M31 Feldflasche

The m31 canteen followed the soldier troughout the war. Several versions and constructions eksists so this is just a introduction to the m31 canteen. Before the war the M31 canteen was also produced for the zivilian marked until it was all needed for the war effort. The civilians are often unmarked and features different details from the war production. The canteen was used in ww1 in different models as well. These were named 1897, 1907 and 1915 model.

Picture to the left shows a standard m31 canteen attached to the breadbag.

Picture to the right shows different models. Top right is a canteen for the civilian marked,  Top left is the standard issue m31 canteen. Bottom right is a early war canteen with black bakelite cup. Bottom left is a prewar named canteen in poor shape. The latter is a reference as it is 100% genuine and original. It was found in a local german artillery festung. Stored poorly it has deteriorated, but nevertheless it is a reference for comparison.

The feldflasche as carried attached to right D-ring of the breadbag as shown on the left soldier in this famous photo from Stalingrad (Photo: Signal Magazine). The troops in afrikakorps were issued two canteens for obvious reasons. The term labeflasche refers to larger canteens of 1, 1.5 and 2l volum. Often issued to medic personnell and the mountain troops. The medic issued had a more complex carried harness with a crossstrap horisontal on the bottle and a carriying strap. Contrary to the standard m31 canteen, the labeflasche were produced mostly of aluminium during the war.

The feldflasche consisted of a container made of aluminium(later steel), steel or bakelite cup, screw cap, leather harness and a cover made of felt.

Early cups are made of blackpainted aluminium, after 1941 they were ordered to be produced in olive green. Bakelite cups appear during the early stages of the war (a bakelite 41 marked cup further down). As aluminium was a high priority resource for the aviation industri, cups start to appear made of painted steel. The metal cups are not always marked. The screwcaps are made of both aluminium and bakelite, the latter more encountered later. The srewcap are sometimes marked the same as the bottle.

The felt was there both to keep warmth and cold out as an insulator. The felt cover is most common, but canvas ones are also seen. The leather harness is made out of two different sections and attaches to the top of the screwcap and on a stud at the bottom. Pieces of leather was often mad out of cutoff from the K98 pouch production.  Harness of webbing is also seen.

Above left showing a cup in olive green marked Eff.41indicating production by ewald eigenbrod aluminium und metalwarenfabrik. Earlier version painted black below. Middle showing the canteen with bakelite screwcap marked G.N.L 40 indicating production by Grude Nølle Bestecke Lüdenscheid, a manufacture not to often encountered. Picture right showing unredable manufacturer mark in ink.some of these ar put together pieces, some are by theory put together with parts from subcontractors. Oscar Schindler also made feldflasche marked 'def' for deutsche emaliewarenfabrik

Above a prime example of an early prewar produced canteen. The cup is laquered black and the quality of fabrics, leather an meta are higher than the previous presented. This canteen is marked "Esb 38" indicating production by Eduard sommerfeld in Berlin 1938. The canteen are a matching number one with markings on leather, cup, bottle and feldcover. The company was established in 1875 producing metalwaren of aluminium. They mad canteens in the weimar area and exported to turkey. Their main marked was the camping marked wit civilian makrked canteens and equipment. Postwar they produced canteens for the soviet occupiers. They filed for bankrupcy in the sixties due to the plastic coming to marked.

Interestingly the hook is made by "Ritter alumium". This is seen on many ESB38 marked canteen so probably a subcontractor to ESB. Right shows the pre/early war painted black cup. Left the ESB marking inside the Feltcover. Canteen in perfect condition with minor dried up leather strap.

Comercial ad from Eduard somerfeld for their camping equipment. The war boosted their revenue.Of particular interest is the canteen on the left. "virgo rein aluminiun" was their trademark for aluminium hardware.

A household find bottle marked  "mn 41" with bakelite cup. The leather when found are often very fragile. This also have damages from moths.  The crosstrap in the middle securing the strap is believed to be made of pebbled leather cutoff from k98 pouch production. The picture at right showing the alumium screwcap on a well documentet flask marked FwBN37.  It was taken as a souvenir from a coastal defence facility established in 1940.

Picture above showing the bakelite cup. The one of the left is 1941 dated and producers marked GFC. The one on the right has no visible markings. It might be ww2 or it might be postwar. The production did not stop when the third reich saw its end. These cups are reproduced in a large scale. Mostly they are made out of plastic wich differs easyli from bakelite. Bakelite has a different feel, weight and sound when you tap it. Cups made out of green, orange or white resin are also known to exist and fetching high prices, and therefore a collector should be vigilant. The value makes it worth to reproduce. 

A feldflasche probably produced for the civilian marked pre war. It has the same design but differs in details. No manufacturer codes. The felt cover is the same material and the buttons for the cover are the same design. In 1940 the germans already planned to fight on two fronts withe the operation Weserubung and the coming offencive into france. Demand for field gear was high so one cannot exclude that civilian surplus was used by the army. This canteen is believed to have been produced by Carl Feldhaus aluminium und metallwerke in ludenscheid. This is indicated by the brown quality leather used and prewar labeflasche aluminium cup produced by this maker of same design as the one here. (they had 3-letter code CFL)  Also a householdt found item

One Feldflasche that differs from the rest is the Ritters Kokosnuss. It is a feldflasche like the other version, the difference is in the insulator. Instead of felt or Canvas it has compressed wooden fibers in resin (looks like plywood).  It was patented by Heinrich Ritter from Esslingen. It has been refferred to as "tropical" but the version here is made in 1943 and the Afrikacampaign was over at that time. There is also a specimen of this type displayed at the stalingrad war museum in Volgograd.

This specimen has a steel cup with red paint marked HRE43. The flasche is matching and marked Hre43 and "Drgm"- The latter is a german patent system that lasted long after the war. One thing to be aware of, so did the production. These Ritter canteens and other models were produced after the war for their "new masters". Bundesgrenzschutz used the ritter up until mid sixties according to collectors of Bgr gear. They are marked differently but often consists of parts that are leftover from war production and therefore have ww2 markings.

Another canteen by Ritter with a different cup. It is marked HRE42. The cup is marked HRE39. It might be a replacement postwar or factory using spares. We will never know.

Common producers/markins to be found:

CFL        Carl Feldhaus aluminium und Metallwerke, Ludenscheid

DEF        Deutsche emailwarenfabrik (Oskar Schindler)

HRE        Heinrich Ritter alumnium

ESB        Eduard somerfeld Berlin

MN         Metallindustire gmbh, neukirchen saar

FWBN   Brockelman alumiumwerk GMBH KG, Ruhr

WWE     W. Wagner, Esslingen

SMM       Sud deusche metallwarenfabrik, Mussbach

EEF         Ewald eigenbrod aluminium und metallwarenfabrik, Freiling

EMK        Aluminiumwerke Gøttingen

KCL         Klinter & co, Ludenscheid

JSD         J. Schmalzeder Erben, Dresden

Also seen are modified, restored and repaired feldflasche having original parts mixed with repro productions to make them complete. canteens are also made in a wide variety for the re-enactor marked. The Feldflasche in very poor condition on this page is also the most valuable. Not in terms of money, but in terms of beeing able to compare other to a confirmed original from a known source. "found in a barn in Hesslingen" or "householdfind in Netherlands" written by a dealer or seller is only a story. Objects inherited from relatives are not a story, it is a stated fact.