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The hand grenade, now a part of popular culture via a thousand war films and video games, had to be re-invented for the First World War.
The process began with Private Thomas Atkins at his inventive best manufacturing “jam tin bombs” out of salvaged explosives, ration tins, nails, broken glass and anything else that came to hand. These were unpredictable to say the least and were succeeded by a variety of patent designs including the Battye Bomb, Cricket Ball and finally – and thankfully – the good and reliable Mills Bomb.
This rare example from our collections is a “Square Box Grenade”, manufactured by Roburite and Ammonal Ltd. In 1915. Similar devices were known as hairbrush grenades or, by the French, the petard raquette.
The grenade has a wooden, bat shaped handle onto which is mounted a steel box to contain an explosive charge, the outer face being designed to fragment. Missing is the friction igniter and fuse assembly, which would have been mounted on the handle.
For all that, this is a very well preserved specimen, especially in retaining its paper manufacturers label.