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Early Mills Bomb Dates

FNG61

Well-Known Member
Greetings to grenade collectors! Ive been collecting Mills bombs for a while now and have been trying to nail down some dates on when they appear and disappear. Rick Landers book shows an april 1915 contract to Mills Munitions for the No5 but there were trials Mills bombs as early as march. Ive got most of the books on grenades and have visited the websites, contacted collectors and followed internet auctions and sales but the 7/15 dated No5 pictured is the earliest date Ive found. Have any of you seen earlier dates? Want to post pictures or scans of them here? How about the latest date on a No.5 Mills? 12/16 is the latest I can say for sure. And on the No23 Mk 1 base plugs, ever seen one earlier than 6? I think Ive seen a 5 but cant say for sure. What is the latest 23 Mk1 youve seen? 5s and 23s are all Ive specialized in but Id be interested to hear if anyone has got earliest and latest dates on the 23 II, 23 III and 36. Happy collecting!
 

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Check Dave Sampsons site for the largest collection of base plugs on the net. You might find some of the information listed there. http://www.millsgrenades.co.uk/

To the best of my knowledge, the first actual issue of Mills bombs (No. 5) was in March 1915, a small shipment for field testing in actual combat. Official adoption was May of 1915 which has absolutely nothing to do with when the troops were actually using them, simply paperwork catching up....
 
Check Dave Sampsons site for the largest collection of base plugs on the net. You might find some of the information listed there. http://www.millsgrenades.co.uk/

To the best of my knowledge, the first actual issue of Mills bombs (No. 5) was in March 1915, a small shipment for field testing in actual combat. Official adoption was May of 1915 which has absolutely nothing to do with when the troops were actually using them, simply paperwork catching up....

Thanks Darryl. Glad I printed out the base plug collection you used to have at your site befor you deleted it to link with Dave's instead. Met a guy from BC at an antique show outside Toronto last month says he knows you. You know Jamie from Chemais? ATB Rob
 
Hi all,
i too have only come across base plugs for the Mills gren dated 7/15, nothing before. I reccon that its because the first batch of 15000 was all used up very quickly by the Guards Battallions in training and battle use. I also wonder if these early grens had makers names and dates on the base plugs or were they all made of an aluminium that simply corroded away in the soil. I have a very crude brass base plug, no makers name or date and it has been quite poorly made but came from a very reputable EOD source. The only good thing about it are the threads and there are bits of rusted gren on the rim so i am positive its original.

Andy
 
Hi again,

here is my first attempt to upload a picture of the plug i mentioned earlier. It seems to be quite a rough casting, sand marks being evident and the rim has some hand made file marks. I wonder if this was a very early base plug? If only it could talk.

Andy
 

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Hi all,
i too have only come across base plugs for the Mills gren dated 7/15, nothing before. I reccon that its because the first batch of 15000 was all used up very quickly by the Guards Battallions in training and battle use. I also wonder if these early grens had makers names and dates on the base plugs or were they all made of an aluminium that simply corroded away in the soil. I have a very crude brass base plug, no makers name or date and it has been quite poorly made but came from a very reputable EOD source. The only good thing about it are the threads and there are bits of rusted gren on the rim so i am positive its original.

Andy


Hi Andy. That is a very interesting plug you have pictured. Anyway to upload a larger version of it? On the other 7/15 dated Mills plugs you have seen, what were the makers? Thanks for your posts. ATB Rob
 
Hi Rob,

here i hope is a larger picture, i did have 2 of these plugs but gave 1 to a mate.

I have seen 7/15 plugs from Mills Munitions, a lot more from 8/15, Hopes, BGL, Perfecta to include some.

Fingers crossed this works,

Andy
 

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Rob,

the latest date i have had for a base plug for a no5 is 1/17, seen a few of those but there is a gren for sale on Specialistauctions.com showing a no 5, 3/17, a date i havnt seen before. The earliest 23 mk 1 i have seen is also 6/16. Have come across a copper washed cast iron 23/1 plug but that only showed the year. Can do a piccy of that if you are interested.
Ime sure that the reason we havnt ever seen a May or June 15 No 5 plug is that 1, only 15000 were made up till then and therefore all used up in training the troops and 2, they were all aluminium and therefore corroded in the soil and tjust not found.
I cannot think of any other reasons.

Andy
 
Rob,

the latest date i have had for a base plug for a no5 is 1/17, seen a few of those but there is a gren for sale on Specialistauctions.com showing a no 5, 3/17, a date i havnt seen before. The earliest 23 mk 1 i have seen is also 6/16. Have come across a copper washed cast iron 23/1 plug but that only showed the year. Can do a piccy of that if you are interested.
Ime sure that the reason we havnt ever seen a May or June 15 No 5 plug is that 1, only 15000 were made up till then and therefore all used up in training the troops and 2, they were all aluminium and therefore corroded in the soil and just not found.
I cannot think of any other reasons.

Andy


Hi Andy. The plug picture came out well, thankyou. Crude old things arent they? I wonder if they are part of the early continental contract Mills that made up for the UK shortfalls?
A 1/17 No 5 is nice but a 3/17 No5? Yow, that's late! Sure i'd like to see a picture of the copper washed 23/1 plug, that sounds really interesting. Ive seen nickled cup type No5 plugs and 23/II plugs.
Have you got Rick Lander's book "Grenade"? It shows a contract to Mills for 50,000 No.5s on 27/4/15. Seems possible there could be at least May or June marked Mills. Maybe it didnt occour to them to mark the plugs until July and the earliest ones are unmarked? Or like you say they are aluminum and corroded away. Do you find alot of corroded aluminum plugs? Ive seen some ground recovered aluminum plugs that were in pretty good condition which surprised me. Must depend on the soil and the area they are found in? Seems like electrolysis by contact with a steel bodied grenade wouldnt help either. Maybe next show you'll find an april date No5.
ATB Rob
 
Hi Rob,

here is the copper washed 23/1 plug, as you can see the year is visible, not the month, if only.

Yes the first two plugs do look a bit basic, could have been amoungst the early production run but we will never know.

I dont think we will ever find a May or June plug because of the fact there were too few produced during those months. Ok, there was an order for 50000 grens signed off in April 15, however only 15000 had been produced by July and ile bet a pound to a penny that most of those would have been used to train the troops with only a few 100s getting to the front. With such a new design being introduced the lads had to be certain how to use them and the only way would be with practice. If you have 100 men chucking say six bombs in a training session then you can see how the numbers mount up. Ten days of just that small amount and nearly half of the 15k have gone.
That why i think we will never find any. I reccon most may have been marked by Mills Munitions but as you said, ime sure most corroded in the ground. Some i hope may have survived, soil permitting. Someone may have taken one home, its possible that in a house somewhere in England or France there may be a May 15 gren and its plug, just waiting to be found. I hope so.

Andy
 

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