Dubbin, Protective No 1 Tin

One of the more common military tins to come up for sale is that for Dubbin, Protective, No 1. This is a small round, dark green tin:imageThe details of the contents are printed onto the front of the tin in black letters:imageThe style of tin was almost certainly produced by Joseph Pickering & Son Ltd of Sheffield and it is believed that this style of tin dates from after 1953.

I must confess I had not really given the use of this dubbin much though, beyond its use as a waterproofing agent and somewhere in the back of my mind realising that it was used in anti-gas procedures. The following Army Council orders came up on a Facebook site a few weeks ago however, kindly provided by Jonathon Price, and offer some more information into the use of Dubbin that I have not come across before and might be of equal interest to you:

Dubbin, Protective No 1.

  1. Attention is drawn to War Clothing Regulations, 1941, para.27, which forbids the use of blacking on boots.
  2. Dubbin, protective No. 1, is now being introduced into the Service for issue to all units other than the Home Guard and will gradually replace the ordinary service dubbin as at present issued.
  3. All service boots in wear, including those provided under A.C.Is. 2124 and 2456 of 1941, (a) by officers in battledress, and (b) by other ranks (including boots, leather, ATS, but not ATS shoes) will be treated with ordinary service dubbin or dubbin, protective No 1, as supplies of the latter commodity become available.
  4. Units will continue to obtain supplies by indenting on the R.A.O.C. If dubbin, protective, No. 1, is not available at the time, ordinary service dubbin will be issued in lieu. One tin, containing 2-oz. of dubbin, will be issued to each soldier, and also to each A.T.S. auxiliary in possession of boots, leather, A.T.S. When empty tins will be refilled from the bulk supply carried by the unit. Issue to officers will be on repayment.
  5. The object of dubbin, protective No. 1, is to resist the penetration of blister gas through the uppers of the boots. One pair of boots will require ½ oz. of dubbin for each application. The dubbin will be applied at least once a week. Instructions for the application of the dubbin, by the individual are as follows:-
    1. Remove all mud and dirt from the boot with a damp cloth and then wipe dry.
    2. Apply dubbin evenly over the whole of the upper of the boot including the tongue.
    3. Work well in with the hands, paying particular attention to the seams and to the join of the upper and the welt.
  6. Boots referred to in para. 3 above will not be polished in any circumstances.
  7. Dubbin will not be carried in the respirator haversack…


Opening the tin reveals the dubbin:imageDubbin was first invented in the mediæval period as a waterproofing agent and traditionally consisted of a mix of wax, oil and tallow that acted both as a proofing agent and as a feed for leather. It is an oily, waxy substance and is still used today alongside more modern synthetic substitutes.

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