The Joy of Field Rations: The French P-38 Can Opener

The French P-38 Can Opener.

Can opener, scraper, screwdriver, chisel, pick, the tool of a hundred thousand uses, “The Greatest Army Invention”, “invented in just 30 days in the summer of 1942 by Maj. Thomas Dennehy at the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago”*, was actually invented 30 years earlier by a Frenchman.

via The Joy of Field Rations: The French P-38 Can Opener.

My entire world has been upended. That magnificent piece of American technology is French?

The blog I borrowed this from is interesting in its own right, with posts about the hardware, and the recipes related to field feeding of troops. The 1944 Army biscuit recipe looks pretty promising.

8 thoughts on “The Joy of Field Rations: The French P-38 Can Opener”

  1. The primary difference between the French and American models is that the French one only works counter-clockwise i.e. always to the Left.

  2. I carried one on my dog tag chain on the ship, which I had gotten from a case of Cs in ’67 when my father brought home 5 cases. I broke it opening a soda can on the Sylvania. I got a couple more when I was in the TNARNG before the Cs went away, but lost them. I bought 4 of them for a quarter apiece at Uncle Bob’s in Parkersburg, WV and gave one to a couple former Marines and another guy who served in the Old Guard. I still have mine after about 13 years, the longest any one of them has lasted for me. One of the best tools around.

    I have a Victornox Swiss Army which I normally use to open cans these days, even at home. I get more leverage with it than a P-38.

  3. My father taught me to put some tape on it to keep it from biting when reaching into one’s pocket.


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