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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Indian water bottle for Sikh soldiers


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Good evening,

For a future project of a miniature historical figurine of a Sikh soldier, I am looking for the 2 dimensions of the round gourd visible in the vintage photo.
Can someone help me please?

While waiting for an answer, I wish you an excellent end of the day.




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A clearer photo may assist. This looks very much like the Mk IV enamel steel water bottle adopted in the 1890s and replaced by the Mk V & Mk VI after the turn of the century.

The Mk V was a very short lived product, the Mk VI being the standard blue enamel steel kidney shaped water bottle of WW1. The Mk V was similar to the Mk VI except it had a large funnel shaped spout.

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Hello Chasemuseum,

Thank you very much for these precisions which I did not know and which make it possible to learn.

Photos showing this model of water canister are rare - on GOOGLE - unfortunately.

Simply knowing the diameter would already be very good and for the thickness it would be possible to be logical but the best would be to simply know the 2 dimensions that the sculptor needs to decorate the future project of the miniature historical figurine.

If a person, collector or not collector can "light my lantern"   ( " éclairer ma lanterne "   - in french langage  ) by communicating to me the 2 dimensions, it would be perfect.


Best wishes


... for my text, it's Google translation :D

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I would have some concerns about the information that you have, but I guess it all depends upon your aim.

I am wondering if these men are camp followers or similar. If you are looking to make a sculpt based upon the image, fair enough. If you were going to make sculpts of Sikh infantrymen with these canteens, then I would think this unwise.

To use an idiom in use in French- and English-speaking countries, "a swallow does not make a summer". Are you making a reproduction of these turban-wearing stretcher-bearers, or are you looking to sculpt Sikh infantrymen? This canteen looks like a private purchase item. Given that the elliptical-shaped canteen is not a standard issue with Pattern 1903 webbing, I think there is some latitude when it comes to dimensions.



This may be worth a read:

"British Infantry Equipments 1808-1908" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.107) - Mike Chappell - ISBN 9780850453744

"Indian Infantry Regiments 1860-1914" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.92) - Michael Barthorp - ISBN 9780850453072

"The Indian Army 1914-1947" - Osprey (Elite Series No.75) - Ian Sumner - ISBN 9781841761961



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The canteen is more likely round rather than elliptical. That is a distortion given that the canteen is being viewed obliquely in the photo. That was why I asked if there were other photos available.



This is the Mk IV. It was issued with  a khaki felt cover although these have often disintegrated over time. It had a leather shoulder strap that passed through the three metal loops brazed to the bottle. Adopted 1895. The Mk I , II & III had a different shape to the spout. The Indian photo is definitely not a Mk I , II or III.


The US Army was also using a very similar canteen in the 1890s, but more discus shaped.


The Indian bottle appears to be in a webbing carrier but that is difficult to see from the quality of the photo.

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This picture taken from 'Getty' and appears to show an Indian soldier with a water bottle of the type illustrated by Chasemuseum above

image.jpeg.faf659dbfff24475e003eefc52da0407.jpeg  image.jpeg.ef471aeb4a9f1668144616178e791c9c.jpeg

Indian Water Bottle/Canteen


Another point worth making here is that already touched upon, or alluded to, by Keith:
there were specific Sikh regiments in the Indian army, however the 'caste returns' [for example see Appendix V of Tony McCleneghan's book 'For the Honour of My House'] suggest that sikhs were also found in many other regiments throughout the Indian army as well (eg: the Indian Transport Corps caste return lists Sikhs, as well as at least 14 other castes in its make-up.)
I also think that the Sikh in World War I would have been bearded, in keeping with the traditions of his faith.

Edited by michaeldr
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Michael's photo is quite interesting. The soldier has the cotton pointed cap with the turban wrapped around it. This is the headdress I have always associated with Sikhs in military service.

Certainly it was what the Sikh soldier in my regiment wore 46 years ago. He had to wear his own turban for several months until one was available through Army (Australian) stores. Back then lots of kit was in short supply. Our new Labor government appears to be re-engineering our army on the same model as the Labor government of the 70s. - We will buy absolutely the best equipment, but not for at least 5-years, and if we get re-elected the clock will reset for another 5 years. Lets do another "Strategic Defence Review" ...

Anyway getting back to Michael's photo. It shows a good display of P1903 for a dismounted soldier, with the 5-pocket bandolier, the great coat carrier, the haversack and the 2-inch leather belt. He is using a pair of the greatcoat leather straps, to suspend a groundsheet or some other rolled fabric from the waist belt. Not part of the method in the "Instructions" manual for P1903 but very sensible. He also has a P1907 bayonet on a frog. The frog is not visible, it could be any of several types. The bayonet scabbard appears to have the helve handle of the entrenching tool attached to it. Suggests either a P08 web frog or a P14 leather frog.  The water bottle is clearly a Mk IV with a leather sling.


Going back to the original post photo. Too hard to tell if it is a Mk IV but he is also carrying a second water bottle on the other side and this is clearly a Mk VI in the leather P1903 carrier. 






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Goodnight all,


I realize that I made a mistake :rolleyes:by writing "soldier" when I should have written "stretcher bearer"


Thank you very much for the list of these 3 books that I will acquire and I will study this.

Ross et Michael,

Thank you for the photos which will be useful.

Yes indeed, there were - if I understood correctly - several castes - .

Here are some photos that all come from Google searches :

a)The photo (AWM in Australia) where we see 4 stretcher-bearers, they seem to have beards and as Mickael writes, this is part of their religion since it is part of the 5 Ks.


b) I enclose - just for discussion / I hope it won't be a problem - the photo unfortunately in low resolution, and which comes from the AWM in Australia.

If you noticed different details on these 2 photos, I am glad to take it.
:poppy:All my sincere and respectful greetings :poppy:



Capture d’écran 2023-01-06 142331.jpg


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