If there’s one area of my collection that I would like to improve the most its that of weapons and ordnance. I have a respectable collection now; with virtually all the major British used weapons of the Second World War, but there are many, more unusual, weapons I would love to add to the collection. Part of the reason I haven’t got more weapons is that they tend to be expensive and hard to get hold of. You don’t come across them on markets and bootsales very often so you are beholden to the prices online dealers charge. They are also far more restricted by the law, guns need to be deactivated and the explosives need to be removed from grenades and shells (you will get no complaints from me on that one…I don’t fancy having a live grenade in the house!).
Having said all that I do have some nice pieces in my collection including this ‘Mills Bomb’. Officially titled the No36M Grenade, this grenade is a development of the No5 grenade that was introduced in WW1. The original grenade design was developed by William Mills of Sunderland and consisted of a pineapple shaped cast iron body segmented to allow it to break apart into shrapnel when it exploded. The grenade was to prove incredibly successful and was modified to become the No36M in 1917 and this model remained in use with the British Army into the 1970s.The grenade weighs 1lb 11oz and a trained man could throw it up to 50 feet, however if the grenade exploded on a hard surfacce it could send fragments up to 100 feet so it was advisable for the thrower to have somewhere to hide from the blast when it exploded.
This example is in lovely condition and still has the shellac waterproofing and red and green markings clearly visable. The red crosses mean that the grenade is specially waterproofed and sealed for use in tropical areas whilst the green line indicates it originally had a filling of Baratol. Baratol is a mixture of TNT and barium nitrate with 1% wax to bind the explosive together.The grenade breaks down into several pieces including the pin, base plug, plunger and spring. The base plug is dated 1944 and the grenade itself is 1945 and marked ‘G’ which indicates the body was made by Galt Metal Industries of Ontario, Canada. The base plug was made by The Schultz Die Casting Company, also from Ontario.Whilst not hard to find, due to their iconic status, Mills Bombs in good condition are hard to find for less than £80 these days, however it is the quintessential British grenade and I am very glad to have one in my collection.