WW2 Tinned Steel Mess Tins

When the British Army introduced the 1937 pattern webbing equipment, they took the opportunity to replace the old D-Shaped mess tin set that had been in use for over a hundred years with something more suitable for modern warfare. They adopted a rectangular two piece aluminium mess tin set- aluminium being  lighter and more hygienic than the tinned steel used up to this point and a better heat conductor allowing food to be heated quicker. Sadly the outbreak of war put huge strains on the nation’s raw materials reserves and aluminium was of more use in making aircraft than mess tins. Because of this a new mild steel rectangular mess tin set was developed:imageThe two tins are made of mild steel, with a tinned coating to prevent rust, one is slightly smaller than the other, allowing them to be stored one inside the other:imageThis then allows them to be stored in the relevant pocket of a 37 pattern haversack. Each tin has a folding wire handle:imageThese are secured to the main body of the mess tin with a hinge fastened by four rivets:imageThis has the markings of the combined ‘MB’ for the Metal Box company and a date of 1941 on the top tin and 1942 on the lower. The long sides of each mess tin have a deep rib formed down them:imageThis would appear to be for strength to prevent the tin from flexing. In use water could be placed in the smaller tin and the larger placed on top as a lid allowing the water to boil quicker than in an open tin. The picture below shows Sergeant Chase of the South Alberta Regiment cleaning his mess tin whilst sat on his Staghound armoured car:imageThe steel mess tin was replaced by a new aluminium type in 1944 as part of the jungle system introduced that year, the steel tins being declared obsolete in 1955. Over the years the tin coating on many of these tins has deteriorated and it is not recommended they be used for eating any more- I use an aluminium set in my equipment for re-enacting for safety. The steel mess tins are easily available, with What Price Glory having examples available for under £10. These are covered in a thick storage grease that has now hardened to a brown gunk; I have a second set of these tins in this condition and their restoration will be the topic of a future post.

1 thought on “WW2 Tinned Steel Mess Tins

  1. Pingback: Aluminium Mess Tins | Tales from the Supply Depot

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