Browse The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives Home Page

Camp Devens - Grenade Practice - WW1 Cantonment 1918

Another constituent of the modern art of warfare is the hand grenade, an offensive arm hitherto practically unrecognized by our regulations, which has become an important feature in the fighting on the Western Front. The grenade is made of cast iron and is about the size and shape of a lemon.

The outside of the casing is corrugated, so that when it explodes, it bursts into fragments. The grenadier holds it in his right hand, removes the safety pin with his left, and hurls the grenade in the direction of the enemy trenches. Five seconds after the grenade leaves the hand, it explodes, scattering some fifty bits of iron in all directions, with such force that they are dangerous at a distance of a hundred yards.

It is sometimes used preliminary to the attack, in order to clear the opposing front-line trench, but more often to "mop up" an enemy trench, after it has been taken. The French company formation, adopted since the beginning of the war, substitutes a number of grenadiers for the customary riflemen, and the newly adopted English and Canadian formations also have squads of men skilled in throwing the dangerous missiles.

Our formation for action on the Western Front has not yet been perfected but when the final decision is made, there will be a large number of these grenadiers attached to each company. Accordingly, the military authorities at Ayer, leaving no stone unturned in the thorough preparation of the men, have already begun to teach them the art of throwing the grenade.

Grenade Practice: Clearing an Imaginary German Trench

Photo: Grenade Practice: Clearing an Imaginary German Trench

Lieutenant Mallet of the French Mission, assisted by Lieutenant A. W. Wright, is superintending the grenade work at the camp. The group in the picture are non-commissioned officers from the 7th Battalion, Depot Brigade. They are learning the rudiments in advance of the privates so that they will be able to instruct their charges when the time comes.

The Americans find it rather difficult to throw the dummy grenade; they are tempted to throw it like a baseball, but it must be done with a circular overhead movement, by swinging the arm as the pitcher does in the English game of cricket.

Return to Top of Page