Shrapnel, Henry
b. 1761-06-03
d. 1842-03-13
Henry Shrapnel is mentioned in the despatches in two letters, both dated after his death, from his son General Henry Needham Scrope Shrapnel who was asking the state for compensation because of his father's legacy as the inventor of the “Shrapnel Shell”.1 In the minutes of the letter dated 5 April 1860, the Colonial Office staff discussed the confusion surrounding the letters and their timing; they were dated one day apart, claimed to be from the same individual, however they were sent from opposite sides of the world.2 The CO staff concluded that regardless of whether or not Shrapnel had two sons with the same name, or if one is an imposter, the best thing to do will be to return answers devoid of encouragement to both applicants.3
The “Shrapnel Shell” (also know as “shrapnel bullets”) is ammunition that functions by fitting a timing fuse into the bullet shells that would cause them to explode and spread the small bullets that were inside across the area of impact.4 The final design of the shell was quite deadly since it could kill whole groups of soldiers and horses.5 The shells were manufactured for over one hundred years until the end of the First World War.6 In addition to the “Shrapnel Shell”, Shrapnel also developed a percussion lock for small arms and other lesser-known military inventions after his retirement from active service on 29 July 1825.7
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Shrapnel, Henry Needham Scrope