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WW1 Grenades both British and Enemy.

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Gunner Bailey

Michael

How to make WW1 Pink paint. The official mix for the Mills No 5.

Oxide of zinc - 1 oz

Vermillion - 1/2 oz.

Terebene 1 1/2 oz

Turpentine Spirits - 1/2 oz.

Feel free to experiment!

John

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depaor01

Can you also read any of the letters on the front of the body - beneath the filler hole? If so let me know as some makers made Mills 36 in both wars, some only in WW2.

John

Ah. I'll have to revisit the grenade (it's a few miles away) as I hadn't spotted the numbers and the the plug is out of focus in my photo.

I'll investigate and revert!

Thanks again,

Dave

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calibre792x57.y

Not been following this - but Michael H is quite correct. In the past I have had two No.5 grenades which were painted with a broad white band around their centre like the one posted by him. As with his there was no trace of any other paint having been applied. Further I am sure that the pink band does not usually fade so evenly to white. A friend found a dump of Stokes bombs with their all way fuzes in Aveluy wood some years back. Some retained their 'dirty white' (ochre) finish in parts and the red filled band and the pink band were clearly visible. The same applies to a 2-inch trench mortar bomb which retained its pink and red bands after being in a dug-out for eighty years. Michael has a bomb intended for practice. It does not do to be too pedantic about colour schemes which do not follow the book description. That, I am sure of because I spent some years working in an ammunition dump on the inspection and destruction of explosive stores and the markings we applied were extemporised using hand made stamps to speed the process and that was in peace-time. SW

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calibre792x57.y

G.B If the pink is prone to fading into white why we do not see these bleached bombs? Most that have any original paint seem to retain their full colours despite standing in sunlight on shelves. Here is a No.23 dated November 1916 as an example of a bomb that has had no special attention. Not much fading here - SW

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Gunner Bailey

Actually we do see the bleached bombs. That is what we are discussing and I have one the same! I questioned this 'white band' with one of the UK's most knowlegable Mills people. He is in regular contact with the main researcher for Lander's book. So I am taking his opinion.

That red and pink paint on the grenade pictured hardly looks representative of a pink band 1 inch wide around the middle. If that paint residue is right, the grenade was painted top red and bottom pink. This would have been rejected by the inspectors and sent back to the factory. Looks like a poor repaint to me.

John

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calibre792x57.y

Nice try GB; I like to see a man who knows how to defend an impossible position. The bleached ones you have, do they then have the remains of the filled band? or just the white one? Is the fading even all round the bomb? Or are you merely describing the practice bombs like Michael's? I have to say that I have had that particular Mills (No.23) for nearly thirty years and I don't do re-paints - unlike the IWM! Most of the WW1 Mills I have seen with original paint still present don't look anything like the book version, no time to hand paint neat bands, the paint ran everywhere. I have to except WW2 Mills which seem much neater. Have another look at the No.36 of Michael H or those of LF. So if you think mine looks like a bad re-paint I'd start to wonder about the ones you have been looking at. I have one dated December 1915 - little paint remains but enough to show that the pink paint had run down the body in a similar fashion. As I wrote earlier I have been in the business of re-painting explosive stores myself and neatness was not at the front of our purpose, just getting it done. I can also tell you I'd think it pretty unlikely in wartime a viewer would reject a store for paintwork! You should have a look at the WW2 photos of some of the real D- Day stripes on aircraft and compare them with the pampered show examples now flying. It's off-piste but you will see what I mean. - SW

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Gunner Bailey

Hi Sommewalker.

My position is not indefensible but yours and Michael's is, as you have no factual evidence to back up your positions. If you have access to the original manufacturers specifications (as I have) you will see that there is no specification for a single white band on any type of Mills grenade.

The specification for training grenades, issued in September 1915 (just as production greatly increased) was for an all white body. There is, I repeat, no specification for a narrow white stripe on training grenades or any other Mills grenade. Bands for the 5 and 23 were either Pink or Green depending on the filling. Never white. This remained the same except for the Gibbons training grenade which was could be bare metal, white or zinc plated but with no painted bands at all.

My own grenade with a light band was purchased in original condition. The body is fitted with the early style slab sided lever, the filler plug is aluminium and the base plug was by Moorwoods and dated 12/15. All aspects added up to a late 1915 / early 1916 produced grenade.

Of key interest is that the base plug was so securely fitted into the base of the grenade that the previous owner had tried to remove it with Mole grips and had stripped the outer grip area. So this base plug had been there from new. The filler plug was also un-screwable and the previous owner had drilled it to see if the body was empty. Using a freezing technique I was able to remove the base plug and the centrepiece. There was evidence this grenade had been filled and then emptied at some stage. This confirms that it was not used for training but had been taken as a souvenir. It’s also worth stating that the photos of the ‘training’ grenade in Lander's book and Michael's are in good order and have not been thrown about. A well used training grenade shows clear evidence of having been regularly thrown and show signs of wear and damage (see page 43 of the Lander's book for a good example of this). Michael's grenade in not a practice bomb, no more than mine is. We should just be thankful that remains of WW1 paint still exist on these examples. It is very rare.

I showed my grenade to my friend who has worked with the researchers of the Lander's book. I asked about the band. His immediate response was ‘It was pink but has faded’. No hesitation. No doubt in his mind at all. He had seen this before where the pink had faded to a ‘off cream’ colour. He also had his own training No 5s, all of which were painted white all over. I do not have any of these but do have one WW1 No 36 training grenade which is white all over, as are their WW2 counterparts.

There is no basis for saying that No 5 training grenades had a single white band except for the single photo in the Lander's book which I believe to be mis-captioned. There is no specification for it. And clearly some people are misled by the photo.

So please, if you want a serious discussion, please come up with some facts based upon historic documents and specifications.

John

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Michael Haselgrove

John,

I have read the above contributions from your goodself and Sommewalker. It does seem to me that the "off-white" paint on your grenade does have a hint of pink and there is certainly a remnant of red paint near the filling plug. In those circumstances, I am prepared to accept that the pink has faded and to agree that your bomb was a live bomb and not a practice/dummy version. However, I still maintain that my bomb is a practice/dummy version. Additionally, having seen the paint on Sommewalker's grenade it is my view that it is original.

Since you have the manufacturer's specifications, perhaps you will be kind enough to let me know how all practice/dummy grenades were marked prior to the introduction of the practice version of the No.5 in September 1915?

The reason I ask is that the troops practised with all types of grenade in service prior to September 1915. Those practice grenades were marked to distinguish them from live grenades. I attach photos of two No.2 grenades in my collection. There is no doubt in my mind that the white paint is original. One of the grenades is sectioned. The other grenade I think originally had a green paint band as you can just see the green paint showing through the white in one or two places. I have seen at least two No.1 grenades marked in the same way with a white band. It is thus my view that this was the standard way to mark a practice grenade prior to September 1915, and that my No. 5 was similarly marked. My No.5 practice grenade has what I think is the original base plug which is marked Nov. 1915. The manufacture of the Sept. 1915 practice/dummy grenades would not have commenced instantly and it is perfectly possible that my grenade, which would have been a reject given the centre-fire striker, was marked in the way.

In the meantime, many thanks for the "formula" for the pink paint used. If you have a particular interest in original paintwork on grenades I will be very happy to provide photos of some of mine.

Regards,

Michael.

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Gunner Bailey

Michael

My documentation and research has only covered the Mills, so I can't comment in detail on other types. What is plain from your No 2's, is that white paint was applied, so making it the standard colour for practice grenades. Please also note how the colour has changed over the years.

I must repeat however that there was no paint specification for the training Mills until September 1915. It is likely that up to that date practice for bombing specialists (and officers) was carried out with live grenades, which were very, very scarce up to the August. After September we have a specification (all over white). Before that you have no proof of anything. Mills production was very slow between May and July. The first volume deliveries arriving in the August. Most troops did not see the Mills until October 1915. They were used at Loos but not all troops were trained in their use.

So again, I do not think your grenade is painted as practice grenade. It does not in any way add up and there's no way you can prove it either. Your best bet is to accept that it is a pink band, that has lost its colour over 95 years and is a rare item in its own right.

I won't repeat myself again and will leave you to assemble the facts and compare them to what actual evidence you have before you.

John

John

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calibre792x57.y

GB well, you provide your own evidence to support our position. Your argument was that the white banded grenades were once live bombs and the pink band had bleached to white. You have offered nothing to explain what happened to the red 'filled' band and the chance of pink band bleaching evenly all the way round the bomb without leaving any portion pink seems extremely unlikely. Looking at the picture posted by Michael of a white banded bomb and the one posted by you it doesn't look as if they ever had any other colour. There seems to be some red sealant around the filling plug of yours but also some colour on top of the filling plug beneath which it appears damaged. Given that it has been bodged about I don't think any conclusion can be drawn from that. I am unable to see why you think it was once a live bomb. I have seen enough of these white banded bombs to conclude that they were deliberately painted thus. I can see no reason why that should be unless it was to denote a training unit. However I also accept you have taken up your position and mere logic is not going to move you. - SW

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Gunner Bailey

SW. When you provide the evidence that there were instructions to manufacturers to paint white bands on Mills Grenades, then I'll listen to you.

Whilst you just say you've seen enough white bands - well after 90 + years you have probably seen pink changed to white in every case. There were never any white bands.

It's not about 'mere logic' as you have not provided any. Poor anecdotal evidence at best.

Also you may have owned your grenade for 30 years but that paint is never 90 years old. Too bright, too thick, and I doubt it would sustain under analysis. Looks at the paint on Michael's grenades. That is 90 year old paint. Worn, faded and discoloured.

In the case of my grenade, when I removed the centrepiece there were clear stains and residue on the aluminium. It had once been filled. Regarding the red bands, you rarely see any red left on grenades that is original from WW1. I have grenades from WW2 that have some red crosses on them but even they have lost perhaps 70% of the paint over the years. With No 5s, at best you may find a little spot of red around the filling hole (see my photo), or sometimes in the filler screw groove. But over 90 years it mostly lifts off or has corroded off. And that is for grenades that have NOT been buried on the ground.

I repeat. THERE WERE NEVER ANY SPECIFICATIONS FOR WHITE BANDS TO BE PAINTED ON MILLS BOMBS.

Your evidence please! Facts, specifications, dates. I'll await your next post.

John

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calibre792x57.y

It seems that your argument is founded on two points. 1. You cannot find any reference to white banded grenades in your paperwork. 2. You know a man who knows a man who knows a lot about grenades and he agrees with you assertion. Apparently it is more important to find a reference in your documents than to look at the bomb. This is an interesting reversal of your view when we had a disagreement about the nomenclature of the No. 36 when I was quoting the LoC reference and you were saying that was irrelevant! I refer you to the last sentence in my post #185. Bye -SW

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Gunner Bailey

SW. The reason there is no evidence of white bands painted on Mills Bombs is because there never were any. You are deluding yourself. I have challenged you to find evidence that they existed, but of course you cannot do this.

"2. You know a man who knows a man who knows a lot about grenades and he agrees with you assertion" This is a gross distortion of my position. My friend has worked with the main researcher on the Lander's book. I would place him in the top 5 Mills experts in the country and I greatly respect his opinion. It is his assertion I am reporting, not mine. He is more expert than me.

I have all the L series instructions issued to manufacturers that cover the manufacture and finishing of the No 5, the No 23 (all marks) the No 36 (in WW1). There is no mention of white bands in any of these documents. Yes, it is important to find the source documents because looking at a bomb, you can be fooled - as you are by paint that changes colour over the years.

If you rank yourself as a historian, you will either come up with some EVIDENCE or just keep quiet. Because you do not have a leg to stand on. My challenge to you stands. Put up or shut up.

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Lancashire Fusilier

Both Sommewalker and Michael are correct, and John is correct also, in that there were No.5 Mills Grenades painted with a single white band indicating a Practice/Dummy Grenade and there were Mills Grenades painted completely white to again indicate a Practice/Dummy Grenade.

There is photographic evidence of the early No. 5 Mills Practice/Dummy Grenades having a white painted band ( see attached photo from page 41 of Rick Landers' ' Grenade ' reference book ' ) which supports both Sommewalker and Michael, and to further support them, there is also a reference on page 17 of Darryl W. Lynn's book ' The Grenade Recognition Manual - Volume 2, which using the official jargon refers to the " Grenade, Hand, Practice, No. 5 Mk.I " for which " The official marking was a white band stenciled in black with the word ' Practice '. They may also be found with the body painted entirely white ".

The reference to the complete body of the grenade being painted white, for which there is much documentation and photographic evidence, supports John's contention.

The early practice of paint banding Mills grenades to identify their specific types, is well documented. Live grenades had a red band hand painted around the top of the grenade, and to indicate the explosive filling used, there was a further lower hand painted band around the body of the grenade, a green band to indicate a filling of Amatol and a pink painted band to indicate a filling of Ammonal Alumatol, or Bellite.

It is perfectly logical that this accepted form of paint banding Mills grenades to clearly identify their type, would have been extended to also include a white painted band to indicate a practice or dummy grenade usually filled with sand, and whilst the regulations may have also called for this white painted band to have been stenciled over in black paint with the word ' Practice ', I am sure that like many regulations this was flouted as the stencil broke with excessive use or was lost, and as a result, a white painted band without the black stencil was considered sufficient to meet the regulation.

Due to the adverse conditions in the Trenches, I am sure the bodies of the grenades often became completely dirty and discoloured hiding the paint banding, and when used in action, whilst it made no real difference if the grenade had a green painted band or a pink painted band, as both were live, highly effective and lethal, nobody wanted to attack a German trench armed with a bag full of what turned out to be white paint banded Dummy/Practice Grenades filled with sand!, that is why I am sure the regulations were changed, and practice/dummy grenades were later required to be completely painted white to clearly distinguish them as Practice/Dummy Grenades, whereas live grenades continued to have just a coloured painted band(s).

I trust that both Rick Landers and Darryl W. Lynn did their due diligence before committing to print, and the photo on page 41 of Rick Landers' book is certainly strong, if not conclusive evidence of the white paint banding on the early Practice/Dummy Mills grenades.

What exactly happened almost 100 years ago, is never really certain, and even if we have the then regulations fully documented, we often find that in the heat of battle or in the frontline trench conditions men often deviated from the regulations or ignored them completely, so I am not at all surprised to see white paint banded practice/dummy grenades without the stenciled in black word ' Practice ' alongside those examples with the stenciled word, as well as those painted completely white, and it is completely logical, feasible, correct and legitimate to encounter all three versions.

Regards,

LF

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Gunner Bailey

LF. You are clearly trying to build a bridge, but I repeat, there was never a specification for a white band. Nor was there ever a published formula for making white paint, unlike red, green and pink in the core manufacturing documentation.

There is also the operational logic of not painting a white band on a practice grenade. What if by chance someone, in dull light picked up grenades with a white band thinking they were pink? It would be a disaster. That is why training grenades were white all over.

I firmly believe the caption on P41 of Lander's book to be incorrect. You may like to look at Lander's book page 279 which give a summary of grenade markings. There is no mention of white rings even as an exception in WW1. So here in the same book we have page 279 contradicting a photo caption on p41. Case proven for p41 being a mistake.

No book of this kind is ever published without the odd error no matter how authoratative it may be.

John

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Lancashire Fusilier

John,

The nice thing about this Forum is it brings together differing views, and with regard to WW1 it is better to avoid the use of ' never ', as never often turns out to be proven incorrect.

Yes, you can use the argument that Lander's book is wrong, whereas, Darryl W. Lynn, whom I spoke to just recently when I purchased a copy of his book from him, quotes from official text, presumably a List of Changes, as follows " Grenade, Hand, Practice, No. 5 Mk.I " for which " The official marking was a white band stenciled in black with the word ' Practice '. They may also be found with the body painted entirely white ".

I shall try to speak again with Darryl Lynn, and see what he can provide to me by way of confirmation.

I agree with you as the the danger of painting just a white band, and I refer to that danger in my post #189, and of course that was probably the reason why the single white band was dropped in favour of the all over white paint for Practice/Dummy Grenades.

As it stands, we have a photo of a white banded Mills No.5 Grenade from Rick Landers, and other examples from members, we also have Darryl Lynn quoting from a List of Changes which details the white banded Mills No.5 Practice/Dummy Grenade.

Currently, you are basing your argument on both Landers and Lynn publishing incorrect material in their reference books, something I shall gladly take up with Darryl Lynn personally, and then report back.

Regards,

LF

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Gunner Bailey

I must admit the LOC has passed me by so far. I'd like to see the number, and date if possible. If Mr Lynn can get it for you? The text you quote implies that white bands were more 'normal' than all over white. I don't think that stands up regarding the grenades held by most collectors. All over white is always the predominant colour for known Mills training grenades. Also a single photo (p41) is not conclusive evidence in any way, especially if there is no official specification to back it up.

Regarding the p41 photo. It's a monochrome image. There's no way to tell if the colour is white, cream, yellow, pinkish or whatever. There's also no evidence of lettering. So not conclusive in any way.

I do find it odd though that no intact / perfect copy of a Mills No 5 Practice Grenade with a white band and the word practice on it seems to be in any museum I know. If anyone would have one it's Norman Bonney.

Your thoughts on page 279 in the Landers book? That contradicts Lynn completely.

John

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Lancashire Fusilier

John,

I have contacted Darryl Lynn who is in Canada, and asked for information on the white banded Practice/Dummy No.5 Mills grenade referenced in his book and Landers' book, and he has replied saying that he will check his source and get back to me, so hopefully, some information on this may be forthcoming.

I agree with you, and as yet I have not seen any example of a WW1 grenade with the black stencil marking Lynn refers to, although, and again I have not seen one, there are references to an all over white Mills No.5 Practice/Dummy grenade again with the stencil in black ' Practice ', as detailed and shown on page 43 of Rick Lander's book ( copy attached ).

Perhaps, using the stencil proved impractical and it was abandoned in favour of just using the all over white paint.

I suspect, that genuine examples with the black stencil must be incredibly rare.

Regards,

LF

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Lancashire Fusilier

I have in my Collection an extremely interesting official training manual issued by the General Staff and published in September 1916 - " The Training and Employment of Bombers ". It has 120 pages full of excellent information on all aspects of ' Bombing ' and ' Grenades ' including technical line drawings of both British and German Grenades ( see index ), along with some excellent period photographs on using grenades, which I shall post.

LF

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Michael Haselgrove

Lancashire Fusilier,

Many thanks for your posts above. Much appreciated.

I wasn't going to contribute further to this thread. However, solely on the issue of the stencilled word "PRACTICE" on Mills (and other) grenades, it is quite likely that the lettering in most cases will have worn off given that it is positioned just where it would suffer the most wear from handling. As an example, I attach a couple of photos of a practice Pitcher grenade in my collection. Although the paint is in good condition and has not been greatly handled you will see that the words "PITCHER GRENADE DUMMY" have faded, despite being on the base where the wording would not be affected by handling.

Regards,

Michael H.

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Lancashire Fusilier

Michael,

I am so pleased that you are continuing your valuable contributions to this Thread, your Pitcher Grenade is a real gem with the ' Dummy ' stamping/stencil still intact, quite a rarity.

Thanks for posting it.

Regards,

LF

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Lancashire Fusilier

Michael,

Here is a technical line drawing of the ' Pitcher ' Grenade taken from Major Graham M. Ainslie's book " Hand Grenades - A Handbook on Rifle and Hand Grenades " published in 1917.

The No.13 Grenade ( Light Pitcher ) - was introduced in the List of Changes 17252 - Grenade, hand, No.13

( Mark I ) L May 20 1915 :

Cylindrical : Steel body with internal tin cylinder : light.

Igniter for Nos. 13 and 14 hand grenades. ( Mark I ) L

Friction arrangement, with safety fuze and detonator.

Body length - 4 inches.

Body diameter - 1.875 inches.

Filled weight - 1 lb 2 oz.

Explosive charge - Ammonal.

Ignition - Friction igniter, safety fuze and No.8 Mark VII detonator.

On 13th April 1915, Roburite & Ammonal Ltd. secured an order from the War Office for the supply of 10,000 No.13 Light Pitcher Grenades ( Complete ) at a cost of 4 shillings and 5.1/2 pence each.

There was also the No.14 Grenade the ( Heavy Pitcher ) being 6 oz heavier than the steel No.13, with the No.14 being made with an iron body, and was also introduced with the List of Changes 17252.

The No.14 Grenade ( Heavy Pitcher ) - List of Changes 17252 - Grenade, hand, No.14 ( Mark I ) L May 20 1915 :

Cylindrical : Iron body with internal tin cylinder : heavy.

Igniter for Nos. 13 and 14 hand grenades. ( Mark I ) L

Friction arrangement, with safety fuze and detonator.

Body length - 4 inches.

Body diameter - 1.875 inches.

Filled weight - 1 lb 8 oz.

Explosive charge - Ammonal.

Ignition - Friction igniter, safety fuze and No.8 Mark VII detonator.

On 22nd April 1915, Decimals Ltd. secured an order from the War Office for the supply of 10,000 No.14 Heavy Pitcher Grenades ( shell only ) at a cost of 1/2d each.

Problems with dampness caused ignition failures and prematures caused many accidents, prompting grenadiers to dubb themselves ' the suicide club '.

The No.13 and No.14 Pitcher Grenades were little used after 1915, and were finally declared obsolete on 29 July 1920.

These grenades were packed in wooden boxes containing 25 grenades and two tin boxes. One tin box contained 6 feet of safety fuze and 25 detonators, and the other tin box contained 25 igniters and a pair of pliers for cutting the fuze and crimping the detonators.

Information from R. Landers and D. W. Lynn's books.

Regards,

LF

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Gunner Bailey

Lancashire Fusilier,

Many thanks for your posts above. Much appreciated.

I wasn't going to contribute further to this thread. However, solely on the issue of the stencilled word "PRACTICE" on Mills (and other) grenades, it is quite likely that the lettering in most cases will have worn off given that it is positioned just where it would suffer the most wear from handling. As an example, I attach a couple of photos of a practice Pitcher grenade in my collection. Although the paint is in good condition and has not been greatly handled you will see that the words "PITCHER GRENADE DUMMY" have faded, despite being on the base where the wording would not be affected by handling.

Regards,

Michael H.

That's a very fine and rare example Michael. Many a museum would be proud of that one. John

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Gunner Bailey

John,

I have contacted Darryl Lynn who is in Canada, and asked for information on the white banded Practice/Dummy No.5 Mills grenade referenced in his book and Landers' book, and he has replied saying that he will check his source and get back to me, so hopefully, some information on this may be forthcoming.

I agree with you, and as yet I have not seen any example of a WW1 grenade with the black stencil marking Lynn refers to, although, and again I have not seen one, there are references to an all over white Mills No.5 Practice/Dummy grenade again with the stencil in black ' Practice ', as detailed and shown on page 43 of Rick Lander's book ( copy attached ).

Perhaps, using the stencil proved impractical and it was abandoned in favour of just using the all over white paint.

I suspect, that genuine examples with the black stencil must be incredibly rare.

Regards,

LF

Hi LF.

If Mr Lynn can come up with a LoC, a specification and a date, I'll happily change my position. John

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Gunner Bailey

I have in my Collection an extremely interesting official training manual issued by the General Staff and published in September 1916 - " The Training and Employment of Bombers ". It has 120 pages full of excellent information on all aspects of ' Bombing ' and ' Grenades ' including technical line drawings of both British and German Grenades ( see index ), along with some excellent period photographs on using grenades, which I shall post.

LF

I got my copy from an American library on a download. Great if you have an original. John

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