Australian Woolen Canteen Cover

The Australian Army adopted the plastic canteen for its troops at the same time as the M56 equipment set, however the priority for the webbing was getting it out to front line troops whilst those in training continued to use the 1937 pattern webbing set. The production of plastic bottles far exceeded the M56 sets and so examples were available for training units as a marked improvement over the Mk VII enamelled water bottles they had been using up until this point. The new plastic bottles would fit in the 1937 Pattern cradle, however they lacked the passing and insulation that the M56 canteen carrier afforded and so the water became warm and brackish quickly in warm weather and could freeze and crack the plastic bottles in cold weather. With little chance of getting M56 webbing out to training units any time soon, as an expedient a woollen felt cover was produced that could be placed over the bottle and provide some insulation to it. The cover is made from thin khaki wool, very similar to that which had been used on the Mk VII cover:

A pair of flaps are fitted at the shoulders with green enamelled press studs to go over the shoulder of the bottle and secure it into the cover:

The bottle is a snug fit, but it is not too difficult to get it into the cover (note here I am using a metal commercial bottle to illustrate the cover rather than a genuine Australian example):

The bottle in the cover can then be fitted into one of the 37 pattern water bottle cradles and attached to the rest of the webbing set:

Photographic evidence suggests that these covers did not see much use and men normally just placed the bottles in the carriers without the covers. Most examples found today are unissued, like this example. Some have a /|\ mark inked onto the cover but this example does not have one. Some examples are dated and they indicate that these covers were manufactured in the late 1960s.

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