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Home Guard Enamel Sign from an 'AW' Bomb Case
This original WWII sign would have originally have been screwed on the inside lid of a box containing "AW Bombs" (a reference to the manufacturers Allbright and Wilson) or as officially known the 'SIP' or 'No 76 grenades'. Four grenades were packed in one wire-bound wooden case which had two rope handles and was fastened with two wires sealed with lead. The grenade was self igniting, consisting of a short necked half pint clear glass bottle containing yellow phosphorus, water, benzene and rubber, with a free space of 10%, sealed with a plain red crown cork. Spontaneous ignition occurred when the glass was shattered on contact with the target, by the oxidation of the phosphorus in air, which in turn ignites the benzene. A crude rubber two-inch strip, gradually dissolved in the container during storage, rendering the contents tacky and therefore assists it to adhere to the object at which the grenade is directed. The weight of each filled grenade was 1.5 lbs. You can almost imagine 'Dad's Army's Corporal Pike's shouting his warning 'Don't panic Mr Mainwaring' when handling such a weapon-before dropping it!
The AW bomb was issued to the Home Guard initially for hand throwing and then for firing from 'the Northover Projector'. The Projector was a 2.5 inch ad hoc anti-tank weapon used by the British Army and Home Guard during the Second World War. With a German invasion of Great Britain imminent in 1940 after the allied defeat in the Battle of France, most available weaponry was diverted to the regular British Army, leaving the Home Guard short on supplies, particularly anti-tank weaponry. This weapon consisted of a hollow metal tube attached to a tripod, with a rudimentary breech at one end. Rounds were fired with the use of black powder ignited by a standard musket percussion cap and it had an effective range of between 100 and 150 yards. The weapon did have several problems in that it was difficult to move and the No. 76 Special Incendiary Grenades had a tendency to break inside the breech, damaging the weapon and injuring the crew. Like many obsolete Home Guard weapons, it was eventually replaced by the 2-pounder anti-tank gun in 1943. It is probably a good thing this weapon was never tested in a live situation whilst defending our shores!
The sign is generally in good condition for its age, with just minor chips to the enamel. Whilst the handling and storage advice is all present and readable it appears to have been over painted in parts at some stage ; we have chosen to leave it thus, just as it came to us. Measures 12" x 8" (30.5 cm x 20.0 cm)