No 1 Grenade

No 1 Grenade

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No 1 Grenade

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The Grenade, Hand No 1 was the first British hand grenade used in World War I.

Overview

The Grenade No 1 was designed in the Royal Laboratory and is based on reports of Japanese hand grenades during the Russo-Japanese War by General Sir G.L. Haldane, who was a British observer of the Russo-Japanese War and a few samples of Japanese grenades brought back by Sir Haldane. Saunders, Weapons of the Trench War, p.2.

The grenade proper is a can 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) 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.

When the battlefield became confined to the trenches, the long handle became a liability - several accidents occurred when reaching back for the throw, the fuse struck the trench side. Saunders, Weapons of the Trench War, p.3. The no. 3, a variant of the No 1 with a shorter handle, was made to make it easier to throw in a trench.

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...
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