Post War Canadian Canteens

Over the last few months we have looked at the Canadian 51 pattern and 82 pattern canteen carriers. However we have not yet considered the canteens that were carried inside these items of webbing so tonight we are looking at the two post war canteen designs used by the Canadians. Up until the introduction of the 51 pattern webbing set, the Canadians had been using the standard Mk VII enamelled iron water bottle. This design was clearly antiquated and a new aluminium canteen was introduced, based closely on the design used by the US since the First World War:It took a long time for these canteens to be rolled out, and many troops issued the 51 pattern set when it was first introduced had to use an old enamelled water bottle as the canteens were not ready for them. The canteen is gently curved to fit better against the hip, with an indent on the rear:The lid is made of black plastic with raised grooves to help grip:A short piece of chain is attached to the lid, that would originally have been fastened to the canteen so the lid was not accidently lost:This canteen is marked with a date of February 1957 and was produced by ‘CMF’:The aluminium canteen was certainly a vast improvement on the old enamelled water bottle, but presented some difficulties unique to Canadian service. Canada’s army had to operate in very cold conditions for much of the year meaning the water in their canteens could freeze. When this happened the aluminium canteen could split or be bent out of shape very easily. To combat this problem the Canadians introduced a plastic canteen, actually introducing this ahead of the US Army:This canteen is an incredibly early example with a date of 1960 on the base:The canteen has raised lettering on the front reminding troops not to heat water in it as it is plastic and would melt!Although this seems obvious, it must be remembered that when the canteens were introduced there were ample supplied of the aluminium canteens in use and it would not be hard to pick up a plastic example in the dark and accidently apply it to a heat source.

The canteen has a plastic screw cap, that is held in place with a plastic collar so it does not go missing:The plastic canteen was to prove very popular and widely copied, the US, Canada and Australia amongst many other nations all using variations of it right through to the present day.

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