No. 15 Ball Grenade
Fragmentation Hand Grenade
Intended as an improvement over the original No .1 Hand Grenade model, the No. 15 Ball Grenade was itself a limited success during actions in World War 1.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Because of the bogged-down nature of Trench Warfare fighting during World War 1 (1914-1918), it fell to engineers to develop means to unseat the enemy from their positions. The hand grenade began to play an important role in such actions and all sides developed, or purchased, some form of thrown weaponry. The British Army went on to utilize several types of hand grenades and among the stock was the No. 15 "Ball Grenade". Development of the No. 15 was brought about due to the shortcomings present in the No. 1 stick grenade series and was largely intended for frontline service in the Middle East Campaign.
Many observers thought the war that had started in July of 1914 would be over by Christmas though this notion was quickly disproven as 1915 rolled on and deaths continued to mount on both sides. British engineers went to work on a new infantry hand grenade and production of the type was swift. A timed friction fused detonation mechanism was selected for the design along with a cast-iron body that would fragment by way of an Ammonal filling (5.5 oz worth). A five-second fuse length was the norm though a nine-second duration was also developed for situation-specific actions. The operator removed a fuse cover and lit the fuse by way of a matchhead igniter. Outwardly, the grenade's design was spherical and smooth - certainly handier than the earlier No. 1 stick series.
Despite its rather basic appearance, the No. 15 series grenades were serviceable in combat and their relative simplicity allowed the line to be mass-produced in the hundreds of thousands. However, the No. 15 showcased its own shortcomings in time that included failed fuses influenced by dampness, weak fragmentation of the grenade body due to the excessive amount of filling, and overall size which limited the number carried forward by an infantryman. Some of these issues were remedied in the follow-up No. 16 Hand Grenade which adopted a handier oval shape with limited filling. However, these grenades still relied on the same temperamental ignition system and were also a limited success in service.