to the main tin:

111D43F0-DADB-43AB-9EFF-11D6F5465DC0Sadly the lid is missing from the mess tin. Stamped in the base is the original soldiers number, 238673?:

556FD925-00FF-48E5-B218-778E14DE0956The number indicates that the tin was issued to someone who’s number was in the block allocated to the Royal Signals. Although designed for cavalry it appears these tins were issued to other non-infantry units, with examples seen in use by the artillery, engineers etc. The RAF also made extensive use of this pattern of mess tin. Even after the end of the widespread use of cavalry, much of their equipment continued in use with the ‘service’ branches who were always a lower priority for reequipping with the latest kit.


  1. Brilliant, thanks. I bought one of these cavalry mess tins at the car boot sale on Sunday for £5, (including a NAAFI tin for burning the fuel in, plus a little stove), identical to your picture, 1941 dated, but did not know what it was. A little research found your blog, and you have enlightened me!

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