SADF Mess Tins

The South African Army at the end of World War II was using  tinned steel mess tins of a similar pattern to that used by the rest of the British Empire. Whilst fine as a wartime expedient, the South Africans were keen to return to aluminium mess tins that they had been experimenting with in the 1930s once war was over. By the 1970s the mess tins had been replaced with a new design that was shallower and had side folding handles, rather than handles that folded over the top:

If this design looks familiar, it is because the Australian Army adopted an almost identical pattern at around the same time. The mess tins nest inside each other and can be pulled apart to give two separate pans:

The handles fold back to create a convenient place to grip the tins:

The handles are secured to the tin with a set of rivets and between the two handles the tins are marked with the SADF property mark, manufacturer and a date, in this case 1963:

As mess tins all look identical, men often scratched their names and numbers onto the tins to be able to identify their own set, here we can see that a W Lourens of 143 Battery originally used this pair:

In South African service mess tins were usually referred to as a ‘dixie’ and together with a ‘fire bucket’ (metal cup) and ‘pikstel’ (knife, fork and spoon) made up the eating equipment for the field, in barracks these were replaced with a ‘varkpan’ tray instead:

One comment

  1. Love how the can in the cartoon has a cow on the label but says ‘corned meat’ and not ‘corned beef’ because as anyone who’s ever eaten in the field knows…”you can never really be sure” 😉

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