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I received this ammo box with a WW1 grouping that belonged to a Major during the war. I have not seen this type of box before. When I search for WW1 ammo boxes I only find examples of wooden ones. Does anybody have any information about this type of box?

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I have a chest like yours. Here is what I found on a search. Maybe it will help.

Cal. .50 M17 Ammo Chest

The M17 Ammunition Chest was introduced in the 1930s for .50 caliber machine gun ammunition. The full nomenclature was Chest, Ammunition Cal. .50 M17 described by drawing number D39091. The M17 was not designed for mounting on the machine gun. Its role was to carry 100 round belts to a position where they would be fed to the gun while the box sat on the ground.

The chest was painted flat olive drab, identified by a black stencil on the front panel under the latch. No other markings were provided. Approximate size is 7 7/8 inches high x 12 inches deep x 6 inches wide.

Sheet metal material

Riveted channel on four vertical edges and two sides of the bottom to form the box

Side-opening lid, not removable, attached to box by riveted hinge, almost full width

Web strap handle on top, attached by metal loops riveted to lid

Lever thumb latch holds top closed at center point. The lower latch assembly is held to the front panel of the box by four rivets while the upper latch hook is attached to the lid with two rivets.

Rolled steel lip-stop runs across the front panel, between the latch sections, to position the lid when closed

No gasket on lid, therefore not sealed from dust or water


Tanker1 AKA Jim

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Great info Jim. Thanks. I will be posting more from this group as time allows. Everything is really early dated.


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I believe this style was carried on vehicles during WWII.


"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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After the war I believe these were common surplus items, popular as tool boxes. I have one I obtained as a small boy; at the time I thought 'chest' was an adjective, like 'ball ammunition' or 'tracer ammunition,' and assumed the box was used to carry 'chest ammunition.'

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