|The No.2 Hand grenade was first introduced as a commercial design for foreign
export and later pressed into British military service. This was a variation of the "Hale's Pattern Grenade",
patented by Marten Hale, an explosives expert working for the Cotton Powder Company located in Faversham, Kent.
It is a simple percussion type with an internal graze fuze. It was filled
with Tonite, an explosive made up of guncotton (nitro cellulose) and barium nitrate.
Begining in 1907 the Cotton Powder Company tried to sell their grenade design to the British Army, but were rejected during development trials of the No.1 grenade. They were also rejected during succeeding rifle grenade development. As a result, Cotton Powder's first manufacturing contract was with the Mexican government, to supply it with a rodded rifle grenade using a 7mm diameter rod. This grenade was designated the 7mm Mexican Pattern. (a.k.a. the "Tonite" Grenade). Another contract was awarded by the French, for the same grenade but with an 8mm diameter rod.
With the start of WWI and pressed with shortages of the No.1 grenade, the British military purchased existing supplies of the 7mm Mexican grenades in August 1914, substituing a shorter rod. The design was soon modified into a hand grenade by removing the rod and replacing it with a 16 inch cane handle with a single cloth streamer attached. This was the No.2 Mk.I.
Proving unwieldy in use, the handle was reduced to 7 inches adding multiple cloth streamers, designated the No.2 Mk.II
The Royal Flying Corps used a further variation which substituted a rope or cloth streamer tail for the handle, to be used as an aerial bomb.
While similar to the No.1 grenade, in appearance and basic function, the No.2 used a needle pellet graze fuze, compared to the direct action crushcap impact fuze for the No.1.
The detonator is inserted, the cloth streamers unfolded and the safety pin removed. It was thrown high into the air to allow the tail to orient the grenade nose-first before it hit the ground.
The No.2 was formally introduced for service in Feb 1915 and officially declared obsolete in 1920, but likely was out of service by 1916.
About 130,000 grenades were manufactured.