Canteens have been used by many people in different situations. They are perhaps best known for being used by service men and women. Originally canteens used by soldiers were made of wood with a nozzle. Soon materials like tin, aluminum or other types of metal were used to make canteens.
Canteens are also an important part of soldiers gear because they played a huge role in hygiene. Germs are spread through the air and by other means. When soldiers would share the thing to drink out of, germs were easily passed along. Canteens prevented that by allowing each soldier to have his own canteen from which to drink. They also allow soldiers who are stationed in areas without fresh water, the chance to carry water with them. This helps with dehydration but also it prevents the soldiers from drinking bad water that can make them sick.
Canteens used by service men/women in the U.S. are put through tests to make sure it is in tip top shape before a soldier uses it. The tests include placing an air compressor nozzle in the mouth of the canteen and then submersing it in water to see if there are any air leaks. Canteens used in the early years of the service had several problems. They would not keep beverages at a desired constant temperature, they were hard to carry and they would rust. Canteens just from WWI changed a lot, and to learn more about canteens during WWI click here. Today the problems have been fixed and are an essential part of equipment for soldiers. To learn more about canteens in the military visit here.
The canteen we have in our collection here at the High Plains Museum is made of aluminum. It was donated by Grace Detmer and probably belonged to her husband Jack, a prominent citizen of Goodland. The canteen has a twist off top with a ring, which allowed for easier carrying.
People who are not in the service use canteens as well, though some of these look a little different. Hikers and campers are just two examples but many others use them as well. A number of companies sell canteens including Alibaba, EC21, and companies that sell canteens like soldiers use. Some of the canteens that have been patented have added new features. One by Kevin Mcguigan contains an ultraviolet light that will disinfect the water in the canteen. This eliminates the worry of the water source. Others like Almerigo Sartore’s invention are made particularly for people who play sports while Simon Hem’s are a combined canteen, lunchbox and removable tray.
Canteens have played a role in helping soldiers keep their health and stop dehydration. Tests have been performed on canteens to ensure they are the best that can be offered. Innovation with canteens has come a long way as well, from ultraviolet lights that disinfect water to canteens that are geared to certain needs, the canteen is an object that we will continue to use.
Do you have a canteen story that you’d like to share? Please leave your stories in the comments section below.
Look for more posts in this series about our wonderful collection of Sherman County history.