As always, the first port of call for a question regarding vintage military items should obviously be everyone's favourite single model car forum.
We (no comment!) have just bought the pictured item (advertised as a bomb case) to use as a tree planter for our hopefully coming soon new house. Aside from being charged with drilling holes in the bottom for drainage I have little interest in the tree growing aspects but am curious to know what it actually is (and originally looked like). It looks to made of aluminium apart the handles which are steel and could hold 4 shells of approximately (I haven't measured it) 110mm diameter.
Underneath some paint can be seen some yellow lettering on one side, "cartridges for weapons" and the other side has some etching "F & L 1951, N17 MK13P"
One thing that is confusing me why I can't find reference to the manufacturer, assuming that's what F & L is.
I've found a couple of older looking ones with the same F & L markings here and here which is also leading me to thinking that the N17 relates to some form of 17lb shell. Initial Googling of N17 Mk1 led to a Spitfire designation but that obviously doesn't match up to the 1951. I'm only assuming it is a date but the the older WWII items that I've found seem to be consistent with that.
Someone in our household has a pretty clear vision with regards to the aesthetics of our hopefully soon to be new back yard. It isn't me, I just drill and dig where I'm told to. I've long since stopped wasting energy on subjects I'm not really bothered about. Hence putting more effort into finding out what it specifically is than anything else.
I'm more thinking about finding the original colour and matching that including the text in yellow but at the end of the day, see above!
Yes indeed, old Military ordnance, cases etc can be successfully repurposed into household and garden items.
I remember as a child my Grandparents had WW11 bomb tails being used as large pot plants. The circular tail made a good base and the "cone" above it held the plant. These came from Archerfield, the then major airport (and wartime RAAF base) here in Brisbane where my Uncle was an engineer with QANTAS. Many people today find it hard to believe that Qantas had its Brisbane operation based at Archerfield, now used by light aircraft.
I can still remember seeing Lincolns at Archerfield in the 1950s as it was still being used by the RAAF.