Weapons of World War One: Grenades

Grenades were used significantly throughout World War One. The German army was ahead of the other countries at the beginning of the war; they had 70,000 hand grenades in readiness and began producing many more throughout the war. The British army soon caught up however, after one year they were producing an average of 250,000 grenades per week.

Grenades were a very important weapon in the trenches. Soldiers would be grouped in teams, with grenade throwers and grenade carriers working together, with rifle armed men to defend them. As an attack reached an enemy trench the grenadiers would run down the trench throwing grenades into each dugout as they passed. These grenade based attacks could beveryeffective and were used more and more as the war went on.

There were two main types of grenades, grenades that were thrown, or grenades that were propelled by a rifle. Thrown grenades were preferred as the rifle grenades were often inaccurate.  All grenades were either detonated on impact or had a timed fuse.
Most soldiers preferred timed fuses to impact grenades. With grenades detonated by impact there was always the risk of them being detonated accidentally and causing damage to the user or their friendly trench. Pulling a pin from the grenade became the most common way to set off the timer of a fused grenade.

Niall Doonan
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Niall Doonan

Hi, my name is Niall. I've been fascinated by history since I was very young and I loved my history lessons at school. I know how important it is to make history accessible and interesting for all ages. I like to surround myself with ideas and learning. I studied English Literature at university and I've worked as an English teacher in Hong Kong. Reading, writing and running make me happy.