Mystery Cans Revisited, With Pic

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Mystery Cans Revisited, With Pic

Postby gerrykan » Sun Apr 29, 2007 11:10 am

In this picture taken after the battle for Tarawa, in the lower portion of the photo there is a pile of jerrycans. The lone can to the left of the pile and the four cans at the upper most portion of the pile can easily be identified as mystery cans(early German style). So here you have five of this style can in the Pacific, on one island with the USMC in 1943. It seems to me with the photographic evidence that has been found so far showing these cans in action with the USMC in WWII, that although it may not 'prove beyond a shadow of a doubt', surely the 'preponderance of the evidence' sways to the side that these cans were in fact the first cans used by the Marine Corps before the dated CONCO cans. Of course this is just my opinion on this subject and everyone is entitled to their own, after all it would be a very boring world if we all agreed on everything.
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Postby Robin » Sun Apr 29, 2007 9:45 pm

That "mystery" can continues to bother me. I've been obsessing over it all day today and I have a wild-assed guess to share.
Since that photo was taken on Tarawa, let's try this on for size: The 2nd Marine Division was stationed on New Zealand before it sailed to Tarawa. Could those cans have been made there? Or maybe Australia? Wait, there's more.
US made gas cans, and 55 gallon fuel drums, were made under the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commision rules, hence the ICC marks on the cans and drums. Water cans are not marked with an ICC number, so I presume they were exempted from the ICC regs? Since the "mystery" can has no ICC markings, they could have been made for water, except they are not lined like any USQMC water cans are, so that shoots down the water can theory. So, since they do not have an ICC marking, could it be that they were made outside of the continental USA, where the ICC regs wouldn't apply? i.e New Zealand, Australia, or maybe, possibly, Hawaii?

And one more observation about that photo. I see 12 empty cans in the picture. That's 60 gallons of gas. Tarawa was only a few hundred yards long, and even narrower yet. A Jeep could drive back and forth for a week on Tarawa on 60 gallons of gas. My first thought was that the gas cans may have been used to carry fuel for flamethrowers, but more study proved that they didn't refill flamethrower tanks from Jerry cans, but from 55 gallon drums that were under pressure. Thickened fuel doesn't flow very well under gravity alone, according to TM 3-375 Portable Flame Throwers M1 and M1A1 May 1943.
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Postby armydriver » Mon Apr 30, 2007 8:19 am

Robin, it stands to reason that any cans manufactured in Australia or New Zeland would be like the British cans, or even manufactured in England. I love the photo with all of the empty fuel cans, but hand towed carts in the background. :D
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Postby gerrykan » Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:46 pm

First, what can be seen in the original photo, but not so clear in the scan, is that the Marines behind the handcarts are sitting and leaning on a jeep. There is another jeep across the road to the khaki uniformed man's left. However armydriver, I did enjoy your wisecrack about the handcarts :lol:

The caption on the back of the photo reads: "Marines marching along Tarawa road after battle, preparing to board the ships that brought them to Tarawa. On the left are other Marines who remained on the island to hold what they fought for." The picture is not dated.

Also across the road from the jerrycans a Marine is sitting on a 55 gal. drum(possibly for the flamethrowers). I have not read an official battle history, but a timeline gleaned from the web, puts the Marines starting to withdraw after about a week. Some tanks and amtracs did operate on the island but I will agree with you(Robin), that one wouldn't think very much fuel would be used. The airfield probably sustained some damage, but would the Marines repair it, or would the Seabees. And if the latter would they be using USMC cans, or USN cans :?

It also appears that the lids were left open or at least not cammed down. While I wouldn't think you would want sand in either type of can, an empty sealed fuel can in the Pacific sun would probably undergo some swelling.

The worst thing about the ICC markings is not enough information. Did a can have to be marked ICC5L, or just meet the specs? I have seen civilian cans of the era in which some are marked, and some aren't. Was this a requirement if the can might be shipped on a common carrier? Working for the Government, I know that if you fail to put an item in the bid specs(such as; stamped ICC5L), you will not get it on the final product. Without some early specs, we will never know for sure, but I do have 1941 cans from Wheeling and NESCO with the 'G' on the side, both with and without the ICC5L stampings. Did early 1941 QMC cans not have ICC5L stamped in or was this a parts mix up using 1941 water can bottoms on gas cans at two different manufacturers? But alas, as usual the deeper we delve the more questions that are unearthed.
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Postby Robin » Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:36 pm

I'm going to make a point of going to our state library, and see if I can find anything that covers the ICC regulations from the 1930-1940 period. I have a civilian 50 gallon drum, that is marked ICC5B 16-50-31. 16 gauge metal, 50 gallon capacity, and 1931 year of production. It's a galvanized drum. Now I'm wondering why 5 gallon jerry cans are marked ICC5L and drums are marked ICC5B. The flamethrower manual that I quoted from says the 55 gallon drums are to be marked ICC5A, and NOT to be galvanized. The book stresses NOT GALVANIZED over and over, to include 5 and 10 gallon buckets used to mix flamethrower fuel. So does ICC5A mean ungalvanized, and ICC5B galvanized? What does ICC5L mean then? You're right, the more you look at it, the more questions come up.
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Postby Robin » Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:38 pm

And I like the M1942 USMC handcarts as well! I have one here in my garage. Those trunks that are sitting on them could be the service kits for flamethrowers. They look to be about the right size by comparing them to the manual.
41 M3 37mm A/T gun
42 M1A1 75mm pack how
43 MBT trailer
43 WC52
43 WC62
44 Chevy 1.5 ton
44 MZ2 USMC radio Jeep
44 RL35 reel cart
44 K-38 trailer
43 K-52 trailer
43 M3A4 handcarts(8)
M1942 USMC handcart
M1917 Wheeled Litter Carrier
43 Columbia bike
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Postby gerrykan » Tue May 01, 2007 4:52 am

Was the fuel for the flamethrowers a form of diesel? Because if I remember correctly, you are not to put diesel fuel in a galvanized container, as the chemical reaction will create sulfuric acid.
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Postby armydriver » Wed May 02, 2007 6:23 am

My neighbor, two houses up from me was a corporal in the 2nd Marine Division and got the Purple Heart at Tarawa. He was wounded in the leg from machine gun fire. He was at Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Siapan. His rifle for the whole time he was in the Pacific was a 1903 Springfield.
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Postby bombtech » Thu May 03, 2007 5:51 pm

Robin, May I suggest you back up your research on ICC to at least the turn of the century. My WWI, 50ish gallon, galvanized drum has the following impressions:
Associated Oil Co
ICC 5 (with anchor)
Pat JUNE 30 08
30378 4-18
This drum also has a brass plate tacked to it with the following:
M'F'D' before 3-31-12
ICC-5
Tested 4-1-26
The man I got this drum from worked at both the Atlantic refining and Shell terminal between the wars. He said the Army used these drums during the World War and later were returned to the company. He bought oil in one, carried it back to the farm and had it ever since.
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Postby gerrykan » Sun May 06, 2007 2:42 pm

armydriver,
The next time you see your veteran neighbor, please extend my personal thanks for his service and sacrifice for our country.
Roy

Robin,
Although I have never researched Federal records(so I have no expertise in this field), from my online inquiries, it appears the detailed information that we would like to acquire will require countless hours sifting through paper and microfilm files at the Federal archives at College Park, Maryland. This is the best I could come up with: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide- ... s/134.html
Above the 'Table of Contents', if you click on "Overview of Records Locations", and scroll down to records group 134, you will find that most of the ICC records are retained at College Park(over 31,000 cubic feet of records). I would love to find the info we require, but do not have the time necessary to travel to the archives, and sort through the documents.
Roy
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Postby lucakiki » Mon May 07, 2007 12:58 am

Robin wrote:That "mystery" can continues to bother me. I've been obsessing over it all day today and I have a wild-assed guess to share.
Since that photo was taken on Tarawa, let's try this on for size: The 2nd Marine Division was stationed on New Zealand before it sailed to Tarawa. Could those cans have been made there? Or maybe Australia? Wait, there's more.
US made gas cans, and 55 gallon fuel drums, were made under the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commision rules, hence the ICC marks on the cans and drums. Water cans are not marked with an ICC number, so I presume they were exempted from the ICC regs? Since the "mystery" can has no ICC markings, they could have been made for water, except they are not lined like any USQMC water cans are, so that shoots down the water can theory. So, since they do not have an ICC marking, could it be that they were made outside of the continental USA, where the ICC regs wouldn't apply? i.e New Zealand, Australia, or maybe, possibly, Hawaii?

And one more observation about that photo. I see 12 empty cans in the picture. That's 60 gallons of gas. Tarawa was only a few hundred yards long, and even narrower yet. A Jeep could drive back and forth for a week on Tarawa on 60 gallons of gas. My first thought was that the gas cans may have been used to carry fuel for flamethrowers, but more study proved that they didn't refill flamethrower tanks from Jerry cans, but from 55 gallon drums that were under pressure. Thickened fuel doesn't flow very well under gravity alone, according to TM 3-375 Portable Flame Throwers M1 and M1A1 May 1943.


How comes that such mistery cans were also used by british troops on the ETO? There are pictures of British pattern cans and mistery cans on the same jeep.

While speaking of mistery cans, I remember posting , quite a long time ago,about mistery cans not totally deprived of any writing whatsoever as the usual mistery cans. I used to own some, and gave them away as at that time I did not care of any can not 1944 dated.
Here is a picture ( from Mugello Ruggine) that depicts a jerrycan with the mistery can pattern ( X ) and some stamped in marking:
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Can Can

Postby Chuck Lutz » Fri May 11, 2007 8:09 am

Hmm.....I go with the idea that the mystery cans were early versions of the US made jerry can. The Marines certainly had some early on in the Pacific and I would imagine that either Lend-Lease or outright purchases or gifts to the Brits early on could include these same mystery cans.

I might point out that there are at least two if not three different styles of the American-made mystery cans with no identifying stampings on them. The first I believe had a ROUND spout hole for pouring. The second had the familiar German-style and British-style spout on it. I have also seen a couple slightly different fabrication details on the caps on the spouts so I believe that there were a few different attempts to design the American version before the familiar can we see the most of was produced.

As far as the pile of cans on Tarawa, this being the hot-climate area of the Pacific, water would need to have been provided in LARGE quantities on a daily basis to the troops, gasoline not so much.....I wonder if that pile simply holds both water and gas cans, and the fact that the caps are OPEN, to prevent expansion and rupture of a can in the hot sun leads me to believe they have been rounded up and are awaiting salvage and re-use.

When you guys post info on the mystery cans, could you mention if the spout is ROUND or the more common oblong style?
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Postby Mark Tombleson » Fri May 11, 2007 11:17 am

Documentation I have reviewed (Joint Army/USMC) officer's field manuals dated 10 September 1944 shows jeeps were allotted 15 gallons of gas per day on these islands with radio jeeps getting 21 gallons per day. There were 41 ambulance jeeps, 66 radio jeeps and 104 standard jeeps used per Division during an assault. Larger vehicles used 55 gallon drums.

Contrast that with each Marine requiring 1/2 gallon of water per day. That is about 19000 men per Division at the start of the invasion. I know they used the cam lock CONCO cans for water as they were marked WATER in white paint and delivered to short filled by the pallet load to start with. The USMC had all kinds of water distilleries.

Say the jeeps needed (41+104) x 15 + 66 x 21 = 3561 / 5 = 712 each 5 gallon cans have gas a day after the first day per Division.

The Marines needed 19000 x .5 / 5 = 1900 - 5 gallon cans of water a day after the first day.

Therefore, out of 2612 cans, 27% were gas and 73% were water.

Oh, portable flame throwers were allotted 5 gallons of fuel per day and tanks 135 gallons per day.

Now, I admit this is 1944 and I have not seen earlier documentation, however, the allotments should be similar.

As to where the unmarked cans came from, let’s just make a wild guess the USMC needed at least 2 days worth of cans, say 5000 per Division, three Divisions per invasion with all cans left of each island. That would be about 15000 cans per island. That is not a whole lot of cans when you look at how many must have been produced. Early cans may have come from Britain as no ICC marking.
I have seen or have photos of 5 gallon cans marked ICC-5, 5L and DOT-5B, 5L and 55 gallon drums marked ICC-5B.
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Re: Can Can

Postby lucakiki » Fri May 11, 2007 2:48 pm

Chuck Lutz wrote:When you guys post info on the mystery cans, could you mention if the spout is ROUND or the more common oblong style?

When speaking of mistery cans, the european kind of spout ( German,Italian, British ) is taken for granted. The position of the hole or lack of the same on the cap tab, that was discussed before, does not really give a clue. And an American origin does not explain the presence of this kind of cans along british pattern ed ones on British jeeps on the ETO.
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WillysMB#344142 6-19-44 Navy N.S.Blue Grey
45 Bantam T-3 #57248 1-10-45
42 Willys MB-T #13560 11-42
43 Willys MB-T # 25417 4-43
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Postby Robin » Fri May 11, 2007 9:20 pm

I would like to see a photo of the mystery can on a British Jeep. So far all we have seen are the cans in the hands of the US Marine Corps.
41 M3 37mm A/T gun
42 M1A1 75mm pack how
43 MBT trailer
43 WC52
43 WC62
44 Chevy 1.5 ton
44 MZ2 USMC radio Jeep
44 RL35 reel cart
44 K-38 trailer
43 K-52 trailer
43 M3A4 handcarts(8)
M1942 USMC handcart
M1917 Wheeled Litter Carrier
43 Columbia bike
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