Today we are taking a look at something that has appeared many times on the blog over the year, but always to illustrate its carrier rather than in its own right, the Mk VII water bottle:
The origins of the bottle go back to the early Edwardian era when the traditional kidney shaped water bottle began to be produced in enameled iron, in the form of the blue Mk V water bottle with it’s distinctive conical spout. This was replaced by the simpler Mk VI, again in blue enamel, in 1903. In November 1939 the water bottle was updated again to the Mk VII and that is the subject of today’s post. Two major changes were introduced with the Mk VII bottles; firstly the colour changed from blue to green and secondly the cord for attaching the cork was now fixed to a metal ring on the neck of the bottle, rather than being sewn to the cover:
The bottle remained similar in all other respects. It is made of three parts, the body of the bottle to which the base is secured with a tin can style attachment and the shoulder and spout which are a curved stamped part. All is covered in a wool cover that serves a number of purposes. Firstly it protects the enamel from knocks that could chip it and leave it open to rust. Secondly it helps to insulate the contents of the bottle preventing them from freezing in the winter. In the summer the cover can be soaked in water and as this evaporates it pulls heat away from the bottle and its contents, keeping the contents cool. The cover is again made up of three pieces, a body, base and top and is then sewn around the bottle making it impossible to remove without unpicking the stitching.
The bottle has a kidney shape, with a slight curve to allow it to sit around the wearer’s leg more comfortably when being worn from the belt:
The weakest part of all the enameled bottles was its stoppers which were just simple, slightly conical corks. These had a metal cap at the top and a bolt that passed through this with an eyelet for the string at one end and a nut at the other. This end was in the bottle and in contact with water resulting in it getting rusty in short order:
The Mk VII bottle was hopelessly outdated even at its introduction in 1939, the Americans having introduced a far superior design thirty years previously in the form of the M1910 which would go on to be copied for the 1944 Pattern bottle. Despite that the bottle would see service throughout World War II and right through until the adoption of the 1958 pattern webbing set. Even then the bottles continued to be used by cadets into the 1980s!
As a recruit in the Intelligence Corps in 1971, I was issued with 37 Pattern webbing. Even after training, as a “corps soldier”, I was issued 37 Pattern webbing, not receiving 58 Pattern until I joined the Royal Regiment of Wales in 1979. Having used 37, 58 and PLCE, my preferred webbing was 58.