By 1940 it was obvious that the Boys Anti Tank Rifle was completely obsolete. It would take time to develop a new anti-tank weapon (what would eventually become the PIAT) and what was needed was something in the interim that was cheap to produce, effective against armour and could be got out to troops rapidly. The design that was eventually produced used the SMLE cup discharger (normally used for throwing Mills bombs) to fire a grenade holding a shaped charge at short range. Although often forgotten today, the No68 Grenade as this new weapon was called, was a major technological leap forward when it was introduced, even if two years later it had been superseded by technology. The manual instructed troops:
The No 68 A.Tk Grenade has been introduced with the object of damaging hostile AFVs. It is fired from the discharger fitted to the service rifle, a 30-grain ballistite cartridge being used.
The grenade itself consists of a small die cast cylinder, with four stabilising finsAnd a circular iron plate on the end to allow it to work with the cup discharger:As can be seen this example is painted white, indicating it is a drill grenade. This is also indicated by the large holes bored into the head of the weapon to show it is free from explosives:This example is solid inside to allow troops to practice firing it safely, the live examples used a shaped HEAT projectile, as illustrated in this contemporary diagram:The round had to hit the target at an angle of +/- 15 degrees and had a range of about 50 yards so the user had to be exceptionally brave to use it! The manual instructs:
It must be realised that the ballistite cartridge used in conjunction with the grenade gives a considerable recoil; and, owing to the flat angle at which the rifle must be held it is essential to place the butt of the rifle against a sand bag or similar object…
Considerable initiative must be displayed in preparing positions from which to fire the grenade. These may be from behind low cover, from trenches or from the loopholes of pill-boxes. Returning to my example, it can be seen that there is a split pin and pull ring on the grenade fin:This again mirrors the live example where these were used as a safety pin to prevent premature detonation. The fins themselves have the grenade type cast into them:And the date of manufacture, 1942:Although it is hard to make out there is a small cast ‘PDC’ on the base of the fins:This stands for ‘Patent Diecasting Co’ who were one of the companies who manufactured the grenade bodies. The grenade eventually reached a Mk VI version and was removed form service by 1945, although by that point it was really only the Home Guard who made use of them. About 8 million of these grenades were made in various types, the training ones are uncommon but still around as they were used by the Home Guard and not always returned to stores!