WEAPONS OF WAR: Improvised & Emergency Grenades

Across 1914-1915, the British Army was experiencing a severe shortage in hand grenades, forcing soldiers to improvise substitute devices. Rob Langham profiles ‘Tickler’s Artillery’ and other emergency grenades

A SHORTENED NO.1 GRENADE WITH STREAMERS AND IRON FRAGMENTATION RING
COURTESY YORK MUSEUMS TRUST

At the start of the Great War, hand grenades made up a tiny part of the British arsenal. Belief that the infantry would focus on long-range fighting, where rapid, accurate small arms fire would be the critical factor, meant grenades remained a relative novelty.

Such devices had been used for more than a century, but fell out of favour due to primitive fuses, as well as their weight and unpredictability. Grenades had only returned to the fore owing to trench fighting in the 190405 Siege of Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese War. Reports from a British observer, brevet Lieutenant-Colonel (later General) Aylmer Haldane, led to the development of the Royal Laboratories No.1 grenade in 1908.

Want to read more?

This is a premium article and requires an active subscription.

Existing subscriber? Sign in now

No subscription?

Pick one of our introductory offers