Category Archives: waterbottle

1901 Pattern Water-bottle Carrier

Despite being a maritime force, the Royal Navy has always expected its sailors to be trained to go ashore and act as a landing party for a short period of time. This need to be able to act as both an infantry force and as a lightly equipped boarding party for seizing enemy ships has ensured that from Victorian times to the present day ships have carried a supply of load bearing equipment to be issued out to matelots as and when needed. Although these days it is normally an older pattern of army equipment that suffices (most commonly PLCE), during the first half of the twentieth century the RN used its own unique patterns of equipment. As a sailor was as likely to be equipped with a pistol and cutlass as a rifle and bayonet the navy had rather different requirements to the army.

In 1901 a new and innovative leather load bearing system was introduced, using a leather bandolier, anticipating the army’s 1903 pattern by a couple of years. As can be imagined this set is not easy to track down, so I was delighted to be able to finally pick up my first piece recently. This is the MkII 1901 pattern water-bottle introduced from 1903 onwards:imageAs can be seen, from the front it looks virtually identical to the Carrier, Water-bottle, Other Services, commonly associated with the 1903 pattern leather equipment. The carrier is made from brown leather, sewn and riveted together:imageSadly this example is missing its carrying strap but I am planning to get a reproduction made. Turning to the reverse face of the carrier though we can see that there is a distinctive leather reinforcing strap on the rear and a leather tab riveted to the rest of the carrier. This has a strip of brass within for rigidity:imageThe waterbottle was fitted last when putting on the equipment, so it could be taken off easily and the 1907 ‘Rifle and Field Exercises for His Majesty’s Fleet’ instructed sailors:

Place the water-bottle sling over the left shoulder so as to allow the water-bottle to hang against the right hip, and steady it by placing the steadying clip into the belt.

Two iron rings at the top of the carrier provide a place for the sling to attach:


I have studied the carrier carefully and the only marking I can find is a single ‘4’ stamped on the rear so we don’t when it was made or by whom. The number might be an internal stores number from a ship or base used to identify which sailor was issued with which set of equipment. The 1901 equipment was widely used by the RN division when it first went to the western front in WW1 and was to remain in use even after the introduction of 1919 pattern webbing. It was finally declared obsolete in 1943 when it was to be replaced by 37 pattern webbing on auxiliary vessels.rnd_play_big

Other Services Water Bottle Carrier

Whilst most troops are issued with some form of webbing, there are always some who do not need a full set of equipment and today’s object is part of the webbing used by those personnel. The webbing Water Bottle Carrier, Other Services was introduced in 1943 and replaced an equivelant leather example. The carrier was used by services such as the ATS and drivers who would not need a set of 37 pattern webbing.

The carrier consists of a webbing cradle for the bottle with an adjustable shoulder strap:

669F95B2-1895-433A-A8B3-D0B5DE980420 The strap is adjusted by a buckle that allows it to be shortened or lengthened:

43724634-FEDA-440D-A847-60C1A078CF6C This example is stamped inside with a date of 1953:

C7987E6D-132E-4A65-A56E-591C5C16B609 As can be seen there is also a /|\ mark and a stores code. These water bottle carriers  seem to have come on the market in large quantities in the last few months. This example was a buy it now from eBay and the seller had loads more available for under a tenner. They had rather limited use, but at that price are a nice pick up for the collection.



44 Pattern Water Bottle (Continued)

Following yesterday’s post on the 44 pattern water bottle, I have been kindly sent some photographs showing the differences between the early and late pattern caps. As can be seen in the photographs below the early metal cap was replaced with a rubber cap. The two bottles are different so the caps are not interchangeable as the neck of the bottle with the rubber top is slightly narrower . (Courtesy of the Darren Pyper collection)




44 Pattern Water Bottle and Carrier

Tonight we are looking at the 44 pattern water bottle and carrier. Perhaps the surprising thing about the 44 pattern water bottle is how long it took to be introduced. Even before the 37 pattern webbing set had been issued to troops it was clear that the enamelled steel water bottle was hopelessly outmoded. It was an awkward shape, impossible to clean properly, the enamel chipped easily allowing it to rust and the cork rotted and disintegrated after extensive use. These problems were all apparent before the war and an aluminium bottle was introduced- and then rapidly withdrawn.

 Both the water bottle and its holder draw heavily upon the US M1910 water bottle and cradle. The 44 pattern webbing finally took notice of the design that the Americans had been using for the last 34 years and gave the British Soldier his first effective modern water bottle:

5D61C982-B7ED-4CCC-B103-CD56E0E06DBFFrom above we can see the wire hook that allows the water bottle and carrier to be slung from the 44 pattern belt:

291D30B7-E3CA-4CFE-A7AB-EF49A5E2CD16The bottle itself is made from aluminium, without seams that can leak. This is an early pattern bottle as it has a metal rather than a plastic top:

B99753B2-ADE1-4541-985E-8692BAE8CE05The cup is also made of metal with two wire handles that interlock for stability:

0F87F866-56F1-47D3-81C3-028B50D16E9DThis cup was highly prized by troops as it could be heated directly, unlike the plastic examples used on the later 58 pattern set. The bottle slots into the cup for storage:

56DAF9B4-833F-449B-9C93-55A7374F44A1In the rear of the cover is a small pocket to hold a Millbank bag:74168F9D-161A-47DB-AE76-1EBB25FF9907This is a filtration bag, it is filled with water and suspended, allowing the water to drip through leaving any impurities behind. Sterilising tablets can then be added to make it safe to drink. This example is dated 1945:208A380C-1C71-441D-BFD7-705014332F21And a set of instructions for use are printed on a label near the mouth:

ABD2E434-7C02-4966-99C5-C6A9EC61629BThe 44 pattern water bottle has remained highly popular with troops, even after it was officially withdrawn as obsolete and is still sought after by those serving today. Not surprisingly then examples are not as common or cheap as their more numerous predecessors.

Indian Waterbottle and Carrier

As has been discussed on this blog before, India produced its own webbing in WW2, which whilst based on the British 37 pattern was made of thinner and inferior materials. Whilst for the most part this webbing was a straight copy, a number of local modifications can be found. One of the most obvious is the water bottle carrier, where a new method of fastening the cradle was introduced.

The cradle itself is a straight copy of the British design:


With a skeleton structure of ¾” webbing, the cradle fastens to the rest of the 37 pattern webbing by two brass buckles:CC7C7087-3964-4C98-9E8A-8A0C4D2730A5

The change comes in the fastening of the cradle, instead of a press stud a buckle is used:

C6456315-D064-4458-8991-0D59CF31DB35The buckles date the carrier to 1942:

B16E58A7-9942-4702-B703-3016E884E259The bottle itself on my example is also interesting, this is an Indian produced bottle by the Metal Box Company Calcutta. Instead of the usual green or blue enamel, the bottle has been painted in a crude sand coloured paint:

8D23A8C2-574C-4C96-8067-8F7757C28056There are no loops for the cork cord to attach to so it must have been sewn to the felt cover like early British bottles. Underneath the felt cover the bottle looks like this (Apologies for the poorer quality photo here, it is one I took a while back and I really don’t fancy resewing the felt cover!):

B3A6B567-47A0-40AC-BF31-A77D0DD95FE5With the manufacturers mark lightly pressed into the base:


As far as I am aware no other documented example of this bottle exists, but if further examples exist in other collections I would be fascinated to see pictures. The quality of the bottle is frankly appalling and clearly shows that the metal working industry in India at this time was not as sophisticated as that back in Britain. Ironically this bottle also illustrates the difficulty of explaining our hobby to relations, I bought this for 50p on a car boot sale and my wife’s response was “what do you want that bit of junk for?”

Aluminium Water Bottle

Bottle, water, aluminium.

In the final years before the outbreak of the Second World War, the British army was looking at a variety of designs for updating its uniforms, weapons and equipment. One area they looked into was replacing tinned steel mess tins and enamelled water bottles with aluminium alternatives. Aluminium was lighter, shaving a few ounces from the soldiers burden; and more hygienic it didn’t rust:imageThe water bottle is based on the earlier enamelled version, with a flat top:imageThe cork is the standard type used on all British water bottles of the period, attached to a string that attaches through a loop next to the spout:imageOn the base is a maker’s mark and date, M.M.S. 1939:imageThe bottle is painted in an overall drab green paint and no felt cover was issued with these bottles.

These bottles were never very common, with the outbreak of the Second World War curtailing their introduction. They were withdrawn and recalled for salvage in 1941, with aluminium being considered a strategic resource. Therefore surviving examples are becoming increasingly hard to find. The green army version is more common, whilst I have only ever seen a blue painted RAF version once on a dealer’s website. Needless to say it was not cheap!

Tuesday Finds

The usual morning trip to the market has turned up a few nice bits again. Whilst I went a little over my budget, I am pleased with what I’ve picked up and there are some very nice bits.

WRENS Jacket

I have a large number of uniforms within my collection, from all three services covering the whole of the twentieth century. However up until now all these uniforms have been for men. I have not consciously avoided adding women’s uniforms to my collection, however there are fewer of them out there due to the much smaller numbers of female service personnel and consequently they are often more expensive than their male equivalents.

I have finally rectified this by purchasing a jacket which would have been worn by a second officer (lieutenant) in the Womens’ Royal Naval Service, or WRENS. The WRENS were founded in the First World War and despite being disbanded in 1919 and reformed in 1939. It was the only women’s branch of the armed forces to retain its name after WW2 and it retained its seperate identity until it was absorbed into the main Royal Navy in 1993.

imageThe WRNS officer uniform was based on its male equivalent, this example being made of fine barathea, fastened by a double row of gilt king’s crown naval buttons:


 Light blue lace at the cuffs indicates rank, with a diamond replacing the male ‘executive curl’:imageThe navy were also unique amongst the armed forces in having jackets that fastened in the female style i.e. right over left. This example has the medal ribbons for the Defence Medal and the War Medal:image

Britsh MkVII waterbottle

Based on the design of waterbottle issued in the Great War, the Mark VII was an updated version introduced just before the Second World War. The old Blue enamel was replaced by a dark green version and instead of stitching the string holding the cork to the felt cover it was now fastened to a small wire eye welded to the neck of the 4This design of waterbottle would be used throughout the war and into the 1960s. This example is missing its felt covering and has a few knocks but is in good condition otherwise; it is faintly marked 1955 on the base. I have a fair few of these now, but due to the different webbing sets I am collecting i can always use a few more.

Postcard of Dragoon Guards

This rather battered postcard cost me the princely sum of 50p. According to the inscription on the back it shows the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards’ Colours and Escort at Haworth, a small town in West Yorkshire, famous as the home of the Bronte Sisters.

The  4th Dragoon Guards were raised in 1685 and became famous in the First World War when a squadron became the first element on the British Expeditionary Force to engage the German Army in 1914 in Mons. The Regiment was amalgamated with the 7th Dragoon Guards in 1922 to form the 4th/7th Dragoon 3The dress of the civilians and the use of Full Dress uniform leads me to believe the photo was taken before the First World War, whilst the small figure of a soldier in Service Date in the background dates it to after 1902 when that uniform was introduced.

British Passport

Whilst not strictly military, I bought this passport mainly for one reason: the Visa stamped inside. The use of passport documents in the UK goes back to 1414, but the widespread issue of such documents really began during the First World War, despite widespread opposition from the British public throughout the interwar 1

This passport was issued to Mr Rowland Hardcastle of Leeds on 28th April 1937. Mr Hardcastle is described as being 5 ft 3 1/2 inches with blue eyes and dark brown hair and born on 5th August 1905. There are a number of foreign visas stamped inside, the most interesting being this one:

photo 2Issued in 1938 by the German consulate in Liverpool, this visa stamp has the Nazi swastika and eagle stamp clearly visible. By the stamps he seems to have had business in Cologne. It is sobering to realise that just a year later Britain and Germany were in a head long slide to war.