Grenade No. 69 (offensive) Mills Bomb No.36 (defensive)
The number 69 grenade was developed during the war in 1940. Troops needed the ability to throw a grenade at the enemy while advancing without potentially killing or injuring themselves in the process. The No. 69 effect was basically in modern terms, a flash bang effect. Effective killing radius averaged only 10 feet from point of detonation.
The body is made from Bakelite. The bursting charge was typically Amatol and when fully weighs approximately 13.5 oz.
When ready to be thrown, the soldier unscrews the top cap exposing the “always fuse” officially designated as number 247. During flight, the lead tip assists in pulling the canvas tape away thereby dislodging the pin. When the grenade strikes the ground, a weighted ball overcomes the weak pressure of an internal spring instantly igniting the main charge.
Cut away view of the filled grenade
The No.36 Mills Bomb
Originally developed during World War One the basic construction of the bomb changed very little during its WW2 production run. Some changes had occurred in spoon construction to facilitate faster production as well as other minor details. The destructive radius from point of explosion was planned for 20 yards. This was in keeping with the standard cricket ball bowl of 22 yards and therefore all good English boys would be naturally acclimated to judging that distance. Due to the large circle of destruction this was considered primarily a defensive grenade where the user should seek cover after throwing so as not to injure himself.
The original bombs in our collection represent two different wartime manufacturers. There are very slight differences in details. Both have been initially painted with a thin shellac to inhibit rusting as were the originals. The crudely painted green bands indicate with red X’s indicate the grenade is filled with Baratol. We have seen examples of different paint band placement and have therefore chosen to represent different styles here.
The fuse, shown at left consists of a wick and what amounts to a .22 caliber percussion cap. When struck, the cap ignites the fuse which burns, the gasses being expelled through the holes drilled in the casting body. The cap, pictured upper left, is screwed in place after inserting the fuse. A standard Mills bomb transport box held 12 grenades and was shipped with two different timed fuses in red painted tins stenciled in yellow on the lid. A 4 second fuse was appropriate for hand throwing. A 7 second fuse was provided in anticipation of the prolonged time of flight when launched from a rifle cup discharger. Photographic evidence would indicate that by the Normandy campaign, cup dischargers were no longer in use by the Dragoons, the two-inch mortar was their replacement.