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Monday, 23 February 2015

"Zeppelin" Bullets WW1.

Germany, early in The Great War sent its huge "Zeppelins" across the English Channel and bombed targets around 'The Wash' (Norfolk) - I watched a 'centennial' TV program the other night focussed on this.

and later reached as far as London. - My mums family come from near Wisbech.
Six months later on the night of 6/7 June, 1915, there was a major breakthrough in the war against the Zeppelin, Sub-Lieutenant RAJ Warneford RN of No 1 Squadron RNAS was off to bomb the Zeppelin sheds over The Channel in a Morane-Saulnier Type L parasol-wing monoplane.

He saw a returning Zeppelin (LZ.37) and attacked from below, only to be driven off by machine gun fire. He followed and waited until it descended to land, then hand-dropped six 20lb Cooper fragmentation bombs on it. Only the last one reached its target, but it caused the huge hydrogen filled craft to burst into flames, falling near Ghent. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for this victory but was killed in the air only days later.
1918 Sopwith with two Lewis Guns.
Brock, Buckingham and Pomeroy:
By the middle of 1916, there were new developments in incendiary/explosive ammunition for .303" Vickers and Lewis Guns. Initially, there was a reluctance to use them as they contravened the Hague Convention, but Germany's first use of poison gas in April 1915 hardened the resolve to beat the 'Hun' by any means possible. There were three types used together as 'mixed incendiary' the effects of which complemented each other.
Brock & Pomeroy Cartridges


New Zealand (Invercargill) engineer John Pomeroy (born in August 1873) - developed in 1902 this explosive bullet which was quickly adopted by British defence services as a means of combating the growing Zeppelin threat. Filled with nitro-glycerine the bullet ignited the hydrogen gas which escaped from the tear in the Zeppelin gas bag created by the bullet's passage. - Later Pomeroy moved to Melbourne where he was well known for his night-time pie-cart drawn by a white horse, - "Pops Pie Cart" operating outside Flinders Street station where he sold plates of peas and pies, pasties and steak'n'kidney on toast etc.. 
Flinders Street Station Melbourne 1927.
His explosive bullets proved to literally need cotton-wool handling to avoid accidental explosion.


The Buckingham bullet (Mk VII bullet) was an incendiary/tracer bullet based on phosphor, invented by James Buckingham in 1914. The bullet contained an incendiary filling of between 10 to 14.5 gns phosphorous which percolated through annular weep-holes, the seal of which melted on firing - the phosphorus igniting on contact with the air leaving a white smoke trace.

An explosive bullet developed by Commander Frederick Brock RN and first successfully demonstrated in 1915, the Brock bullet was designed to explode between the outer covering and gas cells of an airship. - Brock was a member of the "Brock Fireworks" family and designed his explosive bullets initially as a .45" calibre but it was modified to .303 and used by the RFC until 1917 and the RNAS throughout the Great War.

I recall buying "Brocks Bangers" in London as a kid in the 1950s and dropping them down street gutter drain grills!

 - I also well remember - as a spotty teen-ager - being dealt with by a beat Constable who put the fear of everything in me by lifting me high against a wall with one hand under my chin and telling me what he'd do if he caught me with penny bangers again ! - Good Man.

Marty K.

P.S. looking at the photo of Flinders Street Station - the last time that I was there - the area diagonally opposite the station (a church?) was a hang-out for aggressive junkies & "street people'" - no pie cart to be seen any more.