- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Alexander Dall
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- Contributed on:
- 14 January 2004
The original watercans issued to the Eighth Army were crude and inefficient. Holding about two gallons, they were squarish in shape with rounded corners, and had a screwed plug which, when removed, allowed the precious contents to be slobbered wastefully. The diagonal handle on top made stable stacking impossible, whie the rusting interior quickly converted the contents into an orange-coloured fluid swimming with little fragments of iron oxide. To counter the presence of these solids, a piece of wax was introduced, so that the unwanted particles would adhere to it. They did - but only to a limited degree.
The result was that the water was completely undrinkable on that basis alone. But worse was to follow. Aware of the unreliable provenance of some sources, the medics provided chlorine tablets, and then, equally aware of the resulting degradation of flavour, supplied other tablets to counter it. The final compound of water, rust, chlorine and tablet X created a liquid which Macbeth's witches would have regarded with professional envy, but which converted tea into a bizarre chemical concoction.
The problem was solved by blatantly copying the opposition's container. The German version held twice the quantity, could be firmly stacked, poured properly and had an internal coating which preserved whatever properties the original possessed. It was openly and honestly christened the JERRICAN, and continues to be manufactured today.
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