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SRD Jars


auchonvillerssomme
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As far as i'm aware SRD jars were used to store all types of liquids from ink to spirits to EUSOL (Edinburgh University Solution of Lime, a solution used to debride and treat infected wounds).

Some have a letter stamped on the shoulder, can anyone tell me what those letters mean? I'm looking at a small one now stamped with an 'E', i have seen an 'S' which I thought might mean 'spirits'

Also does anyone have a picture of one with a handle?

Please please don't get into any discussions about what SRD means, lifes to short.

Mick

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  • 2 weeks later...

I find it hard to beleive that no ones even commented on this question about the impressed letters.

Has anyone got jars with letters other than E or S?

Mick

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As you know Mick (sorry, but the point is relevant) SRD is 'Supply Reserve Depot' and the letters of course have nothing to do with rum - in the same way I would have thought the E or S or whatever has nothing to do with any likely other contents (as jars were 'universal') and is perhaps a manufacturer or batch code?

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now max thats more like it.... when i was discussing this with a friend some time a go he said that it was to do with whether the contents were drinkable or non drinkable. the nature of the jar being that the same jar couldn't be used for both, unlike the petrol tins being used for water...although the opinion about whether the water was actually drinkable would have probably been argued by the troops.

Mick

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now max thats more like it.... when i was discussing this with a friend some time a go he said that it was to do with whether the contents were drinkable or non drinkable. the nature of the jar being that the same jar couldn't be used for both, unlike the petrol tins being used for water...although the opinion about whether the water was actually drinkable would have probably been argued by the troops.

Mick

I actually did post a reply to the original question, but realised it didn't actually answer your question and so immediately deleted it to avoid confusion!

The contents of the jar weren't denoted by markings on the jar itself, but by coloured bands painted around the wicker cover that each jar would originally have had - off the top of my head, the only one I can remember is that red denoted a "rum" jar, and I have an example of World War vintage in my collection with the original cover and red painted band still intact.

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The jars were used quite late on. this is an excerpt from a man talking about Malaya 1952-1955

'The depot supplied the units in North Malaya with food, petrol oil and lubricants (POL). This was mainly, dry rations, fresh meat, vegetables and fresh bread. There was also a “bonded” store for rum. This rum was kept in large stone jars, marked SRD, in a wicker & straw crates. The rum was over 100% proof. Strangely, I never heard of it “evaporation” or leaking – although it possibly did. This was for issue to Jungle Patrols – especially Gurkhas, who are very fond of rum'.

Mick

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2...This rum was kept in large stone jars, marked SRD, in a wicker & straw crates. The rum was over 100% proof. Strangely, I never heard of it “evaporation” or leaking – although it possibly did. This was for issue to Jungle Patrols – especially Gurkhas, who are very fond of rum'..."

It would be a brave (or foolish) man who tried to steal the Gurkhas' rum ration.

Tom t W

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Interesting stuff. One thing I do know, short of shrapnel balls, bullets and the various components of shrapnel shells, pieces of rum jar seem the most common find. Stopped picking up pieces a long time ago unless it is a piece with remains of 'SRD' lettering or the maker marks etc...

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I know the feeling, pick up either bits with marks or the tops.

mick

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mick

I've got an SRD jar with a P impressed (the correct term for pottery) in the area near the SRD letters. The manufacturer is Pearson, so this could refer to the maker but I did wonder if there was another meaning.

Gunner Bailey

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Mick

I've got an SRD jar with a P impressed (the correct term for pottery) in the area near the SRD letters. The manufacturer is Pearson, so this could refer to the maker but I did wonder if there was another meaning.

Gunner Bailey

Thats one of the abbreviations that came up in discussion as in 'p' for potable.... my problem with that is that the stamps are so small as to be overlooked.

Mick

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Thats one of the abbreviations that came up in discussion as in 'p' for potable.... my problem with that is that the stamps are so small as to be overlooked.

Mick

Mick

On my SRD the P is about half an inch high as against the transfer printed SRD letters that are about 1.5 inches high.

Gunner Bailey

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Mick

I do have a jar with a handle, but until I such time as I can get off my backside and manage to buy a digicam, I have no means of showing you a picture.

However: the jar is by Pearson, and has a very clear B stamped on it. The handle consists of thin wire wrapped round the neck and twisted into a loop at either side, and into these loops are hooked the ends of a carrying handle made from wire 1/8th of an inch thick.

Wainfleet

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Mick

I do have a jar with a handle, but until I such time as I can get off my backside and manage to buy a digicam, I have no means of showing you a picture.

However: the jar is by Pearson, and has a very clear B stamped on it. The handle consists of thin wire wrapped round the neck and twisted into a loop at either side, and into these loops are hooked the ends of a carrying handle made from wire 1/8th of an inch thick.

Wainfleet

The handle i was thinking of is integral to the body. Mick

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Mick

I do have a jar with a handle, but until I such time as I can get off my backside and manage to buy a digicam, I have no means of showing you a picture.

However: the jar is by Pearson, and has a very clear B stamped on it. The handle consists of thin wire wrapped round the neck and twisted into a loop at either side, and into these loops are hooked the ends of a carrying handle made from wire 1/8th of an inch thick.

Wainfleet

I would think this wire handle is an addition by a post war user. In service they had a short life in the trenches. Normally the rum filled ones would be emptied in one or two days and returned to depot (if they survived), those containing other liquids, like bleach, disinfectant, ink would have been at the front longer then returned to depot.

A number can be found in wicker baskets but I'm never sure if this was done post war by French users or if some came from the UK like that.

Gunner Bailey

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I would think this wire handle is an addition by a post war user. In service they had a short life in the trenches. Normally the rum filled ones would be emptied in one or two days and returned to depot (if they survived), those containing other liquids, like bleach, disinfectant, ink would have been at the front longer then returned to depot.

A number can be found in wicker baskets but I'm never sure if this was done post war by French users or if some came from the UK like that.

Gunner Bailey

Wire handles are very much war-time correct, have seen one with it's stores tag still intact, attached to the handle!

As to the latter, go back and read my first post again! :rolleyes:

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Wire handles are very much war-time correct, have seen one with it's stores tag still intact, attached to the handle!

As to the latter, go back and read my first post again! :rolleyes:

Thanks Andrew.

Did they really all have wicker baskets?

Also what is the point of painting bands on the jars when the wicker covers I have seen cover 95% of the jar? Jars were continually shipped back to depot and reused, not always for the same filling.

Gunner Bailey

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Thanks Andrew.

Did they really all have wicker baskets?

Also what is the point of painting bands on the jars when the wicker covers I have seen cover 95% of the jar? Jars were continually shipped back to depot and reused, not always for the same filling.

Gunner Bailey

I'm not certain that ALL SRD jars had wicker baskets (many pictures showing their use in front line trenches are without the cover - I suspect it was more to protect the jars during transport, those in the frontline being reused to the point were the covers simply disintegrated). Not all SRD jars were even the two-tone glazed pottery ones we commonly associate with being a SRD jar! A number of glass examples exist (think of your standard brewing jar with SRD etched onto it and you'll have some idea) - the most likely theory is that these were used for storing battery acid. SRD stands for "Supply Reserve Depot", nothing more, nothing less, and so the jars could have held a variety of contents, rum, ink, acid, etc - hence the coloured banding denoting contents. You misread my post slightly - the coloured bands were painted on the wicker cover, not the jars themselves. Although the jars would be reused, the bands would presumably be noted, so that a jar which once held ink would not be reissued with rum! ;)

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A number of glass examples exist (think of your standard brewing jar with SRD etched onto it and you'll have some idea) - the most likely theory is that these were used for storing battery acid. ;)

Any pictures?

I do have a rum jar with traces of red paint....but that could have been applied post war.

Mick

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Any pictures?

I do have a rum jar with traces of red paint....but that could have been applied post war.

Mick

A certain large, well known USA militaria dealer had a couple for sale a few years ago, and I forgot to "archive" some of their pictures of the jars for my own reference purposes, but I have seen a few odd ones since...

Is that red paint applied to the jar itself, or a wicker cover? Would be interested in seeing pictures if it's the former. If there's any interest, I will dig out my wicker covered example with the red band intact and take some pictures. This may take a couple of weeks, when I have a living history event at Kelvedon in Essex to attend, and I remove my Vickers and get access to the jar! Off the top of my head, it still has it's stores tag printed in 1943 attached, so it is either a reused Great War example or a WW2 made example - I cant check the base for a date due to the wicker cover!

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A certain large, well known USA militaria dealer had a couple for sale a few years ago, and I forgot to "archive" some of their pictures of the jars for my own reference purposes, but I have seen a few odd ones since...

Is that red paint applied to the jar itself, or a wicker cover? Would be interested in seeing pictures if it's the former. If there's any interest, I will dig out my wicker covered example with the red band intact and take some pictures. This may take a couple of weeks, when I have a living history event at Kelvedon in Essex to attend, and I remove my Vickers and get access to the jar! Off the top of my head, it still has it's stores tag printed in 1943 attached, so it is either a reused Great War example or a WW2 made example - I cant check the base for a date due to the wicker cover!

Andrew

This is very interesting. I own 4 SRDs and it I had the space could buy dozens from French brocantes. I've probably looked 50 in the last 2 years and never found one in wicker or with a red or coloured paint. I can only assume most of the jars were not covered in wicker, but a small sercentage were, maybe for special liquids. The French in their post war usage may well have scraped off any paint or it just wore off in time. Pottery does not hold paint patrticularly well.

The glass SRD's (never seen one) may have been for battery acid as I think trench telephone and artillery battery radios ran off a car battery type cell. Acid is normally transported in 5 gallon glass containers called carboyes (not sure if that's spelt correctly), but these would be impossible to use in the trenches, so a smaller version would be more practical. I wonder what stopper the glass SRDs would have had? Cork would be no good for acid.

Gunner Bailey

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Must admit I'm a bit dubious about glass contaners marked SRD....but as we all know, never say never.

Red painted SRD. Castleford manufacturer.

Mick

pic2

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This is very interesting. I own 4 SRDs and it I had the space could buy dozens from French brocantes. I've probably looked 50 in the last 2 years and never found one in wicker or with a red or coloured paint. I can only assume most of the jars were not covered in wicker, but a small sercentage were, maybe for special liquids. The French in their post war usage may well have scraped off any paint or it just wore off in time. Pottery does not hold paint patrticularly well.

With respect ;) I believe that is flawed logic - even my unused wicker covered example with the stores tag intact (the seller actually had two like this, so it wasn't an isolated example) is VERY fragile with age, and that's probably only 60 years old, let alone 90 years plus. I feel the fact that most seen today are without covers is due to the fact that when they were made, the covers were made out of a fairly cheap and thus more disposable material, designed primarily to protect the relatively expensive jar - originally, they would have been relatively easy to replace if necessary, but in the years after the war, if the covers disintegrated through further use in civilian hands, why bother to go to the time/trouble/expense of getting it replaced? Anyhow, will definately post pictures in a few weeks time - just had a quick look in my wardrobe, but it's so full of stuff at the moment, I really will have to wait to the weekend after next to get practical access to it.

Must admit I'm a bit dubious about glass contaners marked SRD....but as we all know, never say never.

Red painted SRD. Castleford manufacturer.

Mick

Many thanks for posting that picture, never seen one like that before! Very interesting.

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With respect ;) I believe that is flawed logic - even my unused wicker covered example with the stores tag intact (the seller actually had two like this, so it wasn't an isolated example) is VERY fragile with age, and that's probably only 60 years old, let alone 90 years plus. I feel the fact that most seen today are without covers is due to the fact that when they were made, the covers were made out of a fairly cheap and thus more disposable material, designed primarily to protect the relatively expensive jar - originally, they would have been relatively easy to replace if necessary, but in the years after the war, if the covers disintegrated through further use in civilian hands, why bother to go to the time/trouble/expense of getting it replaced? Anyhow, will definately post pictures in a few weeks time - just had a quick look in my wardrobe, but it's so full of stuff at the moment, I really will have to wait to the weekend after next to get practical access to it.

Andrew

I appreciate your views on this. But what strikes me is that in all the 1000's of pictures of the trenches and elsewhere on the front you seemingly never see an SRD jar anywhere. If they were all wicker covered at the time, any photo from that period containing an SRD would show it wicker covered. I've not seen one but would be happy to see one posted here, and am happy to be proved wrong.

There is another possibility and I'm making a new theory here. The area of the Somme and the southern part of the Pas de Calais are well known for their wicker work. There is a whole group of wicker workshops south of Hesdin, on the rivers Canche and Authie. Is it possible the wicker was added post war by French civilians? Wicker is an organic substance with natural dyes in the wood. If SRDs were buried for any great length of time surrounded by wicker the unglazed part of the jars (the base) would pick up a stain from the wicker. I've never seen such a stain on any of the 50 or so jars I've examined. OK that's a long shot but I would have expected to see more evidence of painted or wicker covered SRD's in photos from the period.

Also how long would it take to weave a wicker cover for a SRD. Probably 5 times longer than it would take to make the jar. I think it would be more likely that say 4 SRD's boxed in straw and delivered to the lines for distribution. The box and any surviving jars could then be sent for reused. Individual jars, unboxed would be a really inefficient way to handle so many items, especially as the wicker covered jars I have seen have lacked handles. You are wrong to assume that SRDs were 'relatively expensive'. Pottery in that era was actually very cheap, especially utility wear such as an SRD. These were throw away items that were recycled where possible.

As I said, paint does not stay well on pottery. It would wear off quickly from glazed areas but would adhere better to the unglazed base. There is no reason to believe paint was not added in post war civilian usage.

There seems to be a total lack of evidence to this logistics wise, with little evidence either way.

Gunner Bailey

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Gunner Bailey,

Jars did indeed come wickered.

Go the following post to see some info:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...post&p=8811

However, If we are talking just about the use of these jars for Rum, or Lime juice, then the ASC instructions state that.

Rum in 2 1 Gal Jars (unwickered i.e no wicker cover) is shipped in cases marked "M. 10"

Lime juice was also shipped the same way-unwickered with "Lime Juice" marked on the case.

Lime juice also was stored 4 lb bottles 10 to a case.

Rum was only shipped in 1 gal jars.

Joe Sweeney

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