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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 1:45 am 
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Location: Australia
The World Today
Reporter: Jane Cowan

ELEANOR HALL: Explosives experts were dispatched to a suburban home, in Melbourne, this morning when a couple discovered they'd bought more than they bargained for at auction.The couple had bid on a box of tools, but ended up bringing home a World War II grenade as well.It's an experience they say they are not keen to repeat, but experts say it happens frequently, thanks to the souveniring habit of Australian soldiers.In Melbourne, Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: When Peter Todd made a $10 bid at an antiques auction, he thought he was getting a great deal on a box of woodworking tools.

PETER TOOD: When we got the box home last night and started to empty it, we found what looked like a grenade in the bottom of the box. And once we found that obviously we walked away from it fairly rapidly and rang the police.

JANE COWAN: Peter and his wife had to evacuate the house overnight while they waited for explosives experts.

The discovery was made even more nerve-wracking by the knowledge that the box hadn't been handled with particular care.

PETER TODD: Well It was brought home in the boot of the wife's car and we actually dropped it on the driveway when we got it out the back of the car cause it's so heavy.It's a bit scary to find something like that.

JANE COWAN: Major Danny Rowe is from the Army's Bomb Response Group.

DANNY ROWE: It turned out to be an Italian Breder (phonetic) grenade, that's a World War II grenade used by the Italian army.

JANE COWAN: How common is this sort of thing?

DANNY ROWE: We do a job about ever second day, last calendar year, we did 175 jobs and we picked up about 400,000 items.

JANE COWAN: How many of those turn out to be dangerous?

DANNY ROWE: About 10 per cent of them turn out to be live. So it is quite a significant amount of explosive ordinances out there.

JANE COWAN: And that's where Curator Mike Etzel comes in, he specialises in ordinance and munitions at the Australian War Memorial.

He says the grenade most likely came from North Africa.

MIKE ETZEL: Brought back by an Australian soldier as a souvenir, deactivated over in North Africa before it came into this country and they sort of pop up, from my experience about once every 12-18 months from either a deceased estate or occasionally from a firing range.

JANE COWAN: So that was pretty common for soldiers to bring home souvenirs with them?

MIKE ETZEL: It was common.

It wasn't an official policy, however, Australian soldiers have always been noted for being the sort of people who collect items of memorabilia or souvenirs from battlefields.

JANE COWAN: Do these sort of things have much historical significance?

MIKE ETZEL: Some do, because sometimes they were liberated by Australians who saw combat service in North Africa and have made a name for themselves.

Other times they've been collected by souvenir hunters overseas and just brought back.

Some have got financial value, others have got historical value, so theirs a bit of both involved.

JANE COWAN: The grenade turned out to be totally inert with no explosive filling. But for Peter Todd, his antiquing hobby will never be quite the same.

PETER TODD: We'll certainly look in boxes now (laughs). We will not be buying anything sight unseen anymore I don't think.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Melbourne man Peter Todd ending that report from Jane Cowan in Melbourne


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:48 am 
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The Breda type of grenade was probably one of the more dangerous ones. I spect that if it had been live, it could have done some damage. (Not like the more common scrm type, more blast than anything)

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 1:48 pm 
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http://www.inert-ord.net/italrd/index.html

These are a series of hand grenades used by the Italian Army during World War II.Apparently developed more or less simultaneously all have same numerical designation, Mod.35.They are offensive types of thin sheet metal construction (mostly aluminum) with Allways impact fuzes.Painted a vivid red and having a notorious reputation of being dangerous when found in an unexploded condition they were nicknamed "Red Devils" by the British during the 1941-42 desert campaigns.There are other variations of these types (practice, smoke) as well as adaptations to other concepts (incendiary, stick grenades) but the focus here will be on these three high explosive types.

These grenades are commonly identified by the manufacturer's company logo stamped on the grenade. The SRCM is embossed with "SOCIETA ROMANA".Production of the SRCM continued after the end of the war and was still being encountered in Europe as of 1992 It has an interesting internal safety feature that set it apart from the OTO and Breda designs.

Overall height ranges from 80 to 97mm, diameter from 51 to 56mm and they weigh approximately 200g each. The explosive used was TNT (Tritolo binitronaftalina) with an effective radius of about 10 to 15 meters.It is interesting to note that external size is not a very good indication of the explosive capacity of each grenade. Here are the internal HE capsules displayed in front of their respective grenades. You can see that while the OTO outwardly is the smallest of the three, a greater percentage of it's internal volume is devoted to explosive.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 6:19 pm 
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a contempory account of these grenades was written by an Alpini sergeant named Rigoni Stern. He wrote that the SCRM types were deemed the worst, and for his troops to discard them, and to keep 'the better' ones, those being the OTO and Breda types. Now he doesn't say why the SCRM types were so bad, but it could be down to the actuallity (Always) fuse that italian grenades used. Once the pin (Or rather synthetic rubber tag) was pulled, the grenade was live once the safety catch was released. This meant that the grenade exploded immediately on impact. The problem was that anyone heavy handed could detonate the grenade just by pulling their arm back. However, plenty of the SCRM types were found in the North African campaign, so we could draw the conclusion that their always fuse wasn't as good (Another account from Stern describes an attack by Russian troops, where the defending italian (singular) lobbed a few grenades, but they fell harmlessly in the snow), so perhaps the Breda and OTO types detonated more frequently than the SCRM types, and therefore were more useful.

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