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mills bomb

November 1 2000 at 6:22 PM
Gary Hall 

Hello All , I was wondering where did Canadian Army personal were thier Mills Bomb? Where did they carry it? There does not seem to be any clips on Pattern 37 Web gear to hang a grenade? ie - like the photos of US troops - who hang them from various locations on thier kit. Was every soldier issued a Mills Bomb? Did Canada make the Mills grenade or was it British manufacture?

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Ian Kotchian

One of your pouches

November 1 2000, 6:32 PM 

You can carry two Number 36 Mills bombs in one of your Pattern 1937 pouches. The other was reserved for extra Bren MAGAZINES for the Section's Bren. You Carry 50 rounds of 303 for your rifle in a bandoleer carried over your shoulder or around your waist.

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Jenney Gould

Who made the Mills Bomb?

November 1 2000, 6:52 PM 

The Mills bomb was developed by William Mills of Birmingham in 1915.

It was referred to as the No. 5 grenade, but I remember reading somewhere that it was also able to be modified so that it could be fired as a rifle grenade (called No. 23 grenade).

The mills grenade remained in British and Australian service until the 1960's. I'm not sure if this includes Canada. Anyone know that for sure??

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Ed Storey

No. 36 Grenade

November 2 2000, 12:00 AM 

The Hand Grenade is probably the most dangerous weapon in the Infantry Sections arsenal. They do not discriminate between friend or foe and they have a very basic means of functioning. The No. 36 Grenade had to be primed, which means the fuse had to be inserted into the grenade, before it could be used. This was obviously done in the rear or at night and the potential for accidents was very high. The cotter pin on the Grenade was usually bent back so that it would be difficult for the pin to be removed thus allowing the safety leaver to fly off which would then activate the grenade.

Grenades were carried in the Basic Pouch as this helped secure them and helped prevent premature detonation. Strapping Grenades to belts and things is not practical as they can be prematurely detonated or lost.

Frost and Woods in Smiths Falls, Ontario was the manufacturer of the No. 36 Grenade as well as numerous other armaments.

I have thrown numerous grenades and they are a weapon that is to be respected. The No. 36 was still being thrown when I joined the Military in 1978, but by 1980 they were all gone. The No. 36 Grenade is still covered in the current Grenade Manual for DND.

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Michael Dorosh


November 2 2000, 8:02 AM 

While enroute to the Dieppe beaches, a Black Watch soldier mishandled a grenade he was priming and it detonated on the troopship, killing several men.

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Wilf Pyle

It is ture

November 2 2000, 11:48 AM 

Yes, my father-in-law was present when this accident happened. He said the fellow did not know what he was doing at all but that there was much sea sickness, darkness and general disorder at the time. My father in law said he was studying an air photo at the time the grenade went off. He survived unscathed but was badly wounded later in the war by a determined german machine gunner who did not leave his partially destroyed tank.

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Russ Benneweis


February 17 2003, 1:53 PM 

Your father was a member of the Black Watch?? Please tell us more about where and when (was it in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany) he was wounded!

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You asked about the late F-I-L

March 14 2003, 7:49 PM 

He is casualty no 1452 and the entire record is available at:

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David Gordon

Grenade Mishaps

November 2 2000, 3:56 PM 

My wife does research dealing with the FFI and has an account of a Maquis group that got two SOE agents dropped to them for a special mission they were planning. The two British agents were killed when a No 36 grenade went off while they were in the process of priming it.

Logically you would compress the striker, set it with the "spool" and then pin it for safety before placing the detonator and fuse assebly inside and finally screwing the base plug on.

You can, of course, set one without first making it safe but it wouldn't save any time. Not sure if you could detonate a cap somehow by over tighening a base plug with the set tool or not.

Either way, they killed themselves somehow and the photo didn't look like they were expecting it...

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Russ Benneweis


February 17 2003, 1:54 PM 

To what photo are you referring?

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Tim Morrison

Unstable fuses

February 18 2003, 5:23 PM 

Like a number of other people posting, one thing about being in the CF in the ealry 70's was exposure to old technology.

I was told -- and some quick checking seems to bear out -- that fulminate of mercury fuses were very sensitive to temperature, shock and friction. It is an ustable compound that isnt used anymore from what I can find.

So, even with the striker held in place until you get the thing sealed up again, and the fuse protected from the environment you are at risk.


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Ian Kotchian

Grenade Training

November 3 2000, 1:38 AM 

I was talking to a Korean Friend of mine and he said that although corporal punishment has been generally ended in Army training that it still can be used by Drill Instructors at the Grenade range!

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Michael Rawlings

Huh, thats not who made the mills grenade

February 14 2003, 6:07 PM 

The mills grenade was first created by William Mills in 1916, hence "mills"

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Ed Storey

No.36 Grenade

February 14 2003, 6:41 PM 

How about some documented evidence on that? I was talking about the company in Canada that manufactured the No. 36 Grenade during WWII, not the supposed 'inventor' of the No. 5 Grenade. Just to get you started on your quest for accurate information, try looking in "An Introduction to British Grenades" by I.D. Skennerton ISBN 0 949749 10 9.

Check page 8, "The Mill,s Grenade made its debut in April and May of 1915 when orders were places with W. Mills Ltd, Mills Munitions Co., W. & J. Wilder and the Birmingham Engineering Co. Ltd."

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Keith Matthews

No.36M Grenade

February 18 2003, 5:03 AM 

The variant of the "Mills Bomb" in use in the Second World War is correctly referred to as Hand Grenade No.36M

The first model "Mills Bomb" was the No5 - there are detail differences with the No.36 especially in the profile at the base of the body (rounded inwards on the No5), base plug and the lever/pin mounting. I have read conflicting stories about it's naming and invention.

The No.36 was supposedly a subsequent modification. The 'M' is for Mesopotamia - apparently humidity affected the explosive in this theater so the M model had seals against moisture.

Ian Hogg in various publications (e.g. Jane's Infantry Weapons 1978) railed against the 36M. He cites 'tests' which showed the base plug and fuse were lethal out to 275m but "...in fact the grenade produces a relatively limited number of very large fragments and also a lot of cast iron dust". Because of this he claims the effectiveness is dependant on the axis of the grenade on explosion. I would be interested if anyone can put some detail on these 'tests' please.

It seems to fail to be effective as either a defencive or offensive grenade. I assume it's longevity was due to cheap and easy production, certainly not it's safety features...


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Art Johnson

some evidence?

February 20 2003, 8:20 AM 

Pt I not a rant

Mr. William Mills of Birmingham put forward a design for a self igniting hand grenade in
January of 1915. British patent No. 7636 was issued to him in September 1915. By
January 1916 production was 800,000 a week and by the end of 1917 when production of
the No. 5 ceased in favour of an improved design 33,168,367 had been produced. In May
of 1916 the design was slightly changed by strengthening the base plug and providing a
threaded hole. The threaded hole would accept a rod that fitted down the barrel of the rifle
and with the use of a blank cartridge could hurl a bomb 80 yds. In June of 1917 a six
second fuse was introduce to replace the five second fuse. This design became known as
the Hand and Rifle Grenade No. 23, more than 29 million were made during the war.
The stick system proved to be too hard on the rifle barrel and in the late summer of 1917
another design came into production featuring a cup discharger and a base plate. This
grenade was designated Grenade Hand and Rifle No. 36. The 23 and 36 grenades were
filled with a mixture of Trotyl and Amatol. This mixture proved to be unsuitable for
Mesopotamia and a new explosive Baratol came into use and the M designation was
added to to the numerals. Despite research to develop a better grenade the No. 36M was
the standard Commonwealth hand grenade throughout WW II and Korea. The No. 36 was
declared obsolete in 1936.
This information and more can be found in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century
Weapons and Warfare, published by Columbia House, New York.

Pt II maybe a wee rant.

In the rear of what? A truck? In my experience grenades were primed in the platoon
position. Each section was responsible for priming their own grenades. Stan Sislowski in
his book Not All of Us Were Brave mention an incident that happened while priming
grenades, and here all along I thought I was the only one to do stupid things like that.
It was drilled into our heads during training how sensitive the detonator set was. Just
holding it by the brass bulb for any length of time could cause it to explode you hold it by
the cap and even that for no longer than necessary.

There is a drill for priming grenades, probably the most important step is to examine the
interior before releasing the striker to make sure it is not already primed. Stan and I both
forgot that part of the drill once and ended up with a live grenade in our hand. Fortunately
we were able to dispose of the grenade without causing any injuries.
End of lecture, any questions?

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Ed Storey

Thanks Art

February 20 2003, 1:01 PM 

Thanks for taking the time to do the research, much appreciated. I was just trying to get those that ask the questions or make off-the-cuff comments to do a bit of digging in books or on the internet before just asking the question and hoping for a magical answer.

Perhaps this is Rant III....

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Michael Dorosh

MMMCCXCIV actually....

February 20 2003, 6:20 PM 

...but who's counting?

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May 8 2003, 3:18 PM 

This is a strange site:

Fake diploma

Fake diploma http://www.diplomaservices.com


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Colin Macgregor Stevens

I threw live No. 36 M Mk. I grenades in training in the 1970s in Canada

February 20 2003, 7:54 PM 

I clearly remember us using the No. 36 M Mk. I grenades in the early 1970s.

We had to clean our grenades (remove the grease), test the striker, and then prime them. The detonator/fuze/cap assemly came separate in a tin which was packed in the crate of grenades. There was also a special tool (2 pronged wrench) to unscrew the base plug. I still have one of these and carry it in my Denison smock.

These are NOT Mills Bombs by the way. That was the name for the WWI model. In No. 36 M Mk. I the "M" stands for Mesopotamia! A friend of mine, Barry "Frag" Gillis, knows ALL about these and I'm trying to get him to write it down for posterity. e.g. "FW" marking on many = Frost & Woods, a Canadian maker.

At Albert Head (?) (a WWII coastal defence fort) in British Columbia, Canada, we each threw two live No. 36 M Mk. I. The area was a grenade range and we cleaned and primed the grenades in a rear area. Each man was then to carry two live hand grenades, go through a twisting corridor in the concrete to where the instructor was waiting in the throwing bay.

Following instructions, one grenade was placed on the floor, you took position, and threw it like a cricket ball. You had to watch where it landed (in case it became a "blind"). Then you ducked and waited for the explosion - 4 second fuze.

The regimental idiot - By the time he got the the throwing bay, had already pulled on of the pins out and was flexing the lever slightly. Later, when he threw, the greade went straight up, and straight down, and landed on the concrete wall in front of him. He jsut stood and stared at it. In spite of his natural tendancies to left the daft bugger blow himself to bits, the NCO brushed the grenade off the wall, threw the fellow down and covered him.

Occasionally Canadian soldiers in combat would simply hook one or two No. 36 M Mk. I grenades to their P-37 web belt, between the basic pouches and the buckle. Not very secure, but handy. A famous photo of a Calgary Highlanders sniper has some carried this way, as do some Korean War photos.

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