WWII Army Sun Protective Ointment is a reproduction of an original box in our collection.
The box is museum quality and ideal for historical displays, reenacting, and theatrical productions. The box is not just historically decorative, though.
Sunscreen, known as “Red Vet Pet” because it was a reddish petroleum ointment, was introduced in the military in 1944. It’s inventor, Benjamin Green, an airman and pharmacist, went on to develop Coppertone. Prior to that, commercial sunscreens had been on the market since 1928, although their effectiveness was arguable.
During WWII, troops frequently shed their uniforms in hot weather, leaving themselves vulnerable to sunburn as well as malaria. Despite the rumor that sunburn could get a soldier court marshaled for the destruction of military property, there’s no record of anyone ever being charged. There are, however, plenty of photos of soldiers, sailors, and marines working shirtless or even in the buff on islands across the Pacific.