One of the often overlooked items needed in prodigious quantities in modern militaries is grease. Greases and oils are used as both lubricants and as a way to reduce the effects of corrosion on metals as they act as a barrier preventing moisture and air from reaching the surface. The German Army in particular was to find itself hamstrung in the latter days of the Second World War by a lack of lubricating oils that were needed for everything from gearboxes to bicycle chains and this had a direct impact on its combat effectiveness as armoured vehicles broke down due to lack of lubrication. The British Army used a wide variety of different lubricating greases and these were issued in containers ranging from large twenty gallon drums down to the little tin of yellow mineral oil we are looking at today:
This little green tin is a little larger than a tin of shoe polish and is painted green with the words ‘Grease, Mineral Jelly, Yellow, 2oz’ printed on the front:
As would be expected with a tin of grease, the lid is a very secure fit and attaches like that on a paint can. Using a tool to lever it off however reveals the contents inside which are a light lubricating grease that would have a myriad of uses from greasing bearings to the aforementioned bicycles!
These small tins were ideal for small scale jobs as they were light and easy to use and prevented large amounts of wastage that might occur with larger containers. There were clearly many of these tins produced as they are very common on the collectors’ market and usually come complete with their contents like this example.
POL is the lifeblood of the military and so many different types…everything from 90 weight oil for gearboxes to penetrating oil to loosen seized parts and from almost solid ‘axle grease’ to light ‘honey’ grease for tiny O-rings in complex machinery, some greases were formulated to absorb into those O-rings and make them swell just a little for a tighter fit, others to just lubricate and seal them against any change in size.
Napoleon may have said “an army marches on it’s stomach” but today’s army, without POL, isn’t going to march very far very fast, or have its’ rations delivered on time 😉