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Remembered Today:

Some Less Common Grenades


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The No.1 Mk 1 was officially introduced on 6 July 1908 and was the only grenade in service at this time. The 16 inch cane handle proved a major problem in trench warfare as accidents occurred when the percussion fired grenade was struck against the parados during the act of throwing. This led to the official introduction of the Mk 2 and 3 grenades on 21 May 1915 which had shorter cane or turned wood handles, reducing the overall length by just over 9 inches. Mark 1 grenades are rarely found with their original handles as most were modified by removing the handle and single ribbon, cutting the handle short at the top and refitting it into the wood block in the grenade base. The single ribbon was replaced by four short tail ribbons which were nailed directly to the block. There were several other changes with the introduction of the later marks. The cast iron fragmentation ring was made in two parts, and the charge could be trotyl, ammonal, or amatol. The two examples shown are a Mark 2 which shows the buff painted fragmentation ring with traces of the red 'filled' ring and the green 'filling' ring around the body. The latter indicates that the filling was trotyl or amatol. This example was made in 1915 by the Royal Laboratories. The Mk 3 shown has the simplified firing cap of this mark. The fragmentation ring has been painted white to indicate that this was an inert instruction model. It bears the manufacturer's stamp WECo Ltd for the Western Electric Light Co. Despite the difficulties experienced in both the production and use of these grenades, the War Office never lost it's enthusiasm for percussion hand grenades and continued to trial such designs throughout most of the War. All marks of these grenades were declared obsolete 1 March 1920 but it is unlikely that any saw operational use after mid-1916. - SW

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Nice items. Thanks for showing. Out of interest what would one pay for an inert example today if you could find one?

TT

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TT - For most of those which will be posted the problem isn't what they cost -it's finding any for sale. In the meantime. Grenade, Hand, No.2 Marks 1 & 2. Originally just before the outbreak of the War the Hales grenades were produced as rodded rifle grenades for the Mexican Govt. These were fitted with 7 mm rods for use with the Mexican contract Mausers which were to discharge them. The company was also producing grenades with 8mm rods for use with the Lebel rifles. On these grenades the bases formed a socket with split walls which pushed over the muzzle of the rifles to form a rudimentary gas seal The RFC were also interested in using them as aerial weapons fitted with rope tails. The Government placed a contract with the maker's, Cotton Powder Company, for grenades modified to be suitable for use with the SMLE. in August 1914. In November the company were asked to supply grenades fitted with 15-inch cane handles for hand use. Those from the Mexican contract converted can be told from new made models because there was no need for a socket, and the base was left solid. The long handled models were produced to March 1915 when the handles were cut short for the same reason that the Number 1 grenades were shortened. Newly manufactured grenades were fitted with short turned wood handles with four eighteen inch woven canvas streamers fastened to the butt. The No.2 grenades shared the same difficulty as the No.3 Mk 1 rifle grenades, also produced by the Cotton Powder Co. in that production of the detonators was slow. They also shared the same detonator holder. Only 130,000 Number 2 had been produced by the time production was ended in December 1915. - Nevertheless surviving Mk II examples do turn up from time to time. - SW

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I have only ever seen a sketch of one of these. It may be a prototype intermediate grenade made around 1914 and not continued with.

Here's a photo next to a standard 1913 Kugel. As to history it has recently come from a collection amassed over 50 years.

John

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Great photos.

I've never seen a No. 1 and have only ever seen one No. 2 in the flesh.

I saw a kugel just like that for sale online recently but can't remember where.

Tony

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THE NEWTON PIPPINS.

These grenades were the brainchild of Captain Henry Newton who produced them at the Second Army Workshops at Armentieres from June 1915. At this time although there were several improvised hand grenades in use the only British rifle grenade in service in France was the Number 3 rodded rifle grenade. This was a complex grenade to manufacture and the tonite filling required special detonators which could only be produced by skilled artisans. Hence there were never enough available to meet the demand. Newton's pattern was a simple design, quickly produced and easy to use. It consists of a cast iron 'carrot-shaped' hollow casting with a spigot on the base. The rod was a 17.5 inch mild steel rod with a copper gas check riveted to one end. The other was split and the bomb body was cast onto it. Into the tapered nose went the igniter set which was a shortened 0.303 in cartridge case containing a No.8 detonator with the open end crimped over. On the nose went a simple striker cap made from two short lengths of spring steel rivetted together which engaged studs cast into the body, the point of the fixing rivet over the primer of the cartridge. The grenade was fired from the service rifle by a blank cartridge and the impact with the target drove the spring cap back, firing the percussion cap and exploding the charge of ammonal. It's simplicity, availability and long range made it popular with the users. The example shown is no longer in my collection, but I found it heavily corroded near La Boiselle many years ago. The nose cap was missing and the detonator set, still in the remains of a waxed cardboard container was exposed. Only a stump of the rod remained and the one shown is a modern replacement. Although they turn up on the battle fields from time to time because the pointed nose made them unreliable on soft ground., I have never seen one in good condition - SW

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AS a by-product of the Newton Pippin Rifle grenade a Hand Pattern was also produced. This functioned in a similar way, but the body casting lacks the boss for the rod and is partitioned to form two chambers. The lower contained the charge and the upper, which had a projecting needle, the igniter set. Like the rifle model a steel striker cap was held in position by four studs projecting from the body. Beneath this was a S.A.A. cartridge case, shortened and crimped onto a short length of safety fuze which passed out of a slot in the body and returned to a No.8 detonator inserted into the charge in the lower chamber. I suspect that the upper chamber probably also contained lutin or some such material to prevent flash-over. To use, the cap was struck on a hard surface firing the primer of the case and igniting the safety fuze which gave about 5 secs delay. Like the rifle grenade, there were no safety devices once the igniter set was fitted to the bomb. About 80,000 were produced at Armentieres and they are now rare. The body casting is painted with black shellac but there are no markings. Overall length is five inches and the maximum diameter is 1.85 inches. They were produced during 1915 before Mills bombs became available to the Army in France. SW

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Very nice SW. I've never owned either of these. Though I have just got an unused No 22 RG.

Thanks for showing these two.

John

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John - certainly the hand pattern is very rare. I base this on that the owner of the private Museum at Neuville Vitasse which has a vast collection produced one to me with great pride last year. Since you raise the matter of the No.22 rodded rifle grenade I'll go on with my examples. It seems that the Trench Warfare Department obtained sketches or an example of the Pippin and set out to improve on a good idea. The new version turned the grenade body about so that it flew blunt end first which probably improved stability in flight and the grenade's performance on soft going.. It had a 15 inch rod and retained the cup shaped copper gas check. This became the No.22 Mk 1 and appears in the LoC 1 March 1916. However it created a new problem. The new cap was much heavier and larger than the pippin's. Also it introduced a safety device, a heavy gauge split pin which passed thro' the cap and prevented any accidental blow on the cap initiating the bomb. Soon reports appeared of prematures at the muzzle on launching which were eventually traced to the heavy cap 'setting back' on discharge, firing the primer and exploding the grenade. Following trials a Mk II version was introduced although as far as I can see the only change was in the cap striker which was made from a thinner gauge of better quality spring steel, hence having a firmer grip on the body and being lighter and the deletion of the split pin. This version appeared in LoC 24 October 1916 altho' it had been in service for some time before this. - SW

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A view of the improved cap design. The one on the right is the Mk 1 with a heavy split pin which was removed before launch. It has the maker's mark cast in, 'MF 1916'. The Mk II is 'D.B. 1916'. Both have their original rods with gas checks. These grenades were made in large numbers and turn up for sale fairly often - it is the condition which matters. - SW

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My first chance to look at this thread - and I found it very interesting! Nice examples, and even nicer to have the development history of the one you show. Like I suspect a reasonable number of GWF members, I had previously assumed that all GB WW1 grenades were of the familiar hand-sized throwable bomb type... So, thanks for improving my knowledge!

Trajan

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Ah, - Trajan. I bought an interesting all-steel bayonet a few days back. An EB24 according to Carter's cataloguing - I'll post it as soon as I get round to photographing it. Thanks for your interest. - SW

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Nice to see the 22's SW. The caps are incredibly rare.

Here's one you may not have seen. With the introduction of the No 36 in 1917 there was a perceived need for throwing practice grenades in the appropriate shape.

Here's on made by JP&S Ltd from solid alloy. It's dated 1917 below the filler hole.

John

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SW - Regarding the No 22. Did you know that William Mills tried to redesign it and filed the attached patent?

John

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John - Nope, youv'e got me there. But likely to fail because the whole point of the No. 22 was simplicity. GB , thank you for the photo, I have previously seen a couple of these but not for some time. But how about this. The Grenade Service Rifle No.4 Mk1 (Naval Grenade Mark1) was officially introduced in February 1915. Operating on the same principle as the No. 3 series of the Hales' bombs it was intended for use by the Royal Naval Air Service against German airships. Realising that fragmentation was likely to be less efficient in this role than blast, the bomb was made of aluminium and brass and contained no less than 6.5 ounces of Tonite. The striker is mounted on a roller bearing within the body and is very sensitive, so much so that a drop of a few inches of an armed bomb will explode it. This was to allow it to explode on the thin skin of German airships. There was no set-back collar so the users were instructed to use it with a safety spike attached to the rifle which prevented the aluminium vane from rotating until after launch..The collar of this is marked to the Cotton Powder Company. The rod was a plain ten-inch item. These are very rare items. - I have shown the business end of my example, although this does not have the detonator assembly it has the rare bakelite transit cap and the spring catch which for some reason was thought necessary to lock it in place. The bodies of these grenades were not painted except for the filling markings and this one has faint traces of a 'filled' band. SW

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Wonderful grenade SW. I have handled a couple of them but have not been able to afford one. Worth a good £800 now.

Regarding Mill's redesign of the 22 my personal theory is that Mills was angered by the Trench Warfare initiated redesign of the Mills No 5 which resulted in the No 36. So to get back at Newton he tried to best him on the 22. His patent was not accepted by TW and the No 22 continued to do good service, its simplicity being its asset.

John

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Something to keep you warm on a cold day. The No.27 Mark 1 Phosphorus grenade. This appeared in the LoC in December 1916 as a replacement for the 'P' bomb. The No.27 had the advantage that it was a Hand or Rifle grenade. As a rifle grenade it was fitted with a 15 inch rod screwed into the base, and was discharged using a blank cartridge from the service rifle. Immediately prior to discharge the safety pin and safety cap were removed from the striker assembly so that the striker was held away from the percussion primer of the igniter only by a shear wire. On discharge the set back sheared the copper shear wire and the striker fired the primer, igniting a six second fuze. At the end of the fuze was a No.6 detonator which exploded opening the tin body and scattering the white phosphorus payload. This ignites producing dense white smoke. It has pronounced incendiary and asphixiating properties and could be used to clear dugouts as well as providing smoke cover. Once filled they are difficult to deactivate and for this reason are scarce. In the Hand role the pin and safety cover are removed as before and the striker head struck on a hard surface, igniting the fuze. Happy New Year to all. - SW

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  • 2 weeks later...

As I mentioned in the post on the Grenade No.1 the War Office never lost it's enthusiasm for hand grenades which would explode on impact despite the introduction of the successful time fuzed Mills. Hence the appearance of the Number19 Mk 1 in January 1916 in LoC 18689. This grenade was the brainchild of the Trench Warfare Dept and was intended to supplement the Number 1 percussion grenades, not replace them. The igniter set was a 0.380 in black powder cartridge case and a No.8 detonator, above which was a mushroom headed striker. This was held in position by a 15 gauge copper shear wire and a steel safety pin. To use the canvas tails were released from the tie and gathered in the hand which grasped the handle. The safety pin was removed and the grenade thrown, leaving the striker held by the shear wire. The tails would ensure that it travelled nose first. On impact the copper wire would shear and the striker would be driven onto the cartridge, firing the detonator and main charge. Despite it's simplicity compared with the No.1 it still suffered from the drawback that it was all too easily struck on the trench parados during the act of throwing and was also likely to explode if accidently dropped, even with the safety pin in place. About 800,000 were made, according to Landers. They certainly saw combat as I have seen one relic recovered from near Pozieres. They soon fell into disuse. Collector's beware as I have seen a number of fakes which can be easily distinguished when compared with the genuine item. My example has the designation cast into the body and the maker's mark appears on the striker cap along with the date May 1916. The striker head is a shallow mushroom shape, not a flat disc. SW

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Hi Sommewalker,

Many thanks to you, and others, for the excellent and very interesting posts. Attached are several photos of the No.19 in my collection. On the body of the grenade there is a small casting mark in the form of a shield. I can't trace this and if anyone knows which company used the mark I will be pleased to hear.

Regards,

Michael.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi, I am new to this forum and am hoping someone can help me. When I was younger I used to collect war items and after finding my collection at my parents I started investigating some of the items. I have been reliably informed that I have a Mark1 no 1 grenade - can someone tell me more about this item? My wife is asking it is valuable, it would be good to know but let's just keep it between us ;-)

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Hi wombocombo,

Welcome to the forum. Firstly, please make sure that your grenade is inert. If in any doubt whatsoever seek advice from an appropriate expert.

Subject to that, it looks like you have a No.1 Mk.1 grenade that has had the handle cut down converting it into a Mk.II. The long handles were cut down as, in the narrow confines of a trench, it was found that the long-handled grenade, when being thrown, struck the rear wall of the trench and exploded.

You can find some information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_1_Grenade and elsewhere on the internet . I would be interested to know whether there are any marks on your example. Often the manufacturer's markings are found on the wooden handle close to where the streamers are tacked on. Have a careful look as, if present, the markings may not be clear.

I hesitate to give an opinion as to value but your example may be worth somewhere between £500 and £1,000. I expect others will have a better idea.

Regards,

Michael.

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Interesting conundrum, go to an 'expert' which in the UK can only possibly mean leaving it somewhere outside and calling the police.

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