RARE British WW1 No23MKII Mills Grenade Base, threads are in perfect working order. 


INERT -  F.F.E (Free From Explosives)

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William Mills, a hand grenade designer from Sunderland, patented, developed and manufactured the "Mills bomb" at the Mills Munitions Factory in Birmingham, England, in 1915. The Mills bomb was inspired by an earlier design by Belgian captain Leon Roland, who later engaged in a patent lawsuit. Col. Arthur Morrow, a New Zealand Wars officer, also believed aspects of his patent were incorporated into the Mills Bomb. The Mills bomb was adopted by the British Army as its standard hand grenade in 1915 as the No. 5



The Mills bomb underwent numerous modifications. The No. 23 was a No. 5 with a rodded base plug which allowed it to be fired from a rifle. This concept evolved further with the No. 36, a variant with a detachable base plate for use with a rifle discharger cup. The final variation of the Mills bomb, the No. 36M, was specially designed and waterproofed with shellac for use in the hot climate of Mesopotamia in 1917 at first but remained in production for many years.[4] By 1918 the No. 5 and No. 23 had been declared obsolete and the No. 36 (but not the 36M) followed in 1932.

The Mills was a classic design; a grooved cast iron "pineapple" with a central striker held by a close hand lever and secured with a pin. According to Mills's notes, the casing was grooved to make it easier to grip, not as an aid to fragmentation and it has been shown that it does not shatter along the segmented lines. The Mills was a defensive grenade meant to be thrown from behind cover at a target in the open, wounding with fragmentation, as opposed to an offensive grenade, which does not fragment, relying on short-range blast effect to wound or stun the victim without endangering the thrower with fragments, which travel a much longer distance than blast. Despite the designations and their traits, "defensive" grenades were frequently used offensively and vice versa. A competent thrower could manage 49 ft (15 m) with reasonable accuracy, but the grenade could throw lethal fragments farther than this. The British Home Guard were instructed that the throwing range of the No. 36 was about 30 yd (27 m) with a danger area of about 100 yd (91 m).


At first the grenade was fitted with a seven-second fuse but in the Battle of France in 1940 this delay proved to be too long, giving defenders time to escape the explosion, or even to throw the grenade back. Therefore, the delay was reduced to four seconds. In either case, Hollywood images of a soldier pulling the pin with his teeth are incorrect. The force needed would damage the teeth before it would arm the mechanism.


The heavy segmented bodies of "pineapple" type grenades result in an unpredictable pattern of fragmentation. After the Second World War, Britain adopted grenades that contained segmented coiled wire in smooth metal casings. The No. 36M Mk.I remained the standard grenade of the British Armed Forces and was manufactured in the UK until 1972, when it was replaced by the L2 series. The 36M remained in service in some parts of the world such as India and Pakistan, where it was manufactured until the early 1980s. Mills bombs were still being used in combat as recently as 2004, for example in the incident which killed US Marine Jason Dunham and wounded two of his comrades.



  • The No. 5 Mk 1 was the first version. The explosive was filled through a small circular plug on the upper half, the detonator assembly was inserted into the centre tube through the bottom of the grenade body via the base plug, the striker and spring was held in tension through the middle by the lever that was held down on the lugs (ears) located on the top of the grenade body via a split pin and ring called the safety pin/pull ring. It was issued in May 1915 and entered general issue when mass production caught up a year later in 1916.
  • The No. 23 Mk 1, the hand/rifle-grenade had a base plug drilled with a threaded hole for a rifle launching rod. The No. 23 Mk II had a new-style iron base plug that was easier to tighten with the fingers without the need for a spanner. The No. 23 Mk III was a new-style body with a larger filler hole plug and more solid -lever lugs/ears but retaining the Mk II style plug.
  • The No. 36 Mk. 1 was first introduced in May 1918. It used the No. 23 Mk III body with a new-style plug. Mostly made of iron, it was drilled and threaded for attaching a metal disk called a gas check to fire the grenade from a cup discharger (Burns) mounted on a rifle's muzzle and launched using a balastite blank cartridge.
  • The shellac-coated "Mesopotamian" variant (No. 36M Mk I) was designed to keep moisture and humidity out of the detonator's fuse. The No. 36M Mk I was the British army's standard hand-grenade from the 1930s to 1972

RARE British WW1 No23MKII Mills Grenade Base