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NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

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NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:29 pm

In the last few years collecting Mills bombs has become very popular. It was not that long ago that $30 was a fair price to pay for a very nice one. Whilst the practice versions are still quite cheap, $150 seems to be the norm for an inerted No36M MkI HE. This is not just a New Zealand phenomenon, with there being strong British interest in these little iron beasties. I guess this interest stems from them still being relatively cheap and a seemingly endless array of manufacturers and variations to try and collect.

In WW2, New Zealand made something like 6 million of them. These are the ones I am interested in. Unfortunately there has been very little research done on NZ manufacturers and many of those that were part of this war effort have now passed away. If you have any information (manufacturers, production figures, addresses..) on NZ manufacturers, please contact me. Photos would also be appreciated.

This first posting shows a factory made cutaway of a No36 M MkI. It was made by Booth MacDonald (BM) in October 1941. I’m not sure who made the internals (possibly Methven) or the pin, but the lever was made by the Precision Engineering Company (NPZ) and the dummy fuze by Pallo Engineering.

Cheers
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby kiwiquad » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:49 am

mp mason and porter later known as masport

farrar and sons in christchurch ,foundry(spelling might not be correct) my grandfather worked there as foreman and they had part of a mould on the wall, this was in the early 70's

Anderson in nz.
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:10 pm

Hi,

Thanks for the information. Farrar & Sons is a new one to me. I would like to have seen the casting piece. Can you remember what letters were on the front of the grenade, to denote the manufacturer?

Thanks
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:41 am

Hi. Whilst not actually made from grenade parts, these money boxes were widely distributed throughout New Zealand during the 1940's, as part of the war effort. During those war years some £65 million of funds were transferred from private to government use through Post Office Savings Bank accounts. In addition, the people had, by March 1946, contributed as savings nearly £27 million through National Savings accounts which first became available in 1940. This led to New Zealand having no overseas debt at the end of the Second World War. Written on the thin tin lever of this money box is “NATIONAL SAVINGS WHEN FULL BOMB THE BANK”. I suspect such an advertising campaign would not go down so well today! :D
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Kiwi Ric » Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:25 pm

Hahahaha, bomb the bank ;) I love it, pity people cant take a joke like that anymore! thanks for all the info on the nades mate :)

-R "
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:53 pm

Hi. You’re welcome Rick. Here’s another obscure one. At the start of WW2 New Zealand had very little by way of military equipment. This led to the development of an incredibly functional (and ugly) rifle grenade. As can be seen in the photo, these grenades were also used for throwing practice. Whilst the design is very basic, the fabrication is worse. For obvious reasons not many of these have been kept, making them a difficult item to find. Cheers
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:07 pm

A major problem with the practice Mills grenades was the time it took to reset the plunger, lever and pin between throws. This meant that a lot of practice grenades needed to be on hand, or there would be extended delays to the training. This had been a problem since the introduction of the Mills grenade during the WW1, with many solutions being trialed. During WW2 a wire was added to some practice grenades that physically stopped the lever from leaving the grenade body. This made resetting the lever and pin very quick and easy. This variation was officially called the “Grenade, Drill, Hand, No36M. MKII”. Like many practice grenades found in New Zealand, this one was made by “BMP”. Typically the “P” is drilled out, making it easy to mistake for a Booth MacDonald made grenade. Unfortunately I have no idea who the manufacturer “BMP” was. Can you help? The base plug was made by Mason and Porter in 1941.
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby kiwiquad » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:49 pm

gday , no i was too young, ive been hunting for one for years now,they probably didnt make a lot being a small foundry,its possible they went under another christchurch maker to help speed up production ? mike


fragman wrote:Hi,

Thanks for the information. Farrar & Sons is a new one to me. I would like to have seen the casting piece. Can you remember what letters were on the front of the grenade, to denote the manufacturer?

Thanks
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:44 pm

Another modification intended to make it easier to reset the grenade during throwing practice was an internal rod that prevented the plunger from going all of the way into the grenade, when the lever was released. The rod was fitted by drilling and threading the launcher disk hole all of the way through the base plug. The introduction of the rod meant the top of the plunger was still protruding from the grenade after it had been thrown. This allowed the instructor to reset the lever and pin quickly for use by the next recruit. The idea was first trialled during WW1 and continued in limited numbers during WW2. I am unaware of an official designation being given to this design.

This grenade was made by Booth MacDonald in 1940.Unfortunately by the time I got it the original central rod was long gone and I had to get one made up (thanks Andrew). Please PM me If you have an original rod (it could be made from brass or steel). Also worth noting with this grenade is the shortened spring. These were sometimes used with sectional grenades, so that the compressed spring still looked like a spring.
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:40 am

William Henry Enstone (W.H.E.) had an engineering workshop in Otahuhu, just south of Auckland. In the early stages of WW2 he designed and manufactured grenade inserts and filling plugs at a cheaper cost than the standard brass ones. His filling plugs had a square key and were made of zinc. They were supplied at a cost of ½d, which compared favourably to the 3d the standard slotted brass ones cost. Unfortunately, whilst these were manufactured and supplied early on in WW2, the design change was not approved by the War Department and supply had to stop for a period whilst they debated the introduction of the changes.

I’m told the negotiations with the War Department took more than a year. I am unsure if production stopped during this period, or if the parts were stockpiled. If you have one of these readily identifiable NZ variations, please let me know what the date on the insert is. Hopefully this will indicate production runs.

Often when you find a grenade with WHE fitting it will have a base plug made by “P D (over a V) L”. Do you know who this manufacturer was?

Cheers
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby kiwiquad » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:09 pm

good stuff ! thanks fragman mike
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:11 pm

Hi Mike, you're welcome. This No 36M MkI Mills Bomb was made by Mason and Porter (MP) in 1944. Mason and Porter had a foundry in Mt Wellington, just south of Auckland. They trade today as Masport. Cheers
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:59 am

Hi. This practice Mills was made by Mason and Porter (MP) in October 1940. The practice version can be readily identified from the HE version, as it has 5 holes drilled in the body and will be zinc coated and may also be painted white. These types of grenades were often made from reject casings. They were used for arming, throwing and grenade launching practice. Cheers
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:15 am

Hi, This Mills Bomb was made by Scott Bros (SB) in Christchurch during WW2.

The Scott brothers (John Lee and George) opened a foundry in Christchurch in the 1870’s and were later joined by their brothers William and Moses.

They produced cast iron fuel ranges (including the famous Atlas range) D Class steam railway engines, agricultural machinery, Dredges, Power plants, Bridges, Structural steel, Wrought iron features for verandahs, steeples for houses or churches, ceiling roses, staircase balustrades and grills, fire places………….

During WW2 they manufactured several million hand grenades.

In 1974 the general engineering part of the business was closed, so that the company could focus on larger electric cooker assembly lines. In 2001 Electrolux, which has its parent body in Sweden, took over the firm. The production of electric cookers continues.
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Re: NZ MADE MILLS BOMBS

Postby Fragman » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:04 am

Anderson Engineering in Christchurch was another well known New Zealand manufacturer of Mills grenades during WW2. They used the manufacturers code of “A” to denote their products. There appears to have been no clear directive on how these “A’s” were to be situated on the grenade bodies, as examples can be found with them pointing upwards, downwards and sideways.
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