Marine Corps Canteen Cover

The U.S. Marine Corps had a distinctive carrier for the M1910 canteen, similar but visually different from the standard cotton duck cover. This USMC-pattern cover was produced, with variations, from about 1912 into the 1950s.

A Marine watches the Dog atomic test at the Nevada Proving Ground, 1 May 1952.  Two USMC cross-flap canteen covers are on his utility belt, with a jungle first aid kit between
A Marine watches the Dog atomic test at the Nevada Proving Ground, 1 May 1952. Two USMC cross-flap canteen covers are on his utility belt, with a jungle first aid kit between.

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Cover, Canteen, USMC

Soon after the M1910 canteen and cover were standardized for the U.S. military, the Marine Corps assigned manufacturing of the covers (among other equipment) to the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot. By 1914, they were producing canteen covers in olive green with USMC Eagle and Anchor snap button fasteners, marked inside one of the flaps with DQP (Depot Quartermaster Philadelphia) and the production date. Different from the Army model, the USMC M1910 hanger was iron, not brass, was formed with an angle, and was mounted high up on the back of the cover. The front of the USMC cover came up high in the center, so the canteen body was more "tucked in" than with the Army cover. The USMC model cover was also typically unlined, although some production was wool lined. In general, although very similar to the standard M1910 cotton carrier used by the Army, there were always small distinctions, unique to the Marines.

USMC World War I production was vastly expanded at DQP and several production variations have been noted running from 1917 through to World War II. The color was changed to khaki, the overall size was smaller, and LTD fasteners replaced the USMC Eagle and Anchor buttons (or Durasnap buttons, also used before WW I). Multiple lines of vertical stitching appeared on the back around 1918. Production from various sources contracted by DQP did not have identical features, so it is difficult to date a cover merely by the presence or absence of a particular detail.

DQP continued production for the Marine Corps through WW II. Starting in 1943, the most visible change was made with the introduction of "dog ear" crossed flaps. Instead of the flaps connecting to fasteners on the same side of the cover, this style looked like folded arms, with each flap going to an LTD fastener on the opposite side (top photo). This style of cover had a front seam and the typical USMC high-mounted hook.

About half of these cross-flap covers had a one-inch hole in the cover bottom, with a stitched edge like a large button hole. This hole was used for water distribution. The hole in the cover bottom would fit onto the neck of a canteen as a funnel, reducing the waste of water during filling from water trailers or jerry cans.

Photos from WW II and Korea show Marines equipped with the cross flap covers, but many Marines continued to be equipped with other variations, often in the same unit. In addition to other WW II production varieties and inventory from earlier production, canteen covers produced for the Marines included side-seam covers that were essentially the same as the Army used, but with USMC stencilled on the front instead of US.

Following the end of WW II, it became less common for the Marine Corps to have canteen covers manufactured with USMC markings. A contract in 1952 has been identified, but it is not known if there were USMC-specific marked covers produced after that date. Standardization across the U.S. armed services meant that basic equipment, including canteens, were shared as much as possible between the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and other services. With the introduction of the M1956 web gear, the USMC used the same canteen covers as the Army and other services.

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