No. 5 'Mills bomb' Grenade
Contributor: Alan ChanterThe British army introduced the Grenade, Hand, No. 1 into service in June 1908. This was a stick type grenade not unlike the German "potato masher" but rather slimmer and with a longer throwing handle. It is not known whether these were much used during the mobile warfare in 1914 and had been generally replaced by the Grenade, Hand, No. 5 from May 1915.
The Grenade, Hand, No. 5 was designed by a Mr. W. Mills of Birmingham and thus would become more commonly known as the "Mills bomb". The Mills bomb was very much a defensive grenade (the lethal zone being greater than the distance it could be thrown), and thus the thrower needed to take shelter after throwing it. They were filled with baratol as the explosive, and the detonation mechanism was set at a 7-second delay (later reduced to 4 seconds). To achieve greater range a modified version (Grenade, Hand and Rifle, No. 23) was produced from 1916. This model was a standard Mills bomb adapted to take a 5½-rifle rod so that it could be fired from the issue Lee Enfield Rifle. Later still an improved Rifle grenade (Grenade, Hand and Rifle, No. 36) was introduced fitted with a 2½-inch diameter base-plate so that it could be fired by a cup-dispenser method.
The Mills bomb would be the British army's favoured hand thrown grenade throughout both world wars and would not be retired until the 1970s. In view of the need to counter armoured vehicles however, during the Second World War the Mills rifle grenade was considered ineffective and was quickly replaced by more advanced types such as the Grenade, Rifle, No. 68/AT.
Over 70,000,000 Mills bomb hand grenades were made.
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Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937