Coca-Cola and the Military

Coca-Cola has been with our military through the years, aboard ships with our Navy and found on bases across the globe. I thought for Memorial Day I would talk about Coca-Cola and World War II.

December 1941- Robert W. Woodruff announced The Coca-Cola Company’s wartime policy: “We will see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.”

 In 1943, General Dwight D. Eisenhower sent a telegram requesting 10 Mobile Bottling Plants be sent to the European war front. The Cablegram also requested that three million bottles and complete equipment necessary for producing the same quantity twice monthly be sent. Before 1944, small portable bottling units, capable of being hauled behind jeeps, were used. By 1944, more permanent installations showed up in the Pacific and European War Theaters.

   Bottle production began in 1943. The bottles were to be made using clear glass and no City/State markings on the bottom.

There are two theories about why clear glass was used instead of the normal Coke Green in manufacturing these bottles. One was that it made the bottles easily identifiable as military bottles.  The other is that copper is needed to create the Coke Green glass and, due to a shortage of copper, it was necessary to manufacture them with clear glass. This latter theory may not be correct since all U.S. Coca-Cola bottles manufactured during the War years were in the standard Coke green glass.

  The first bottle manufactured in 1943 was simply the PAT’D D-105529 bottle in clear glass with no City/State markings. A new bottle mold could not be made quickly to allow a different style bottle for Military use only. By 1944, the new style bottle began production with the word ‘TRADEMARK’ below the Coca-Cola script. This bottle was produced until 1946.

Over 5,000,000,000 bottles were served to our troops during WWII.

 I hope you have a great Holiday weekend and take time to remember those that served our Country and gave the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day is the Anniversary of my discharge from the Navy. I will spend the day with family but will remember my friends that did not make it home.

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20 Responses to “Coca-Cola and the Military”

  1. Diana Streevey Says:

    You are the only other person I have come across who knows any details about Coca Cola’s WWII contribution. Thanks for blogging!

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Diana
      Thank you for stopping by and the nice comments! Glad you enjoy my blog.
      Doug

  2. Kelly Says:

    Hey Doug,
    Thanks for this information. I recently got back from a trip to Vanuatu. I was told about a bay where American war ships used to shelter in WW2. The bay is scattered with relics from the war times including a number of coke bottles that are only abut 3m of water (so easy to duck dive to collect). I bought three bottles home with me after lots of scrubbing (they are also for sale in the markets there for around $5 already clean).
    Two are clear with no base markings, and are marked Trade-Mark Registered Min. Contents 6- Fl.Ozs (Bottle Pat.D-15529). The other is green with Oakland – Calif on the base. I assume the green one was bought over from Oakland and the clear ones were made closer to the action?
    Pretty interesting place to snorkel for bottle collectors!
    Kelly

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Kelly,
      Sounds very interesting! On the Oakland bottle, it may have been brought over and made its way into the supply of WWII bottles that were used.
      Wish I could go out and snorkel there! Those bottles make an interesting addition to any collection.
      Doug

  3. ed c Says:

    Doug

    I recently found a clear glass (1944) marked Trade-Mark Registered Min. Contents 6- Fl.Ozs (Bottle Pat.D-15529 scuba diving in Ketchikan, Alaska. We find quite a few coke bottles with City names from all over the US, and sometimes find ‘christmas cokes’ when diving here….but have only found one of the ‘clear’ cokes so far.

    Ed

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Ed,
      You have a World War II bottle. The clear bottles were used mainly overseas at American bases. They did not have a City/State marking and were done in clear glass. They were made from 1944 to 1946. Maybe someone brought it back with them onboard a ship and pitched it once in port. This version usually sells for around $30 to $40. I’ve been to Ketchikan before and loved the area. Wish I was brave enough to dive. I know you can find some great items that way.
      Thanks,
      Doug

  4. Ed c Says:

    Douge

    SEAlaska had a great deal of US military activity during WWII, so not surprising to find a military coke…actually surprised we haven’t found more than one. The winter diving is excellent here and we continue to find a wide variety of collectible bottles ranging as far back as the mid/late 1800’s. Thanks. Ed

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Ed,
      It is odd that you only found one of the WWII Coca-Cola bottles. Keep looking and good luck finding more bottles with your dives.Can’t imagine going ‘winter diving’ in Alaska! BRRRRR!
      Doug

  5. Ed c Says:

    http://www.peachridgeglass.com/2011/10/scuba-diving-for-bottles-in-alaska

    Doug. Here’s a URL to a short blurb about bottle diving in this area. Ed

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Thanks Ed for the link. Very interesting! Can’t imagine diving in Alaska. Must be cold in the water year round!
      Doug

  6. Jaanus Says:

    Hi!

    I wonder did the WWII era green bottle and clear bottel hade same cap?

    Br,
    Jaanus

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Jaanus
      Good question! I am not certain about the caps. I am sure they were very similar. I would think the ones used on the clear bottles, for the troops, had no City or bottler name on them. But I don’t know for certain.
      Doug

  7. Jon Says:

    Living here in the Marshall Islands on Kwajalein Atoll we find MANY old Coca-Cola bottles, mostly dated 1944, 1945, and 1946. The really are all over the place, some still quite pristine after all these years. Coke bottle hunter’s dream here. just my two-cents

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Jon
      WOW-wish I could go through all of those bottles! Must be a great place to live! Just my two cents worth….
      Doug

  8. Andy Says:

    Doug,

    I live in Guam and have found quite a few vintage coke bottles. They are of various types but I belevie all are from the 40s or 50s. Just not sure which. One thing they almost all have in common is that they don’t have city/state on the bottom and no 6- Fl.Ozs or Bottle Pat.D-15529 and only say “Trademark” below the raised coca cola lettering. I have clear, green, and some appear aqua blueish (I’ve read other places these are in place of the green due to copper shotages during the war). The all have some marks on the sides – small numbers with a symbol in between. One unique one is green and has the same characteristics as stated above but the Trademark word is in Spanish. Any insight you have is appreciated.

    Andy

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Andy
      Glad to hear from you. It sounds like you found a stash of ‘Military’ issue bottles. THe ones with just TRADE-MARK under the Coca-Cola logo were used by the U.S. Military from WWII into the 1950’s in some areas. The ‘Military’ issue bottles did not have City/State markings on them.
      It is hard to say where the Spanish bottle came from or how it got to Guam. Look closely at the small numbers, those will say what year the bottles were made. Post the numbers here and the order they appear on the bottles and I’ll help with getting a year for the bottles. Hope this helps.
      Doug

      • Andy Says:

        Thanks Doug. The numbers on the side of the Spanish one are 2 a symbol and then a 43.

        As for the others, are either of the numbers on the bottles a date? Is there any way to determine bottles from during the war vs before or more likely after? Do the colors mean anything definitive?

      • cocacolabottleman Says:

        Andy
        The Spanish bottle is from 1943. The number on the right of the bottle makers mark is the year the bottle was made for bottles made during and around WWII. The blue bottle may be older than the others OR could have been exposed to the sun, etc. and over time has changed the color of the glass. The majority of the TRADEMARK bottles were in clear glass.
        Hope this helps.
        Doug

  9. drema scott Says:

    my late husband was a ww11 vet serving in navy, then marines. for guams 50 yr. celebration he and some buddies went back to the area and he brought back to me a 1946 green coke bottle d-105529 with oakland calif. on the bottom. i want to give it to my nephew and would love any info. you can give about it. thanks, much..drema

    • cocacolabottleman Says:

      Drema
      I come from a long line of Navy veterans. My grandfather was also in Guam during WWII. There are a lot of Coca-Cola bottles that ended up in Guam. It became a major staging area during and after the war. Robert Woodruff of The Coca-Cola Company wanted to ensure that every soldier/sailor be able to have a Coca-Cola, no matter where they were at or the cost to the company. Many small temporary bottling plants sprang up across the Pacific. The bottle you have from Guam was used I am sure by the forces left there to get everyone home, equipment home, etc. A great bottle with a great story behind it.
      Thanks
      Doug

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