The army has always needed a steady supply of lubricants and oil, especially as the force became ever more mechanised. Different pieces of machinery need different oils- a light gun oil works fine for a rifle but would be useless in the gear box of a lorry and vice versa. These oils and lubricants were supplied in pressed metal tins for decades before the advent of cheaper and easier plastic bottles. Today we are looking at a metal oil can from the 1950s, painted in the standard deep bronze green of the period:
The can is rectangular in cross section and has a screw cap and handle attached to the top, where the letters WD and /|\ mark are stamped into the metal indicating it is War Department property:
The screw cap itself has further instructions pressed into the metal:
The date, a stores code and the manufacturer’s initials are stamped into the base of the tin, here indicating that it dates back to 1954:
This oil can is in very good condition and does not have any of the oily deposits one would expect if it had ever actually been used for its intended purpose. This suggests to me that it has spent its life in stores and was never used. It also implies that it was designed to be issued to soldiers to fill up themselves from a larger drum of oil as needed, rather than coming ready filled from a manufacturer as we might expect today.