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?
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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."
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...
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?
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.
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.
The photos you mention of grenades hooked on the belt were staged by combat photographers; that is not evidence any sane man ever carried them that way in combat.
What does Art have to say on this point?
The photo of H.A. Marshall by Ken Bell is one of several photos in a staged shoot at Fort Braschaet (sp?) in Belgium in October 44.
The famous Korean War photo has been the subject of much controversy; Art posted info here that positively IDed the RCR man in question. Infantry Journal mentioned that the grenades on the belt were put there by the war photographer for dramatic effect.
I can't honestly see any infantryman trying to go to ground with a grenade strapped onto him where it would definitely hurt him should he flop onto it - or try and crawl along the ground with the grenade there...
I also had a fun experience with grenades, while traing in wainwright we were in the grenade pit waitng our turn. The drill was one PVT and a NCO would go into the maze and take up position in front of a cement wall with a thick (4inch) window in front of you. There were some targets like oil drums, tires, herman the german targets, etc. Pull the pin, extend the arm, one arm in front the other behind and windmill the toss onto one of the targets. One individual that could not figure this out tossed the grenade over the top and it landed right in front of the wall. The NCO (i remember he was a rather unpleasant MCPL) grabbed the pvt by the scruff of the neck and dragged him back through the maze to safety, the pvt was actually trying to go get the grenade and try to throw it properly. I would have liked to try and use some of those Hollywood grenades you see in movies and TV, thats some grenade that blows up an entire house, plane, building, etc. I can't even remember the grenades giving off anything more than a small flash and some black smoke.
Actually Mike I have carried grenades on my belt particularly No 72s. I never lost any and they didn't seem to get in the way and it was much more convienent than trying to dig them out of a pouch or bag. Mind you it depended on the situation I have also carried them in a pouch.
Strange things happen on the grenade range. A friend of mine who was in the habit of wearing the chin strap of his helmet around the back of his head reared back to lobb his grenade and his helmet tipped forward covering his eyes. In the scamble to tip his helmet back up his grenade just cleared the parapette. He didn't have to be told again why it is called a CHIN strap.
As an Range Safety Officer I ran quite a few ranges for various units, both Militia and Reg and there is often (not always) something to enliven your day. Grenades which go sideways along the parapet, trickle over the top, airbursts, dropped grenades (followed by the smacking noise from the NCO after the smoke cleaned), snagged sleaves, hysteria so the thrower couldn't throw and multiple blinds. One of the more interesting times was at Ft Drum NY when our first grenade exploded and was followed by two more explosions. We waited and the second grenade was thrown and several more explosions followed that. We closed the range right after that as apparently it was the policy on that US Reserve Base to leave all blinds for disposal by their EOD. We felt it wasn't quite the thing we wanted happening, I think the phrase used was 'enough of this shit!' Apparently the CF was still charged for rental of that facility even though it was deemed unsafe.
Ya know, you get to think alot about life when you're getting ready to walk out and blow a blind.
Talking about blinds and duds in 1983 I was in Recce Sqn RCD in Germany we had the dubious pleasure of throwing (disposing) of the remaining stocks of the Dutch made V40 grenade in CFE. A great idea about its small size, to bad it was so unreliable and generally unsafe, still have the safety pull rings.
I was a cadet at Banff National Army Cadet Camp in the summer of 1974 when that accident happened in Valcartier Army Cadet Camp. One kid pulled the pin out of a blue painted undrilled modern grenade mounted on a display board. Two English, two French and two bi-lingual cadets were killed in the explosion. Everyone in the room, some thirty people, were injured in one way or another, shock, fragments or hearing damage. I believe the instructor was eventually crusified for that.
1974 was a memorable summer. The son of a Sgt in Pet was eaten by a bear, a WWII Tiger Moth crashed killing its two person crew one hundred yards behind my barracks while later a kid hung himself from the tree in front. The Canadian Airborne Regiment defended Nicosea Airport and I remember this real little sweetheart from the Banff School of fine Arts...
Oh, what a pity that camp was closed.
Last summer I met a fellow (sorry I've forgotten his name) at Military Antiques store on Yonge St in Richmond Hill, who was a Ordnance Officer with HQ Coy Canadian Airborne Regt. He apparently was shot in the head buy a Turkish Sniper, the round passing through his helmet, temple and out again. Yes, he has a very distinctive bullet wound. We chatted for quite a while and he showed me his Veterans Affairs cards and a number of other pieces of ID that I felt his story was legitamate.
After the world stopped moving he apparently looked up at his Sargeant, an old Korea vet and asked his opinion. The sarge's comment was 'Well sir, the little c**t can't shoot straight.'
PS Tony's store has moved up Yonge St to Stouffville Rd. Has anyone been there since he moved?
Safety when handling Grenades is as serious as when handling any firearm/explosive/ordnance, but more so.
I know nothing about the incident mentioned but I have worked in UK military museums for over 20 years and so far have found five examples of unexploded ordnance in collections, three were No5 or 36M Grenades. One had been in a 'handling stuff for schools' box. I don't know field or QM procedures for grenades but I do know use of the term 'safe' is subjective. In all cases the grenades had come from official military sources or former soldiers.
My summary of the issue is (assuming grenade = shell + explosive filling + fuse/igniter):
1/ Military view of 'safe':
shell + explosive filling, no fuse
2/ Civilian (i.e. museum) view of 'safe':
shell only, no explosive, no fuse
3/ Trainers/re-enactors view of 'safe':
shell + fuse (for effect), no explosive
So if you wish to create a pyro effect grenade there is a huge difference between thinking 'safe' is 2 but getting 1!!!
The only way to check for an explosive filling is to remove the filler plug and peer in, not for the inexperienced. It is a serious job to remove a sealed filler screw, they were not meant to be removed - If sealed or tight it is probably 'as issued' so get an expert to do it. It is also very easy to damage the soft brass screw.
In my view though, it should be a safety skill which is passed on and becomes as instinctive as checking for an empty breech when someone passes you an 'empty' weapon.
I had the enjoyable experience of having a LAW rocket not fire while on the range. You get that funny feeling in your gut when the NCO is telling everyone to slowly walk away from you leaving you alone on the range and then telling everyone else to take cover behind the cement wall, leaving you standing there while he finds cover. He then instructed me to slowly place the rocket down on the grond and carefully back away from it (i think that was the only time he actually spoke to me in a nice tone of voice which made me worry more). Sappers came and blew it up in place with a demo charge. It had a brown color to it just like a UK ammo box, and after talking to a couple of Sappers they said it was UK surplus.
10 seconds, check its armed (to fire), reattempt to fire, 60 seconds make it safe...
February 26 2003, 11:43 AM
recock (collapse and reextend)and attempt to refire, 60 more seconds on tgt, put to safe, place in misfire pit and have a nice day. Sounds like your "instructors" should know what they are instructing. The only problem with a M72 I ever encountered was after the 66mm rocket struck the tgt it did not explode it just went "splat" against the Centurian tank and left a white cake there (explosive filling).This is really odd because both of detonators did not work.
Heres a few things about these Grenades.
During WW1 both of these bombs were delivered covered with a heavy grease that had to be cleaned off, gas was used for this, and this caused many problems including fires being started in dug outs and in the trenches.
These grenades also had 2 tools. One was a 2 pronged iron (wire type) wrench that was used to remove and tighten the base plug. The other was hook with a cross handle, this was used to make pulling the pin easier.
When the grenades were delivered the fuses were in a seperate container. The Grenades were cleaned, the base plugs removed, the "strikers" depressed and the "J" fuse put into the bottom of the center striker tube, then the base plug replaced. I have also read that in some cases the grenades only required the "J" fuse inserted because the grenades arrived with the plungers already depressed. I can see this hapening only during War time, however you would thing the striker spring could lose strenght if the striker was locked in the depressed position for a long time.
I know that the No.5 was not a Mills Bomb, HOWEVER because it looked so much like the 36 it is likly that soldiers refered to both as Mills Bombs after the Mills was introduced. Both types were issued in 1916, and I believe that that the No.5 was used at least until 1917.
Years ago I owned a 36 dated Nov. 1915, It had an Alu. Base plug. I believe this was a prototype. It was the finest example of a Mills I have ever seen, unfortunatly it was part of my Collection that was Stolen in the 1980s when I was in the Military.
I just came across a No.5 that I have had for a few years. It's part of my current collection, and one of the items I am getting rid of. The brass base plug is well marked, however it is not shown on the Grenade recognition site.
Every No.5 that I have owned seems to be of "finer" manufacture than any of the Mills Bombs I have owned, with the exception of the Mills I mentioned above. Although this is not really important, I find it odd that the earlier made No.5s were not as crude as the later Mills Bombs.
By coincidence I found this in the Official handwritten transcriptions of Battalion Orders for the (British) 1/8 Battalion West Riding Regiment PWO
The operation of putting igniters with no.5 Grenades is not free from danger and in view of the serious accidents which have recently occurred in the process, the following instructions will be observed.
(a) As far as possible the work should be done in the open and NOT in a cellar, Dug-outs or other confined space and men should not be permitted to crowd round.
(b) Good light, so that the grenades can be crefully inspected, is important.
(c) Igniters are not to be inserted in or removed from grenades within 5 yards of any stack of grenades unless a substantial splinter proof traverse intervenes.
(d) A pit 3 feet deep or a large tub of water to be within close reach of all men fitting igniters to grenades, so that if a grenade ignites it can at once be dropped into the pit or tub, where the explosion will be confined.
I am in no position to know if this was 'Best Practice' applied or simply wishful thinking. I would guess like many of these things it may be an army wide response to some disaster.
I just got a couple of "Union Jack"s in the mail today, and this story popped out at me... this is from the "Britain at War" section, July 12, 1944...
"Punched a man's jaw- wins M.B.E.
A Home Guard captain who punched a man's jaw to save his life has been awarded the M.B.E.
He is Captain Garrard Howard of Portslade, Suffolk, a native of Tunbridge Wells.
While undergoing instruction in live grenade practice a private, instead of throwing, put a grenade into his trousers pocket. Captain Howard heard the striker go down and saw smoke coming from the man's pocket.
Without hesitation he punched the man on the jaw, and pulling the grenade from his pocket, threw it out of the throwing bay. The grenade exploded on the parapet before Captain Howard could get down himself and he recieved minor injuries"
Put it in his pocket???? (shudder)