Original Imperial German WWI Message Carrying Shell for the 7.6cm Minenwerfer Trench Mortar

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This round is totally inert and deactivated following guidelines provided by the ATF. This example is offered in excellent condition with original markings, and has been stamped INERT. This mortar shell cannot be converted to an explosive devise and is not available for export.

Communications during armed conflicts have always been vastly important to the eventual outcome, and new ways of quickly sending messages have always been sought after. During WWI, there were some trench telephones, as well as many telegraphs, however these had the "downside" of requiring a wire to function, which could easily be damaged or cut.

Sending a message directly by a courier had it's own set of pros and cons, so various systems were invented, including what is termed a "message shell". These were mortar shells with a standard propellant charge on the bottom, with a hollow interior that could be loaded with messages. The shell would be fired, and then recovered and opened, with the message being read. A somewhat primitive way of "instant messaging" in the trench warfare days. We have not been able to find much information about how effective these were, but we would assume that the difficulty of aiming properly without hitting people was an issue.

This is a very nice Imperial German WWI "Message Shell", designed for the 7.6cm Minenwerfer Trench Mortar. It measures 10 1/2 tall and just under 3 inches wide, and has been repainted post war in OD green, probably when it was marked "INERT". The top has an original I.M.W.Zdr.2 fuse that is dated 1918 under a maker mark.

The top housing of the shell still unscrews, and inside is still the original message container, which has numerous holes in the outside. The top of the message container is threaded for the top cover, though unfortunately that is missing. We also are not sure if the fuze is the correct type to be used with a message shell, however it may have been a damaged fuze, which was put into service to seal the top.

A very interesting piece of WWI communications history, ready to add to your collection and display!

More on the 7.6cm Minenwerfer:

The 7.58 cm Minenwerfer a.A. (alter Art or old model) (7.58 cm leMW), was a German First World War mortar. Directly translated, the designation means "Mine Thrower", and there were several different sizes fielded during WWI.

The Russo-Japanese War of 1905 had shown the value of mortars against modern fieldworks and fortifications and the Germans were in the process of fielding a whole series of mortars before the beginning of World War I. Their term for them was Minenwerfer, literally mine-thrower; they were initially assigned to engineer units in their siege warfare role. By the Winter of 1916-17, they were transferred to infantry units where the leMW's light weight permitted them to accompany the foot-soldiers in the advance.

In common with Rheinmetall's other Minenwerfer designs, the leMW was a rifled muzzle-loader that had hydraulic cylinders on each side of the tube to absorb the recoil forces and spring recuperators to return the tube to the firing position. It had a rectangular firing platform with limited traverse and elevation. Wheels could be added to ease transportation or it could be carried by at least six men. In 1916, a new model, designated as the n.A. or neuer Art (new version), was fielded that included a circular firing platform, giving a turntable effect, which permitted a full 360 degree traverse. It also had a longer 16 inches (410 mm) barrel and could be used for direct fire between 0° and 27° elevation if the new 90 kg (200 lb) trail was fitted to absorb the recoil forces. In this mode it was pressed into service as an anti-tank gun.

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