Bomb boy duck

6th February 1915

While Gleichen inspected his transport on this rainy Saturday, the brigade continued to learn the art of “bombing”.

A new grenade became available to the British troops in February 1915; the No. 2 grenade. This was a variant on the much disliked No. 1 grenade, originally designed for the export market but hurriedly pressed into service. It consisted of a stick, like the German potato masher, with an explosive charge on the end, but it looked like it had been put together by a schoolboy in ICT. The new No. 2 version had a shorter handle which was designed to prevent it catching against the lips of trenches but it still didn’t get away from the reality that the design was too cumbersome and too obvious to the enemy to be used as an assault weapon. It had cloth streamers on it which gave its trajectory away for a start. No wonder men on the ground were making their own bombs out of jam pots. The grenade was later adopted by the RFC to be used as a hand-dropped bomb by simply adding a frayed rope to the end.

Unfortunately the 15th Brigade’s diary also allows us to see how close the civilian world was to the army. Perhaps too close. A boy, standing “60 yards behind grenade throwers” is injured in the forearm from a bomb fragment. Quite what he was doing anywhere near grenade throwers is another question. Boys will be boys I suppose.