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  1. #1
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    A very early Mills grenade, one of the very first.

    DSCN0709.jpgDSCN0711.jpgDSCN0712.jpgDSCN0710.jpgDSCN0716.jpg
    I recently managed to buy this very early Mills grenade probably from the first batch of Mills grenades delivered to the BEF in France in 1915. The base plug is dated 5/15 and for me its the Holy Grail of Mills grenades. It looks like it may have been gilded and would have looked stunning when new, It has the small ringpull and the lever has the registered design number on the back indicating its a very early grenade indeed from the first batch of 46000[thanks Millsman].The gold covering is quite worn as is the base plug indicating it has had a great deal of handling in its time which to me indicates it might have been on tour with William Mills when he toured the country trying to get foundries all over the land to make his design, pure conjecture on my part but a nice idea. we will never know but for me its something i have been searching for ever since I have been collecting them and so pleased to have found it. Probably the most rare I have come across.


    Andy.
    Last edited by gothica7; 20th May 2019 at 04:11 PM.
    Ime the twat in the middle.

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  3. #2
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    It's a nice one Andy.

    I'll expand on Andy's use of the first 46,000.

    The first contract for 50,000 Mills Grenades (Not No. 5) was awarded on the 27th March 1915. Assuming Mills had to set up production and train people I think only about 4000 grenades were produced before the end of April. By this time the Army had told Mills they didn't like the Roland style base plug and the 'normal' flat plug was introduced in May 1915 (unless anyone has got a April flat plug - never seen one) with the No 5 Mk I added. So Andy's grenade, if the plug is original to it is probably one of the first 10,000 or so made by the end of May 1915. That first contract for 50,000 was completed in August 1915

    It's the first gilded grenade I've seen. So if it was never filled it may have been a present from Mills to one of his team in those first months. Conjecture of course but hopefully the plug is original to the grenade.
    William Mills - Thank you!

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  5. #3
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    Thanks for clearing that up about the Mills contracts John. I think that the plug is original to the grenade as according to Graham Currie from whom i bought it, he was contacted by the original seller last November who told him it was an inheritance and it had been in the family for a long time and was known to be rare. The deal was only done with Grahame in the last fortnight and I have a pretty shrewd idea what he paid for it and that why it was sold to me for a good price.It may have been given to one of Mills managers but to me its wear is consistent to a lot of handling, if any of my drill grens are anything to go by and there must have been a reason for that. Dont think we will ever know.Am really pleased to have acquired it.I didnt realise how rare it was if its one of the first 10.000, most of which would have been used up in training and aggressively, nearly as rare as my experimental 36 then?

    Andy
    Last edited by gothica7; 20th May 2019 at 08:10 PM.
    Ime the twat in the middle.

  6. #4
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    I have been thinking John, shouldn't do it I know but i wonder if the body has in fact been copper washed and not gilded? That may possibly account for the way the wear marks show due to handling. I have seen cast iron base plugs and rods withe stuff on them and it looks pretty similar. I would not be surprised that this is the case.


    Andy
    Ime the twat in the middle.

  7. #5
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    I think it's gilding Andy. Think a well worn Princess Mary tin. Gilding is a micron thick compared to paint. It also looks very gold rather than copper. Gold washed? Never heard of it.
    William Mills - Thank you!

  8. #6
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    it most certainly hasnt been covered in gold leaf and I have had an engineering pal of mine look at it and he thinks its a a copper wash but again we could all be wrong. You will have to have a good look next time you pass this way again.Might even let you handle it too.lol



    Andy
    Ime the twat in the middle.

  9. #7
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    Not sure about gilding. Never seen anything original in gold plate, tho' plenty chromed and mounted on a base etc, usually with a commemorative inscription ie one millionth round produced etc etc, and I do have a shell case silver plated, but this is marked Engadine, a trophy of the raid on Cuxhaven and used as a dinner gong after the war.
    Pic attached shows two No 5 grendes by Mills Munitions Co, and dated 6/15, and a 5 Mk 1 dd 11/15 by James Cycle Co, that has a finish rather similar to yours. But it appears to be a very hard lacquer rather than a plated metal or wash, and it shows exactly the same kind of wear and distress that yours does.
    Alan1.DSCN0496[1].jpg

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  11. #8
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    Those grenades are great. Thanks for showing and both the 6/15s will be very rare, do you have any pics of the plugs as I for one would love to see them having never seen a June 15 plug. I am more and more coming to the conclusion that mine has had a copper wash which shows up as gold when pictured. I am not sure what i will do to preserve it other than give it a beeswax polish, difficult for me being disabled.Look forward to seeing more of your pictures.


    Andy
    Ime the twat in the middle.

  12. #9
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    Don't have pics per se, but base plates are the normal early flat aluminium with two holes for the spanner and the usual three 1915 patent dates. Mills was the owner of the Atlas Aluminium Works, hence base plates, filler plugs and central striker/det housing are of aluminium.
    Not seen copper wash on a Mills body either, come to that, but lots of variant paint/lacquer/varnish finishes. And one that has been enamelled!
    Alan1

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  14. #10
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    67200511_2616613691735581_2526791451363246080_n.jpgI have come to the conclusion that my early May 1915 Mills is in fact gold washed and not copper washed as i surmised.This is because I have come across another Mills in France that is similarly washed. Its of the later type and dated 6/15 so was also possibly used for demonstration purposes on how to make it.So, they are out there and it adds to the scant knowledge about the early production runs of the grenade.I suspect its not for sale but that wont stop me trying to buy it.




    Andy
    Ime the twat in the middle.

 

 

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