herald

Saturday 21 July 2018

'Jam tin' bombs lethal decades on

GRENADES found in the North Strand include home-made bombs and Mills bombs -- the most widely used grenade of the 20th century.

One grenade looks like the "jam tin" bombs used in the first year of trench warfare in World War One by British troops before the Mills bomb became widely available.

It is almost certainly home-made and has two .303 rifle bullets stuck to its base, the bullet tips green after spending decades in the ground. The bullets were probably stored with the grenade and not intended to be part of it.

For a time, the British Army issued a "jam tin" grenade called the No 8 or No 9 grenade filled with shrapnel balls and three ounces of Ammonal explosive before they were replaced by the Mills grenade, which only went out of service in the 1970s.

It is highly unlikely the rebels fighting in 1916 had any Mills bombs but may have used home-made grenades like the one in the picture, which could still be lethal even after all these years.

Also found was a tin full of badly degraded Mills grenades, which probably date from the War of Independence.

The Mills grenade was in use with the Irish and British armies well into the 1970s, with its final version, the No 36 Grenade, used by Irish troops in the Congo.

More than 75 million were made in World War One alone and captured Mills bombs were used by IRA units during the 1919--21 period. The Mills was simple, rugged and effective and was in use in the Pakistani Army until recently.

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