Mystery Item No. 1

What, pray tell, might these be? 

They are of Great War vintage, of course, German, one is flat, and one isn’t.

They both have the same use but were not used together.

And they are not part of something, like a part of a field gun, but to be used they did have to be attached to something else.  These devices are different models of exactly the same thing, and are no more and no less than what you see.  Which is all you are going to get from me.  Apart from the fact that you know many of my specific Great War interests by now.  Which may or may not be a red herring.  Have fun.

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42 Responses to Mystery Item No. 1

  1. Sid from Down Under says:

    You devil, you – this is unfair. Curiosity killed the cat and information brought it back to life – which you will ultimately do. So, starting the solution – they very obviously are round, very rusted, flat or domed-with-hole somethings. Look about 3 inch diameter.

    Something to do with hand grenades. No – you’ve done them to death (LOL)

    Something to do with a 3” mortar bomb? Something to do with a magnesium flare?

    • Magicfingers says:

      As people clearly have better things to do with their weekends – and why wouldn’t they – I might give you the answer off-site, if you wish. It can stay up here for a while as a mystery item, I think.

  2. Sid from Down Under says:

    I look forward to receiving your off-site information ….. as part of the mystery fun I’m prepared to be mocked by one and all for being wrong but at least I have a go … pity others do not!

    Carole and I have just returned from Albany on Western Australia’s south coast where we visited the 16,000 plus lights in the “Field of Lights” which ends on ANZAC Day 25th April. Very moving. Also visited the National ANZAC Centre which commemorates both ANZACS and the Western Front. An amazing place. I hope my photographs will be OK because I plan to send you some – grenades, bayonets etc. You would have a ball in this place.

  3. Nick Kilner says:

    It looks a little like part of a German disc grenade, but I wouldn’t put any money on that 😉

  4. Sid from Down Under says:

    Good try Nick and far better than my attempt – but I’m confident Magicfingers will say you’ve gone from my suggested “Red hot” to very cool.

    Hint: Think the opposite … ah, that’s given it away but there is a specific name

    Let’s hope with your and my efforts, other readers will join in this mystery and eventually MF will disclose all …. until then he’ll be basking in his mystery challenge

    • Magicfingers says:

      Well the first thing I had to do is find out what the hell a pusher plate might be. I know bugger-all about artillery shells. Lol! Actually I really should get some expert advice – Nick, add this to your list please. Expert advice required at some point! Anyway, looking at diagrams I can see why Nick suggested a pusher plate – but he ain’t right, is he?

      • Nick kilner says:

        Ian Jones is your man for advise on artillery shells, or ammunition in general come to that. I don’t think it would be an over exaggeration to say he’s probably one of the foremost experts in Europe. I’m nothing more than an interested amateur in that respect I’m afraid.

    • Nick kilner says:

      Hmmm, so back to my original thought I’m presuming it’s grenade related?

      • Magicfingers says:

        It is. It was used with one generic type of grenade only and it had one specific purpose.

        • Nick kilner says:

          Were they something to do with the charge itself? Safety covers perhaps?

        • Nick Kilner says:

          I have it! Shall I tell, or shall we keep it going?

          • Sid from Down Under says:

            I suspect, Nick, you have truly discovered the answer so that deserves the good old Aussie cry “Eureka!” But that said, may I suggest …. “please some other readers Have a go” …..

            A certain person is soon heading north for a while so hold your powder Nick until 28th April unless said person says otherwise

          • Nick Kilner says:

            That’s absolutely fine with me Sid, mum’s the word 😉

  5. Magicfingers says:

    Me, I am saying nowt until I return.

  6. Sid from Down Under says:

    Och mon, I expect you to come back after engaging with things steam and explain this in plain English

    Now that’s the challenge – perhaps much more simple than your rusty mystery disc

  7. Felicity Felyne says:

    Oooh, I’ve just learnt what this is (I think)!

    Due to the conditions in the environment in which they were used, one particular method of delivery for a device proved too efficient, so these were developed to retard the burrowing capability of said device, either by 25% or 50%.

    Am I right?

    • Magicfingers says:

      Having read Sid’s comment below, what a quandary I find myself in! Lol! I would feel almost churlish if I didn’t give you the prize, Felicity, although Sid does comment on my precisicity (I made that up!). Your answer is wonderful. Swap ‘burrowing capability’ for an eight letter word beginning with ‘v’ and ending in ‘y’, and it’s yours. See, I am being churlish!!

      • Sid from Down Under says:

        I think your fourth letter is “o” but would not another eight letter word “friction” causing also meet with your precisicity (love that word). Nick did very well, too

        Look forward to your next Mystery

        • Felicity Felyne says:

          I’d like to buy a vowel please… wait, I don’t need to…I’ll just take my name, trade my F with your V, and the first I with an O, and bingo was his name-o! (maybe, hopefully)! It’s airline sized miniature double malt scotchy whisky on the rocks for all!

          I watched ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ on Thursday (was ANZAC Day here in Kiwiland) and there was a 10 second clip of these being used and was all excited yelling ‘those are those things!’. The position in which the ejecting device was held (relative to it’s normal position) was such that the recoil knocked the guys helmet off. Was kinda funny. I hope I haven’t given too much away to other readers who were wanting to figure it out.

          • Sid from Down Under says:

            Your consonant trading is worthy of a Stock Trader ringing the bell and deserving of a well done elephant stamp ….. air “friction” affects the MF v word thus it could be a friction device but I’ve cheated. Anyone else up to having a go?

            PS MF might say you’ll have to settle for a NZ
            1993 Cask Strength Single Malt. Only $899 per 750ml bottle (do I hear a gasp from MF?) at a light 49-60% ABV … will satisfy the most discerning pallet.

          • Magicfingers says:

            Brilliantly put Felicity! Damn. I missed a trick with your name there. And it is a favourite name too! Lol. Your explanation of how you discovered made me chuckle. And I am going to have to find that bit in the film. Well done you. I will explain to anyone else the whole answer when Mystery Item Number #2 is ready. Oh what fun!

  8. Sid from Down Under says:

    Hello Felicity – methinks you are well on the right track too … but I wonder if precise Magicfingers will accept your definition … we should learn when he soon returns from his Bonny Scotland jaunt …. I reckon for those who are “close enough to right” should be awarded a bottle of Double Malt Scotch Whisky even if it’s an airline size miniature

  9. Paul says:

    The items in question are for the German Gewehr Srenggranate 1914. They were attached to the rear of the rifle grenade, where the rod screws in. The are called ranging disks, and they were supposed to help slow down the grenade as they tended to plow into the ground before detonation.

  10. paul a hastings says:

    Good question, I have not found any evidence to suggest they did or did not. The German rod grenades had a tendency to burrow into the ground upon impact, reducing the explosive force. Something that also happened with the artillery shells as well. However rodded grenades wore out the barrels of the firing rifles, which led to the use of cup dischargers instead as well as improved hand-thrown models.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Well personally, I am not convinced, mainly because I am not convinced about the efficiency of the rod grenade in the first place. If you think about it, the rod grenade was patented in 1909 (the British Army didn’t actually pay Frederick Hale, the inventor, nor his invention, any attention until 1915), had a life of a few years in which every combatant nation produced them, and then post-Great War it was, not entirely, but pretty much, consigned to the dustbin of obsolete military inventions. I think it was a ‘bandwagon’ weapon, in that once they were first used, everyone thought they’d better have some of them. And I suspect the ranging discs probably just help to indicate even more that rod grenades were rubbish in the first place, and were simply too inaccurate to be used for the kind of work for which they were intended. Like a Formula One car that has a fundamental design problem – you can stick as many fancy bits on it as you like, it still won’t be quick enough.

      • Paul says:

        I agree, I feel that rifle grenades, rodded or cup discharger types were not very accurate. I have seen quadrant sights added to the rifles to improve accuracy, as well as mounts built for the rifles, but I doubt it did much. Usually these rod grenades were employed in batteries to improve the odds of destroying an enemy target. I did read that the ranging disc did help to slow the grenade from 25-50% depending on which way the disc was used. But overall the rod type grenades were just not very effective in my opinion. They were a waste of resources that many nations could not afford long term.

  11. Magicfingers says:

    Your final sentence sums it up, I think. Interesting to chat about these things. I only own one – which I posted here a while back, if you haven’t seen it, but Hale’s original diagrams are included at the end:

  12. Paul says:

    Yes, nice to chat on these items, I have enjoyed reading your articles. One can never get enough knowledge on the subject in question. I have several of the rod grenades as well as several cup dischargers and corresponding grenades.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Well, thank you, Paul. Oh yes, always learning. As you may know, my grenade collection is generally Austrian or German, and there are some items in the collection I have yet to publish a post about………and it did seem sensible to find a few Italian examples so I can show what the Austrians had coming back at them………sourced purely for educational purposes. Lol! All in due course.

  13. Paul says:

    I look forward to your future articles. The Austrian section you posted is very well done, there is typically not much on that area, much like the Italian versions. Any chance of you doing a post about WW1 Russian Grenades as well? That is another neglected area as well.

    • Magicfingers says:

      That’s very kind of you. I like the idea of Russian grenades too (although not so easy to get hold of), but the missus has just suggested that divorce probably comes just above Russian grenades on the list, so I wouldn’t hold your breath……..

  14. Paul says:

    I understand, lol. I have several of the Russian types, but there is not much info out there on them.

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