.30 Caliber Wooden Ammo Boxes

When the .30 Cal. M1917 Browning machine gun was developed for the U.S. military during World War I, the ammunition was packed in wooden boxes suitable for direct feeding of the gun. Wooden packing crates were used for bulk shipping of ammunition, but the wood ammo boxes discussed on this page were analogous to the metal ammo cans used for belts of 250 rounds.

M1917A1 Browning machine gun belt-fed from wood .30 cal. ammunition box, Fort Benning, GA, June 1942
M1917A1 Browning machine gun belt-fed from wood .30 cal. ammunition box, Fort Benning, GA, June 1942.

Today in WW II: 15 May 1940 Dutch armies surrender to Germany.  More 
15 May 1942 Gas rationing begins for the Eastern United States.
15 May 1942 US Congress authorizes Women's Auxiliary Army Corps [WAAC].
15 May 1944 Germans begin withdrawal from the Gustav Line to new positions south of Rome, Italy.
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

.30 Caliber Wood Ammunition Boxes

M1917A1 machine gun with attached wood ammo box for a belt of .30-06 cartridges, Caribbean area, circa 1942
M1917A1 machine gun with attached wood ammo box for a belt of .30-06 cartridges, Caribbean area, circa 1942.

The wooden boxes for .30 Cal. ammunition were originally issued during WW I with the then new .30 Cal. M1917 Browning machine gun for its ammunition, the .30-06 cartridge in fabric belts. The boxes evolved in construction details and markings until replaced by the metal Cal .30 M1 Ammunition Can early in WW II.

M1917A1 machine gun with attached wood ammo box for a belt of .30-06 cartridges
M1917A1 machine gun with attached wood ammo box for a belt of .30-06 cartridges.

Key construction details for the wood .30 caliber ammo boxes consisted of oak or ash material, dovetail or lap joints, a leather or webbing strap on top fitted into a rectangular groove with a centered circular pick-up area, open-lid feed, spring-loaded lid latch to gun-side panel, and far-end hinge. A slot in the gun-side panel made a firm attachment to the gun.

The bottom panel and gun-side panel of the box were shortened, to avoid contact with the mount. A diagonal panel joins the two and completes the closure of the bottom. Flat head screws were used to secure the bottom to the sides of the box.

CHEST 49-1-84

If painted at all, flat olive drab paint was used for the box. The bottom of the interior of the box was stenciled with the orientation of the ammunition contents. Some of the .30 caliber wood ammo boxes are stenciled outside with "CHEST 49-1-84".

Another photo of the wood .30 cal. ammo box is at the top of the Olive-Drab.com page about .30-06 Military Ammo.

Recommended Book about the US Army in World War I

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