The man and the munition

From the previous post:

Sandbox tree fruit looks like little pumpkins, but once they dry into seed capsules, they become ticking time bombs. When fully mature, they explode with a loud bang and fling their hard, flattened seeds at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and distances of over 60 feet. The shrapnel can seriously injure any person or animal in its path.

“Shrapnel” is such a great word, it deserves some exposition of its own:

Lieutenant General Henry Shrapnel (1761–1842) was a British Army officer whose name has entered the English language as the inventor of the shrapnel shell.

In 1784, while a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, he perfected, with his own resources, an invention of what he called “spherical case” ammunition: a hollow cannonball filled with lead shot that burst in mid-air. He successfully demonstrated this in 1787 at Gibraltar. He intended the device as an anti-personnel weapon. In 1803, the British Army adopted a similar but elongated explosive shell which immediately acquired the inventor’s name. It has lent the term shrapnel to fragmentation from artillery shells and fragmentation in general ever since, long after it was replaced by high explosive rounds. Until the end of World War I, the shells were still manufactured according to his original principles.

The Crown awarded him £1200 a year for life, some of which he actually was paid. (This equals about £82,000 today.)

1 comment

  1. fillyjonk »

    27 March 2019 · 3:55 pm

    So many things named after British military men:

    Both cardigan and raglan sweaters (James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, and Lord Raglan, 1st Baron Raglan, who had lost an arm and the sloping cut of the armscye of that sweater eased what movement he had left); and also Kitchener stitch, a technique for seamlessly grafting sock toes, named after Lord Kitchener (POSSIBLY invented by him). Prevents chafing of the toes, important when you’re either marching for miles and miles or standing for hours in a muddy trench.

    Cardigan and Raglan were Crimean War; Kitchener was WWI.

    There are probably other eponymic things, but being a knitter, those are the ones most dear to my heart.

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