Heritage100

Leather “Boot” Water Bottle

Leather “Boot” Water Bottle

Whenever water was found a cry of “fill your boots” would be heard...

In 1882 the British Army were fighting the Egyptian Army at a place called Tel El Kebir close to Cairo. 

In total, 15,000 Egyptians had set up defences to prevent the British Army numbering 18.500 reaching Cairo. Under cover of darkness the British troops stormed the Egyptian positions, sparking a huge rout.  It was on the battlefield of Tel El Kebir that this water bottle was found.

The water bottle was issued to British soldiers during the 1880s and quickly became known as a “boot” due to its unique shape and leather design.    

Out in Egypt the heat could be unbearable for the soldiers, wearing heavy and itchy uniforms. This led to many cases of sunstroke and dehydration. In these conditions water was all important to the soldiers. Whenever water was found a cry of “fill your boots” would be heard and all would rush to fill their water bottles.

It is from this water bottle that we get the phrase “fill your boots!”  which is used today, meaning to get as much of something as possible, just as those soldiers filling up their boots with water did one hundred and thirty years ago.  

Quick Facts

  • Found at the battlefield of Tel El Kebir, Egypt
  • Date found on battlefield 13 September 1882
  • Made of Leather and wood
  • Dimensions Height 330mm, Wiidth 140mm
  • Accession Number CHCMP:220

Facts

  • The battle of Tel El Kebir was the first real battle involving members of the Royal Military Police, and so today the water bottle is part of the Royal Military Police collection. During the battle the Royal Military Police, known at the time as the Military Mounted Police and Military Foot Police, played a vital role in preventing the British troops from looting the Egyptian Baggage Train and ensuring they continued to pursue the retreating Egyptian troops.

Did you know?

The Egyptian Campaign of 1882 was the last time British soldiers would wear their infamous red coats into battle.

Gallery

Leather “Boot” Water Bottle

Fact Sheets

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