Grenades, Who invented them?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Croque_Monsieur, Jun 20, 2008.

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  1. Who designed the first true grenade and when did it appear? I do not count hand thrown bombs with hand lit fuse, I mean proper fragmentation grenade with internal mechanical/chemical fuse and safety mechanism.

    I remember some old technicolour film with fine moustachioed Erol Flynn type swaggering about 18th/19th century India chucking grenades about claiming to be the inventor (a black ball with a wooden peg to push in to prime). Got me thinking how old the concept is.....
  2. A grenade is small explosive, chemical, or gas bomb. It is used at short range, thrown by hand or launched with a grenade launcher. The word grenade comes from the French word for pomegranate, early grenades looked like pomegranates.

    Grenades first came into use around the 15th century and the first inventor cannot be named. The first grenades were hollow iron balls filled with gunpowder and ignited by a slow burning wick.

    By the 19th century, grenades were no longer used. They were first used extensively again during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). The hand grenades of World War One can be described as empty cans filled with gunpowder and stones, with a primitive fuse. The Australians used the tin cans from jam and their early grenades were nicknamed "Jam Bombs." The first safe (for the person throwing it) grenade was the Mills bomb, invented by Englishmen, William Mills in 1915. Two other important grenade designs that emerged from the first war are the French pineapple grenade and the German stick grenade.

    google rocks :)
  3. As above,

    The first "proper" grenade was the Mills bomb, invented by Englishmen, William Mills in 1915.
  4. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Was it not the Grenadier Guards? They seem to claim everything else, and there has to be a reason for them. Probably.
  5. Invented by a Scotsman - my great uncle - and patented by the thieving English pigdog Mills.
  6. They are so called for fighting off the french grenadiers at waterloo
  7. Correction, for the light companies of the First Regiment of Foot Guards defeating the Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guards.
  8. But your not bitter........... :wink:
  9. Thanks folks, I could have used t'interweb but it's more enjoyable to have a discussion. Interesting to see that the "safe" grenade is only relatively recent.

    I dismembered a pomegranate last night, had thoughts of putting a small charge of black powder in it with a bit of slow match to accelerate things..... probably deadly to small furry animals.
  10. 16th c at least, according to this:

  11. I have heard many suggestions about grenades. The first "true" grenade like what we see today was very correctly stated above the mills bomb. However the thrown explosive device is much older and like many other things is accredited to the ancient Chinese who were apparently the first to experiment with black powder (also inventing the firework as a weapon) they used iron or ceramic balls filled with gunpowder and scrap metal (the equivelant of a modern frag) the Mongolians also had a similar device. the Americans also mimiced this concept in their civil war leading to the Ketchum grenade which is essentially the same as the ancient Chinese version with a slighlty advanced fuse (still lit).

    I have also read somewhere that the Spanish were using grenades in the 15th century (although that could be petrol bombs I am thinking of).
  12. Arguably the first "modern" hand grenades were those used by the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05. These were "reverse engineered" by the British, to create the No 1 Percussion Grenade (around 1908). A "stick" type grenade, the No 1 was intended for use by specialists possibly Sappers. In fact they went on general issue in 1914-1915 and were not well liked or considered an act of war! Alternative percussion grenades were developed in the immediate pre-war years and entered service in 1915. Something like 5000 grenades a week were produced initially (the No 2(!)) rising to 20000. By the battle of Loos, there were a dozen different models in service and no training or indeed operational concept behind them.

    The effectiveness of the German grenades during close-quarter encounters at Loos made the powers that be sit up and take notice. The director of Fortifications and Works, Colonel Louis Jackson, was given the remit of developing grenades and trench mortars. He ultimately became Controller of Trench Warfare Research - the existence of which post I find satisfactorily gives two fingers of scorn to "lions lead by donkeys" apologists - an honorary Major General and a KBE.

    Mills not only got the benefit of his patents, his manufacturing companies (tens of millions of hand grenades built) and a knighthood. He also received £27750 from a Royal Commission to reward his contribution to winning the war. In today money that would be the equivalent of about £8 million (using GDP comparators).

    If you are really keen to get into this try reading Anthony Saunders "Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918" - if you can get hold of it! Neither Rickshaw Major nor I are prepared to lend our copies!!
  13. You're making me cry! It wasn't my great uncle it was the generation before him... anyway he was a porridge wog and deserved to be ripped off. He'd probably have buried the money rather than share it with his family.

    There are good accounts of fused Grenados in Balbi's book on the Siege of Malta 1565, as well as "trumps" - medieval flame-throwers.
  14. Was it not a biblical weapon? The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch rings abell for some reason.

    Other than that I am going with the initial conception being Chinese using pottery filled with black powder, and then the grenades that we know today being first used in the Crimea and Napoleoic wars.

    I think they were used at Killiekranky too. These were more of the cartoon stzle cannon balls with fuese sticking out of though.

    The internal fuse was early 1910s i thinks. Particularly WW1.

    Grenade is French for Pomegranite too.