Original British WWI Inert No. 1 MkII Stick Hand Fragmentation Grenade with Intact Tails - Very Rare

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an excellent original inert example of an extremely hard to find British ordnance piece from WWI! The very attractive brass body and streamers really make this a flagship piece for any ordnance collection. It was only produced in small numbers for a short time, so examples in any condition are rare.

The grenade, hand No. 1 was the first British hand grenade used in World War I. It was designed in the Royal Laboratory, based on reports and samples of Japanese hand grenades during the Russo-Japanese War provided by General Sir Aylmer Haldane, who was a British observer of that war. The grenade proper is a container of explosive material with an iron fragmentation band. The fuse was of the impact sort, detonating when the top of the grenade hit the ground. A long cane handle (approximately 16 inches or 40 cm) allowed the user to throw the grenade further than the blast of the explosion. To ensure that the grenade hit the ground nose first, a cloth streamer was attached to the end of the handle. When thrown, this unfurled and acted as a tail to stabilize flight. The grenade came with a metal loop so it could hang from a belt.

This particular grenade is the MkII version of the No.1, which features a shorter handle, based on field reports that the long handle on the original was a liability. The brass components are in lovely condition, with great patina, and the fuse easily cycles through the "FIRE", "TRAVEL" and "REMOVE" positions. The cap also comes off easily, allowing some degree of internal inspection. The brass belt clip is still intact, and the grenade still has the original streamers attached, though they are a bit worn. There are some markings stamped into the wooden body of the handle, but we have not been able to decipher them, and are most likely assembly numbers.

Really a great example of this very attractive grenade, complete and ready to display!

The No.1 Grenade in the Field:

When the battlefield became confined to the trenches, the long handle became a liability, causing several accidents. Reaching back for the throw, the fuse could strike the trench side. The No. 3, a variant of the No. 1, had a shorter handle for easier use in trenches. Even with these adjustments, the No. 1 and its variants did poorly in battle. According to German prisoners captured at Ypres in January 1916, the No. 1 could be deflected by wooden boards. In some cases, the deflected grenade could be thrown back.

Manufacturing the No. 1 was difficult, as it required a special detonator that could only be produced by the ordnance factories. Because of this, the British Expeditionary Force got far fewer No. 1s than were ordered. A version that used a more common detonator, the No. 18, was designed, but by then battlefield experience had shown that the No. 1's design was ineffective.

The difficulty of operating it in trenches plus the special detonator caused Britain to create several stopgap grenades, such as the jam tin grenade, until the Mills bomb was adopted.


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