German Hand Grenades of the Great War – The Stielhandgranate M1917

German soldiers pose for the cameraman with their M1917s. 

This post we turn our attention to the final model of the Stielhandgranate, the M1917, introduced in, yep, 1917.  This photograph shows a seriously scorched M1917 at the top, and a second relic, mixed ‘n’ matched with an appropriate handle, beneath.

The internal workings of the handle of a Stielhandgranate.  The piece shaded red…

…can be seen still in situ inside the handle fragment seen here top right.

A closer look at the head of the M1917, the final Great War version of the Stielhandgranate, shows the main manufacturing difference from the previous versions.  The waterproofing problem has finally been solved…

…by the use of a single sheet of stamped steel (above & below) with a cardboard shadow inside, also in a single head-shaped sheet, as you can see quite clearly above, thus dispensing with any requirement for crimping at the top of the head.

Two M1915s (left & right), showing variations in the depth of the detachable cap, two M1916s (top & bottom) showing crimped tops (and bottoms) of heads, and an M1917 (centre), no crimping required.

Too late.  Dead German soldier and the M1917 he was about to throw.

A closer look at a selection of handles for either the M1916 or M1917, showing minor variations in shape,…

…and, again, other small manufacturing differences, particularly in the bottom two images, the picture bottom right showing a fixing using rivets, on the left, and screws, on the right.  The different stick colours may just be the effects of ageing, but often, as mentioned earlier, the sticks would be dipped in paraffin to aid waterproofing.

Stielhandgranate handles were stamped with the delay time of the fuse, 5 1/2 seconds on the left, and the less common seven seconds on the right, as well as the manufacturer’s initials, for example G. J. B. (left) & J. S. G. (centre).

We’ll end this post with two examples of practice stick grenades, intended for multiple use, the first with the head fitted with a wooden block weighted with shrapnel balls,…

…the edges of which have been filed down…

…to allow the wooden block to be slipped inside the metal head of the grenade.  Presumably, as it could only fit into a M1915 head, this was an early example of a practice grenade, or perhaps obsolete M1915s were used as practice grenades once superseded by the M1916.

The second example is a bespoke practice grenade,…

…designed to emit smoke on landing,…

…thus exposing the accuracy, or otherwise, of the thrower.  These heads would have been painted red, traces of which are clearly visible on the example on the left.

Young German soldiers with practice smoke grenades – you can clearly see the holes in the grenade heads – most of these men also sporting what some modern sources refer to as a ‘Brustschild’ around their necks – personally, referring to something so specific simply as a breastplate, for that is the translation of brustschild, seems a bit unlikely to me.  What was it for?  Click here for the answer.

More museum examples, from left, M1916 small can, M1916 large can, M1917, M1915 with Poppenberg’sche spoon safety system, M1915 standard.

Stacks of German equipment, including hundreds of grenades, await destruction at the war’s end.  Which is where we shall end too.

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2 Responses to German Hand Grenades of the Great War – The Stielhandgranate M1917

  1. Kevin.mcann says:

    Most informative especially with the excellent accompanying photographs. Lots more like this please

    • Magicfingers says:

      Cheers Kevin! One or two more to come, but plenty already in the Weaponry section in the list on the right (you probably already know that).

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