Images of various Artifacts of the Month's

June 2020

Artifact of the Month

Jerry Can

At the beginning of World War II, the U.S. Army used a British designed fuel can which was not very affectionately called the “flimsy”. This fuel can was a four Imperial-gallon tin plate container that had to be packed into wooden crates to protect it. The “flimsy” was loathed by British soldiers who preferred to cut it down, fill it with sand and stones , a dose of gasoline and light it, using it as a kettle to help make tea. Allied soldiers knew the only fuel container worth having was one made by the Germans.

Hitler knew his weakest link was fuel supply, and ordered the design of a fuel container that would minimize gasoline losses under combat conditions. The jerry can, as it came to be called, was flat-sided and rectangular, with two halves welded together. It had three handles, enabling one man to carry two cans and pass one to another man in a bucket-brigade fashion. The capacity was 5 U.S. gallons and had a filled weight of 45 pounds.

Initially the only Allied supply of these cans came from those captured in battle. Ultimately, both the U.S. and Britain began manufacturing gas cans following the German design. Millions were ready by D-Day, and by V-E Day almost 21,000,000 Allied jerry cans were scattered all over Europe.