617 Squadron food thermos

Discussion in 'WW2 Militaria' started by aramsay, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. aramsay

    aramsay Junior Member

    This is a US-made AerVoid insulated food cannister, which is marked "Aircrew T 617" & "RAF Scampton".

    It's : dia. 25cm & 45cm high.

    Would such a thing have been taken on a sortie, or left on base somewhere ?
  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I am not aware that these food canisters were in use in the Second World War...never heard of the practice apart from coffee thermos flasks issued to aircrew .

    I would think that the food container was associated with No 617 Squadron's service as part of the Blue Steel stand off nuclear offensive weapon during the 1960s.During this period, from February 1963, the RAF, through its Bomber Command arm until 1968 and through its successor,Strike Command had the responsibility for delivering the British nuclear deterrent until this responsibility was transferred to the RN Polaris submarine fleet from July 1969.

    While the Blue Steel V Bomber force had the responsibility for the British nuclear deterrent,its aircrew had to respond according to the international situation. A "quick reaction alert"procedure was put in place, ranging from a 30 minutes warning to cockpit readiness where crew would man their aircraft during an international emergency..In all cases aircraft would be required to get airborne within 2 minutes from the order to go.

    So to ensure that crews were operationally ready, close to their aircraft,compounds were erected close to dispersals for crew manning.Crews would require to be fed and watered and for this purpose,hot food would be provided from the Mess in insulated containers for the crews on readiness.

    Vulcans tended to be utilised more for this function..Valiants fell by the wayside with potential spar failures and the Victors were given the tanker role and overseas detachments...the Vulcan force being based in the UK as the nuclear deterrent.

    As an added point of intelligence,wartime catering equipment would not identify a squadron and its base.

  3. aramsay

    aramsay Junior Member

  4. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    A similar item recently appeared on e bay it contained 4 or 5 round mess tins with lids that contained meals; The lid of the flask was a slightly different design, so this may well be the US equivalent that someone has stencilled up to represent 617 ??? and it is missing the inner fittings ??????? although some carried the food in bulk to be served at the point of eating; During WW2 Squadron equipment was normally marked with a coloured band or strip and a Sqn serial number. The Station Commander would allocate each of his Sqns a colour so equipment was not taken on a sortie bearing useful ID markings. Somewhere it should also be marked with the Stores reference number - known as the section and ref number . Searching the internet such containers were fairly common WW2 aircrew equipment for aircraft that didn't have galleys with full facilities.
    I was at Scampton home of 617 in the hey day of the Vulcan Blue Steel era but I never saw a flask like this in use by the QRA crews when at cockpit readiness. Although exercised frequently crews did not stay at cockpit readiness for periods of more than 30 minutes, they were normally at 15 minutes readiness living in special accomodation in the Operations block parked outside was a Bedford Crewcoach for each crew, At scampton the QRA crews took their meals in a partitioned section of the airmans mess- in fact downstairs from the room used for the Dambusters pre operation briefing.
    . Should they be called to a higher readiness whilst dining the coaches equipped intially with electric bells and later big rolling sirens, would transit the one way system against the normal flow to make the dash to the QRA dispersal; Station Standing Orders gave the QRA coaches absolute priority on the camp roads. Returning to ID markings viz intelligence- in the cold war era everything carried straight forward markings such as those on this flask; For the aircrew such a trip was expected to be one way and for those of us left behind on the ground our minutes would have no doubt been numbered once the balloon went up ! We also exercised moving the V force to 50 or so dispersed sites aroiund the UK and middle east but that is another story
    dbf likes this.
  5. aramsay

    aramsay Junior Member

    There ye go.... Ask a question about a Thermos flask, and I end up learning about an event I didn't know about at all ! Great stuff ! :)

    As for the flask....

    The dark-green finish & stencilled white lettering look contemporaneous to each other, as there are small micro-blisters/orange-peely effects on the paint overall that is under both green & white to same effect.

    The only other markings are on the maker's plate..."Food Carrier No.400" & "Serial No.9779". Made by the Vacuum Can Co., Chicago.

    And, on the bottom is hand-painted; " Scampton / Exhbit # / 12 "


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  6. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Strange to see the exhibit marking on the bottom the hatch number symbol if it was an exhibit in the UK I would have expected to see Scampton exhibit No 12 ?? This reminds me of markings USA style ??
  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Perhaps the hash is an indication of the debut of PCs and not from the era of original use...but "Exhibit" where

    I would think that the Scampton Heritage Centre might have information as regards its authenticity and possible origin.

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