31 - The German Mess Kit
The mess kit consisted of two halves, the bottom or
the "pot" & the handled lid or the
"pan". These were initially made of
aluminum, but as the war progressed steel was utilized
more & more in their manufacture. The Kochgeschirr
is approximately 14cm tall & can hold about 1.7 liters.
The container has a slight
kidney shape look to it from the top. The bottom or "pot" has a
rolled rim & a wire bail attached to the sides
with a small bend in the center for hanging.
The lid has a rim that is rolled outwards
in the early models. Later on they began
manufacturing lids with just a raw stamped edge. The
handle for both examples is hinged &
riveted. At the upper part near the rivets there
is a slit & toward the bottom of the handle there
is a loop. By passing a leather strap through
the slit, loop, & around the body of the
container, the lid would then be firmly secured to the
kochgeschirr when the soldier finally buckles it to
models were painted a dark matte grey also known as
Feldgrau (see below). This color was common for
kits from around 1935 to 1941. At the end of
April 1941, order HM 41, No.435 was issued. This
stated that the color was to be changed to an olive-drab color known
as Graugrün (see below). One should note that the paint
would normally wear off rather easily with normal wear
Essentially there were four variations of the
Kochgeschirr 31. The following is a brief description
1. Pre- early war production
This version was made entirely of aluminum. The lid had a rolled edged
& the handle was made of aluminum as well. Large
vertical aluminum lugs are used for the attachments of a steel
bale. There is also notches present on the inside
of the kit's bottom denoting measurements.
2. War time production
These were made with a steel
handle for the kit's lid. The rest is unchanged.
3. Mid to late war production
These mess kits
developed a simplified lug for attaching the bale.
This was a small piece of folded steel riveted to
the kit's side. The rim on the lid was often stamped
and not rolled like the earlier models & enameled
steel began to replace the aluminum bodies. This version
also started phasing out the measurement notches
on the kit's bottom.
4. Late war production
The "last ditch" kits were made in late '44 and
early '45. These were made of a thinner aluminum
or steel & lacked the handle for the kit's top. The rim on the lid was
stamped & left raw as in the previous model.
There are a variety of post war mess kits that are
similar to the wartime examples above, but be careful!
While they may
resemble a period kochgeschirr, they may have details
incorrect or missing. The following is a crash
course in how to determine if the mess kit is original
or a post war. While this just offers the most
basic of overviews on this topic, you will at least
have the knowledge to be able to sort out the general
types that should be avoided.
East German Mess kit
This post war model is the type most commonly
found on the market today. While it is the
correct size, you will note that both the top &
bottom strap loops on the lid's handle are
missing. This makes the lid incorrect for WWII
use. The bail lugs are acceptable in
West German Mess kit
This post war model
is taller than that of wartime originals. You
can easily identify the main fault in this model
by looking for the large space between the top
of the lid & the top of the handle loop.
Wartime mess kits would have the top strap loop
flush with the top of the lid. This model is approximately
1/4 inch taller than the originals. The bail
lugs are of a post war pattern & thus
unacceptable for use.
West German Police Mess kit
This post war model
is the closest in comparison to wartime
examples. While the handle configuration &
size match, the only thing that makes it
incorrect is the bail lugs. As you can see, they
are different than the wartime models shown
above. Examples like these, but of Russian
manufacture are also found from time to time.
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