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