Copyright 2006 T. Sheil & A. Sheil  All Rights Reserved

Milihistriot Quarterly

The Journal for Military Miniature Enthusiasts

Hand Grenades

If ever there was a [peculiar weapon, it is the hand grenade.  It started as a medieval hand bomb that could be thrown from castle walls. By the 17th Century, grenadier units had been formed.  They had their own drill for throwing grenades.  Early grenades were almost as much a hazard to the user as the target, so they dropped out of use on the battlefield.  A few continued to be made for siege work and defense. 

World War I saw a new hand grenade with built in fuse.  Improved versions have been in use ever since.

The technique is to throw the grenade as far as possible, and then duck.  Grenades throw shrapnel, often further than a man can throw the grenade.

Forget what you see in movies about men pulling out pins with their teeth.  That hurts! A soldier would have to loosen the pins beforehand if he wanted to avoid a tooth-ache.  The pin is pulled with  the finger. 

The big surprise is that grenades are thrown differently by different armies, at different times.  The style of throwing used by Allied forces in World War I was not the same as used by US troops by World War II. 


Grenadier technique from a 1730 manual.  Grenadiers had to keep a burning match to light grenade fuses


The toss.  The 18th Century grenade dropped out of use around 1740.



Kneeling pose, from USN manual.  Also note proper wearing of field gear in both USN photos..


Standing pose, USN manual



Standing pose from another angle, WW2 US Army photo.  This type of toss is still taught to American troops.


Older style of grenade throwing from World War I.  This method we learned from the French.



German stick grenades, prone and kneeling techniques. .


American World War I manual explains how to hold grenade. It was a translated copy of the French infantry manual. 



Here is illustrated the World War I style of grenade toss used by Allied armies.  U.S., French and British troops used it.  The same basic technique was used by French and British soldiers in World War II.  By then, America had adopted the techniques illustrated in the top photos of the previous section.







British method, found in a Russian manual, of all places. Almost identical to the French method.


Compare the French method with the 1991 US manual.


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