WW1 clearing dugouts with Fumite Bombs

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by ugly, Feb 15, 2012.

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  1. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Just been reading a fairly interesting book on a deceased soldier from 3rd Worcesters in 1916. One of the accounts written up describes fumite bombs as a smoke and flame generating bomb made of white phos, wax and petrol, sounds interesting so I fumite bombs - Google Search.
    Interestingly the Fumite bomb - Great War Forum were adamant they were smoke only and can still be bought. I suspect the ones on sale to the public were basically mole fumigators/insect killers and I think I will have to get some and see how they work.
    I think as well that I will have to make one but what I wonder can I use instead of WP, Magnesium powder perhaps?

    The reason I think that the military issue recipe was designed to burn is based on the officers diary quoted in the book where the fumite bombs ruin the German dugouts by burning the timbers and collapsing them and also the smoke plume gives an aiming marker for the Huns Gunners.
    The Book is Bringing Uncle Albert Home by David P Whithorn.
  2. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Oh dear I have found Octavius Hunt

    More info Source 4 | Transcript

    Also here, 'Chronic', from Wildfire by Andrea Brady I found this;1916

    Britain's army introduced its first factory-built WP grenades in late 1916.

    Albright & Wilson produced phosphorous-filled shells, hand and rifle grenades such as Fumite and Threlfallite (filled with mixture of phosphorous and petrol), "Chinese tumblers" and "plum puddings", to be used in trench warfare.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

    cracking. thanks for the linky.
  4. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Pleasure is mine, wheras there have been lectures on WW1 grenades at the HBSA I havent seen any mention of early WP. This could be my lecture!!!!!
  5. Sory to hijack Ugly, thought it relevant to the topic and Bics specialist chosen subject etc.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

  7. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Lachrymonal gasses?

    Serious write ups there, pity I'm working for the next 6 days solid!
  8. Stephen Bull in "Trench Warfare" mentions the british using phospherous grenades

    There is a picture of the No 27 Smoke Grenade on this page The WW1 UK Grenade Gallery

    This appears to have been introduced at the end of 1916 and could be fired as a rifle grenade. After this time the British stop playing with silly flame projectors. The Imperial War Musuem have opne in their collection Grenade, hand and rifle, No 27 Mk 1 WP | Imperial War Museums
  9. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I have seen that grenade in a lecture I think, it seems also that the fumite bomb makers werent as thought;
    Dear Ugly
    Thank you for your email

    Unfortunately we have no information here about the Fumite Bombs.

    Originally the Fumite brand was developed by Pains Wessex in Salisbury,
    now Chemring Countermeasures Ltd. Their contact details are below, and
    hopefully they can help you with your enquiry

    Chemring Countermeasures Ltd
    Very quick response and I'm pleased its not a dead end yet!
  10. Back to your original question about the fumite potency, this from the diary of Alexander Johnston CO 10th Batallion Cheshire Regiment

    On the left however we had better luck; got into the German front line where we actually killed 35 and counted them, apart from 9 dugouts which were full of Bosches who refused to come out, and who therefore had to be bombed and burnt alive with fumite bombs

    PTE 15004 HENRY JONES CHESHIRE REGT - Great War Forum
  11. And

    19th cen.

    WP is believed to have been first used by Fenian arsonists in the form of a solution of WP in carbon disulfide. This mixture was known as "Fenian fire" and allegedly was also used by I.W.W. activists in the early 20th century.


    Along the 28 km front at Loos on 25 Sept. 1915, the British fired 5,500 gas taks containing 150 tons of chlorine, 1,100 smoke pots, 25,000 white phosphorus hand grenades, and 10,000 high explosive mines from Stokes mortars.


    Britain's army introduced its first factory-built WP grenades in late 1916.

    Albright & Wilson produced phosphorous-filled shells, hand and rifle grenades such as Fumite and Threlfallite (filled with mixture of phosphorous and petrol), "Chinese tumblers" and "plum puddings", to be used in trench warfare.

    The Flying Corps were armed with wind-direction indicators ("candles"), "toffee" bombs (a mixture of white and "plastic", i.e. not fully converted amorphous phosphorous) against zeppelins and kite balloons.

    Albright & Wilson added mustard gas and phosgene production to their war jobs.


    In World War II, white phosphorus mortar bombs, shells, rockets and grenades were used extensively by American, Commonwealth, and to a lesser extent Japanese forces, as well, in both smoke-generating and antipersonnel roles. At the start of the Normandy campaign, 20% of American 81mm mortar rounds were WP. At least five American Medal of Honor citations mention their recipients using white phosphorus grenades to clear enemy positions. In the 1944 liberation of Cherbourg alone, a single U.S. mortar battalion, the 87th, fired 11,899 white phosphorus rounds into the city.

    In 1940, when the invasion of Britain seemed imminent, the phosphorus firm of Albright and Wilson suggested that the British government use a material similar to Fenian fire in several expedient incendiary weapons. The only one fielded was the Grenade, No. 76 or Special Incendiary Phosphorus grenade, which consisted of a glass bottle filled with a mixture similar to Fenian fire, plus some latex (c.f. Molotov cocktail, Greek fire). It came in two versions, one with a red cap intended to be thrown by hand, and a slightly stronger bottle with a green cap, intended to be launched from the Northover projector (a crude 2.5 inch blackpowder grenade launcher). Instructions on each crate of SIP grenades included the observations, inter alia:

    •Store bombs (preferably in cases) in cool places, under water if possible.
    •Stringent precautions must be taken to avoid cracking bombs during handling.

    It was generally regarded as overly dangerous to its own operators.

    The use of soaps to thicken and stabilise naphtha also led to the formulation of napalm in the 1940s.

    From 'Chronic', from Wildfire by Andrea Brady