THE HAND GRENADE – Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online.

I was visiting my mum at our local hospital and as I left I walked in to the full on drama of seeing a section of the sprawling establishment being evacuated by the police and staff. There was a bit of tension in the air and a degree of organised chaos as bemused souls waited to see what was going to happen. There were more cops there than at the last WHO New Year’s party. Nuff said. “They’ve found a hand grenade” said a bewildered bloke when I asked him what was occurring. I got no more out of him because he was off like a hare. A guy on a bike stopped and asked me what was happening.  I told him. “Wow! That’s going on Facebook right now!” he squealed, whipping out his phone and grinning like a Cheshire cat. His little thumbs were a blur as I walked to my car. On the way I called my son James and told him I was on my way home… “Oh, and they’ve found a grenade in the hospital.” You couldn’t make it up.

I got to thinking that the time it took me to get out of the place and back to my car was well over five minutes. If that thing was gonna go off it would have done so by now. I am no expert, but this seems pretty obvious to me and I am sure the army bomb disposal guys who eventually took the thing away for ‘examination’ will know best. But I couldn’t help but think it might all have been resolved with half the fuss if Gordon L Rottman had been there.

Hospitals of Britain, listen up. What you need is our friend Gordon’s treatise on the hand grenade from Osprey Publishing. This excellent book gives us the history, mechanics, operators manual and spotters guide to this most recognisable of personal weapons. The next time somebody leaves one at your place you’ll be able to suss it out with ease.

The archive photography is as excellent as ever and the clarity of the whole package is pitched so well you don’t need any more than the eighty pages here to be fully attuned with the delights of eggs and pineapples. There are Mills Bombs, HG85s, stick grenades and even a tiny Dutch thing known as ‘hooch poppers’. We do like a little Dutch thing here at War History Online. This is an Osprey book, so we get a sprinkling of illustrations, this time from Johnny Schumate and Alan Gilliland.

I’ve said before that the concept for these books coupled with the value for money is quite unbeatable.  They just seem so reliable to me and I can almost understand why my chum Phil Hodges goes to bed with one stuffed down his pyjama top every night.

It isn’t every day you’ll find a ‘frag’ at the chest clinic but on my travels around Great War battlefields I have seen many Mills Bombs and other grenades scattered around. The aforementioned James even stood on one at Maltzkorn Farm and survived to tell the tale. Grenades are serious things and this super little book will give you the low down on why they should always be treated with respect. Great stuff.

Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online.

By Gordon L Rottman
Osprey Publishing
Weapon series
ISBN: 978 1 4728 0734 2










Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.