Jam Tins for Germans.

Saturday, 6 February, 1915

GallipoliOne of the improvised weapons manufactured in the trenches in early 1915 was the Pipe Mortar modelled on cannons recent and ancient. The basic model was cut from a length of heavy gauge steel water or gas pipe and had a base plate welded onto one end. Adjustable legs were fitted to provide the required change of launch angle to achieve various ranges. A touch hole was drilled towards the base of the 'barrel'. Black powder explosive was then poured into the pipe, the amount dependant on the range required, followed by an improvised mortar bomb, another trench made weapon, the 'Jam-Tin' bomb. The black powder was then initiated by either a fuse placed through the touch hole or a hand-held match or lit cigarette placed directly onto the powder in the touch hole.

(Above right, Gallipoli - British soldiers making bombs from empty jam tins, filled with old nails, bits of shell and barbed wire, and other scraps of metal, and an explosive charge. A fuse was fitted through the top of the tin, which had to be lit by a match. These bombs were first issued in very small quantities about an hour before the third Battle of Krithia, 4 June 1915. © IWM (Q 13282))

In a letter written on the 6 February 1915, Lieutenant Colonel G B Laurie, commanding 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles, records the use of such a weapon:

The Generals gave out yesterday that we were to be attacked last night, the reason being that the Germans were seen to be clearing the wire away from their trenches, presumably with this plan in view. We decided to discourage any such attempts by opening the affair ourselves. We therefore fired on them with all sorts of things, including an iron drain pipe which throws a ring of gun cotton. This is simply made out of an old jam tin, whilst the fuse is lit before firing the charge in the drain-pipe. The latter charge of powder is then driven out of the jam tin. If correctly judged, it hurtles through the air and falls into the German trenches, and blows people there to pieces.

GrenadeThere was also an officially manufactured item nicknamed the 'Jam-Tin' Grenade; many types of grenade had descriptive nicknames such as 'Hairbrush' and others were named after their designers such as the 'Mills'.

Right, the 'Jam-Tin' grenade, officially the 'Grenade, Hand, No 8 Mk. 1'. (© IWM (MUN 3206))