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Lancashire Fusilier

WW1 Grenades both British and Enemy.

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Lancashire Fusilier

It has been variously known on the forum as a pin puller or bombers hook.

That what makes this Forum so enjoyable, always lots to learn.

Thanks for the good information and photograph both of the ' Bomber's Hook ' ( something to look out for ) and your Mills Bomb.

As mentioned in my post # 1, when you consider that just how many of these Mills Bombs were thrown during a battle, the hook may have come in handy. At Pozieres Heights on the night of July 26 - 27, 1916, over 15,000 Mills Bombs were thrown at the Germans!

Regards,

LF

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auchonvillerssomme

I've had that particular hook for a while, but there are very good, perfect, copies out there. Grenades are so tactile, and, to my mind, industrial works of art.

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auchonvillerssomme

Talking about always lots to learn, the tunic behind the grenade is an RA officers example, I put it on a manikin 15 years ago and apart from a light dusting of the shoulders during 2 house moves I haven't really looked at it, then placing the grenade on the desk for the photo I notice he has a wound stripe!

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Lancashire Fusilier

A Mills Bomb/Grenade training session in the trenches, showing the storage/carrying boxes in use.

LF

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Dave1418

LF, this looks more like troop, ''bombing up'' in a communications or rear trench prior to going into the front line trenches. Grenade practice/training even during the war was much more structured than the photo appears. Dave

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Lancashire Fusilier

LF, this looks more like troop, ''bombing up'' in a communications or rear trench prior to going into the front line trenches. Grenade practice/training even during the war was much more structured than the photo appears. Dave

Dave,

I am sure you are correct, based on their uniforms and the general apperance of the men, they look to be ' at the Front '.

Based on the position of the photographer standing on the top of the trench, it had to be ' training ' or at the rear.

' bombing up ' before moving up to the front line makes much more sense.

Regards,

LF

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Lancashire Fusilier

All V.C. recipients engage in acts of extreme heroism and bravery, and one particular V.C. recipient, Lance-Corporal Leonard James Keyworth, caught my attention in connection with this Thread, as it could certainly be described as " A Bomber's V.C. ". The Mills Bomb was introduced in May, 1915, and Lance-Corporal Keyworth's heroism took place on the night of May 25/26, 1915.

Having fought his way to a German trench, he then stood alone on the parapet of that trench, and for some 2 hours hurled an estimated 150 bombs into that trench system allowing for it's capture.

Whilst none of the reports specify that his bombs were Mills Bombs, they could well have been, making this possibly the first Mills Bomb related V.C. award of WW1.

" Leonard James Keyworth was born on 12th August, 1893 in Lincoln, Lincolnshire. He was an only son, and was educated at the Lincoln Technical School. A good all-round athlete, he was intensely fond of cricket.

On the last occasion that Keyworth went out to play cricket before enlisting, he said to his mother, "We shall win." She told him not to be so sure, but he replied laughingly, "I always play to win." Even in the trenches Keyworth was fond of talking about cricket, and never 'bowled' better than on the night of May 25—26 at Givenchy, when his aim was deadly for the Germans.

After leaving school, he went into his father's tailoring business, but it was never to his liking. Later he became a clerk in the offices of Messrs Burton, Scorers & White, solicitors of Lincoln, where he was employed when war broke out.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in August 1914, Leonard Keyworth attempted to volunteer for service with the Lincolnshire Regiment but was not accepted. So, on the 16th September 1914, with a friend he travelled to London and at age 21 joined the 1 / 24th ( County of London ) Bn, the London Regiment ( The Queen's ). Following initial training Keyworth joined the battalion in November where it was billeted in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

With the 6th Brigade, 2nd ( London ) Division, the 24th Battalion went to France on 16th March 1915, the second complete Territorial division to arrive there. Billeted near Bethune, the Queen's first went into the front line on 25th April 1915 in the Rue de l'Epinette sector, north of Fesubert. In its first engagement at Aubers Ridge on 9th May the battalion suffered over 100 casualties.

The 'Queen's' had previously been in action, but it was not until toward the end of May that they firmly established their reputation as fearless fighters and a credit to the Army. Previously, to use Keyworth's own words, "I and my chums had already been 'blooded' before we were engaged at Givenchy. I mean we knew what it is to be under fire, for we had previously been in the neighbourhood of Festubert in a pretty tight corner."

It was at Givenchy that the 24th made their spirited charge, one so magnificent that Lieut.-Colonel Simpson afterward said: "Men of the 24th, after what you did on Tuesday you can do anything; I am proud of you."

After a hot engagement round about Richbourg, the men of Keyworth's battalion had a spell of rest in billets. Then the order came to pack up, and soon they went swinging along to the trenches. By 6:30 that same evening two companies of the 'Queen's' were charging the enemy's lines.

At 17:30 hours on 25th May 1915 the 24th Bn took over trenches just north of Givenchy in readiness for an attack later that evening. After a supporting artillery bombardment, the attack began at 18:30 advancing on a stretch of the enemy line known as the 'S' Bend, the leading companies reaching its objective with few casualties. The supporting companies followed and within thirty minutes all were in the German front line but were unable to advance further as the enemy was holding the slightly higher ground to the south and from there were able to inflict heavy rifle fire on the attacking troops.

In front of the 'Queen's' position there was a critical hill to be captured; from its summit and behind the Germans were pouring a deadly stream of machine-gun fire. To charge the position meant traversing the open, and the attack had to be made without any support from our artillery. Yet it had to be done, and the men went at it in fine style. Accompanying them, carrying bombs, was the 9th platoon, of whom Keyworth was one. Keyworth and his platoon went to the left of the hill, the bayonet men to the right. The British attack had been successful, and it was now necessary to prevent the Germans counter-attacking. Crawling up the slope the former came under a terrific enfilading fire, from which only Keyworth escaped.

He said afterward that he had no clear recollection of what he now did. "Things were so hot, so terrible, so dreadful, that we had no time to think coherently."

However, he realized that it was neck or nothing. It was up to him to throw as many bombs, and do all the damage he could in order to save the rest of the battalion.

He had crawled up the ridge on his stomach, and was only a few yards away from the Germans. He had a plentiful supply of bombs, and was kept supplied by the men from behind. Standing up he took careful aim and hurled the first bomb at the Germans.

Then he dropped prone to prepare another missile. Rising again, he threw the second, and dropped once more. For two hours he went on doing this, coolly and systematically. He was fully exposed to the enemy's fire each time that he stood erect on the top of their parapet. The night was dark, but his figure was silhouetted against the sky. "I did not realize that I was fully exposed," he said, "but I was conscious all the while that I was being continually sniped at." He threw from first to last that night about 150 bombs. Every time he took the utmost pains to judge the distance.

His aim was so deadly that at one o'clock in the morning the Germans stopped throwing their bombs.

Keyworth by his great skill and bravery had won single-handed a victory as telling as if he had commanded hundreds of men. He made a counter-attack impossible and so prevented the Germans retaking the positions wrested from them in another part of the line. How many of the enemy he actually accounted for will never be known.

Of all the V.C. heroes Keyworth surely had the most miraculous escape. He was fully exposed to the enemy's fire for two hours, yet came through practically unscathed, although his comrades who set out with him were all killed or wounded.

"Men were shot down by my side," he said. "Still I continued, and came out safe. I only did my duty, but how I came out God only knows."

Once a piece of shell brushed his ear, blinding him with dirt. Later a bullet hit the metal case of a little mirror he carried in his pocket.

It speaks well for the bravery of the battalion that his companions, knowing he was out on the exposed parapet, gallantly endeavoured again and again to bring sandbags up to him to serve as a protection, but every hero who tried it was either killed or wounded.

The Battalion War Diary records '18:45 - 21:00 captured trench being consolidated. A severe bomb fight taking place all the time on the right flank'. Keyworth described how half his section were shot down by enemy machine-gun fire before reaching the German line and how all the bombers had been killed except him. When his supply of bombs was exhausted, Keyworth was supplied with more by men behind him who continually implored him to lie down. For about two hours Keyworth remained on a parapet throwing some 150 bombs and although blinded with dirt he survived unscathed. The captured trench was held throughout the night and the whole of the next day, despite being under shell and rifle fire for much of the time until the battalion was relieved.

The Battalion War Diary states: "the most noticeable feature of the operation was the retention of the captured trench by a few exhausted, and in many cases wounded, men, after it had been subjected to a very heavy enfilade rifle fire'. Keyworth was recommended for the DCM for his actions by his company commander Captain Armstrong, but was actually awarded the Victoria Cross, as published in the London Gazette on 3rd July 1915. The first Keyworth knew of his VC was when he read a newspaper containing the citation on 4th July.

When he returned home Keyworth received well-deserved praise, and honours were heaped upon him. His native town of Lincoln rose to the occasion, and showed in no uncertain fashion its pride in the hero who had so honoured it.

At a great demonstration at the Corn Exchange Keyworth was presented with an illuminated address and a purse of gold. The citizens gave him a rousing welcome, and he gave them his views on the needs of our Army in a few words brief and to the point. "It is men, thoroughly equipped in every respect, that is the greatest need just now, and let us have plenty of them. With the men we want more munitions."

While on leave during the summer of 1915 Keyworth spent many days in obtaining recruits. He was thoroughly alive to the need of arousing young men to join the colours, and after a happy and useful period of furlough returned to the front to do further service for his beloved country.

At the end of September 1915 the Queen's again went into the front line during the Battle of Loos and held trenches between Loos and Lens for three days. In early October the battalion was involved in operations to capture Hulluch and on 15th October a member of 5th Field Ambulance recorded in his diary "steady stream of wounded, among whom is Lance Corporal Keyworth VC - hit in the head". Keyworth was moved to hospital at Abbeville and died on 19th October 1915 without regaining consciousness. He is buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery.

Lieutenant-Colonel J. Eustace Jameson, writing to Mrs. Keyworth on the death of her heroic son, paid him the following tribute:

"Your son, our comrade, was one of the highest examples of unselfishness and devotion to his comrades and to duty. His name will be enrolled among the bravest of the brave. After he had won the V.C. his one desire was to return to the front to help his comrades. Surely such a splendid and heroic death will help us to get recruits for the battalion of which he was an honoured member."

Lance-Corporal Leonard James Keyworth, 24th (County of London) Battalion the London Regiment, popularly known as the 'Queen's,' was the third London Territorial to win the V.C., and the first so distinguished to die in action.

After his untimely death by a sniper's bullet on 19th October 1915, Keyworth's Victoria Cross passed to his sister Lilly who retained possession of the Cross until she died in late 1962. In March 1963 a well known and respected medal collector purchased the Keyworth Victoria Cross and other campaign medals from the estate of Lilly Perkins ( née Keyworth ) for £460 and in whose possession the VC remained until March 2005, when they were donated to the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment Museum based at Clandon House, Guildford, Surrey.

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Lancashire Fusilier

Lance-Corporal Keyworth, V.C., with members of his regiment after his investiture.

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Lancashire Fusilier

Lance-Corporal Keyworth, V.C., his original grave with a wooden cross, and his final resting place.

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Lancashire Fusilier

Lance-Corporal Leonard James Keyworth, V.C., his Victoria Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and Russian Medal of St. George, which in 1963, sold for just 460 pounds, along with his Victoria Cross Citation.

London Gazette, 3 July 1915, Givenchy, France, 25 - 26 May 1915, Lance Corporal Leonard Keyworth, 24th ( County of London ) Bn, The London Regiment ( The Queen's ) T.F.

For most conspicuous bravery at Givenchy on the night of 25th - 26th May 1915. After the successful assault on the German position by the 24th Battalion, London Regiment, efforts were made by that Unit to follow up their success by a bomb-attack, during the progress of which 58 men out of a total of 75 became casualties. During this very fierce encounter Lance Corporal Keyworth stood fully exposed for two hours on the top of the enemy's parapet, and threw about 150 bombs amongst the Germans, who were only a few yards away.

Leonard Keyworth was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace, on the 12th July 1915.

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RobL

Whilst wartime artwork can't be trusted as a great source of accuracy (one showing steel helmets at Gallipoli comes to mind), these two appear to show the No 15 cricket ball bomb

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/National-War-Savings-V-C-Series-No-5-Lance-Corpl-L-J-Keyworth-see-big-pic-/330894527733?pt=UK_Stamps_Philatley&hash=item4d0ad9ccf5&nma=true&si=afrCiRP93rVBXCEVfg1QbH2HAFI%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

http://www.flickr.com/photos/44841559@N03/8595271060/in/pool-cigarettecards

Personally, with the timing of the VC and especially the large numbers used, i'd be more inclined to say a cricket ball or other of the period ie Battye

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Lancashire Fusilier

Whilst wartime artwork can't be trusted as a great source of accuracy (one showing steel helmets at Gallipoli comes to mind), these two appear to show the No 15 cricket ball bomb

Personally, with the timing of the VC and especially the large numbers used, i'd be more inclined to say a cricket ball or other of the period ie Battye

RobL,

Thanks for the artwork, and a ' cricket ball bomb ' would certainly be coincidental given his love of cricket, either way, an amazing feat for a 22 year old.

Regards,

LF

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AndrewBelsey
post-18209-0-64076700-1366284478_thumb.jpost-18209-0-44611900-1366284500_thumb.jpost-18209-0-54991300-1366284515_thumb.jI've taken some more photos of my grenade for you to see it close up. Notice the shield emblem, which is under the lever when it's on - manufacturer? I can see it was manufactured in January 1917 - my grandfather found it after being trained how to use them in Knowle Park in Kent in mid 1917. They didn't pull the pins and in not sure if it was ever filled with explosive? I have different memories of Grandfather's story to my uncle? Can you tell me whether the fuse has been fired?

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Lancashire Fusilier

APB,Again a wonderful complete example of the No.23 with it's rod for firing as a rifle grenade, and rare to still have the original fuse.The ' K ' mark on the base plug is the maker's mark for A. Kenrick and Sons of West Bromwich.Marten Hale designed a method of firing the grenade from the rifle, by screwing a steel rod into the base of the grenade, this was then inserted down the barrel of the rifle with the grenade/bomb body projecting beyond the rifle muzzle. A fired blank cartridge was used as the means of the grenade's propulsion.The first official British rifle grenade known as the ' J ' pattern, was introduced into service as the ' Grenade .303-inch, Rifle, No.3 Mk.I ' approved on 16th February, 1915.Its range was recorded as 100 yards fitted with a 10 inch rod, and and over 250 yards when fitted with a 15 inch rod.A problem with the original system, is that should the rifle muzzel be tipped below the horizontal plane, the grenade would fall out of the rifle muzzle.To deal with the problem, a spring fitted grenade cup was fitted to the rifle's nosecap ( photo attached ). As to your fuse being fired or not, I personally could not tell you. A small firing cap would have been placed into the cup at the base of the fuse.

Regards,

LF

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Dave1418

Hi LF, the reason for the bracket and later Burns cup discharge is that the fly off lever has to be retained close to the body once the pin has been pulled. The grenade can remain in this position until fired, once the grenade has left the cup and has started on its trajectory will the fly off lever become detached and set off the detonator.

Regards

Dave

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AndrewBelsey

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Thanks for the information on Granddad's grenade. Has the fuse been detonated?

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Lancashire Fusilier

Thanks for the information on Granddad's grenade. Has the fuse been detonated?

Originally, there would have been a Detonator attached to the top of the fuse, and a Firing Cap in the cup at the base of the fuse.

The whole fuse looks in remarkably good condition, as to it being used, hopefully someone will know how to tell, and give us the answer ?

Regards,

LF

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Lancashire Fusilier

Hi LF, the reason for the bracket and later Burns cup discharge is that the fly off lever has to be retained close to the body once the pin has been pulled. The grenade can remain in this position until fired, once the grenade has left the cup and has started on its trajectory will the fly off lever become detached and set off the detonator.

Regards

Dave

Dave,

Exactly..

However, prior to the introduction of the Grenade Cup, No.1 Mk.I., which as you say, retained the Striker Lever in place after the Safety Pin had be pulled, what was the firing procedure without the assistance of the Grenade Cup ?

From the attached photograph, which probably comes from a training manual, we can see the soldier with his rifle angled upwards to retain the rodded No.23 Mills Bomb/Grenade in the rifle barrel, and at some point, he must pull the safety pin from the grenade, and then immediately pull the trigger to fire the grenade, which probably had a 7 second time fuse ?

Or perhaps, another soldier pulled the firing pin and immediately ran for cover!

regards,

LF

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Chris Foster

LF, re your query of a photograph of a box in use in post 64. Photo shows a bombing party of 1st Scots Guards, battle of Loos Oct 1915 . ( IWM Q17390)

Chris

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Lancashire Fusilier

LF, re your query of a photograph of a box in use in post 64. Photo shows a bombing party of 1st Scots Guards, battle of Loos Oct 1915 . ( IWM Q17390)

Chris

Chris,

Thank you for the superb photograph, clearly showing the Mills bomb carrying/storage box and its contents in full detail, and in actual combat use.

The Company producing the reproduction box, seem to have done an excellent job with their box.

Many thanks for posting it.

Regards,

LF

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Lancashire Fusilier

A series of photographs taken at the ' Front ' during a recreational sports event organized by the Black Watch.

One of the photographs is captioned as being a ' rifle grenade firing contest '.

The other is a running race organized for local French children, and the third is of the ' Colonel of the Black Watch regiment '.

LF

2

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Chris Foster

Thanks LF, as a matter of interest I made one of the repro boxes in your posting. Slight error on the the white cleats for the rope handles, pointed out by Taff Gillingham, they should have been below the lid level with the box top and not the lid !

Gren-box-02.jpg

Gren-box-09.jpg

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Lancashire Fusilier

Thanks LF, as a matter of interest I made one of the repro boxes in your posting. Slight error on the the white cleats for the rope handles, pointed out by Taff Gillingham, they should have been below the lid level with the box top and not the lid !

Chris,

Very nice boxes, did you have a blue-print or photograph from which you made your boxes ?

Regards,

LF

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TonyE

Grenades are not really my area of interest, but labels are, so here are a couple of original box labels that you may find interesting.

Regards

TonyE

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