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Who was Captain Shrapnel – inventor of the shrapnel shell
The Captain Shrapnel website respectfully salutes Lieutenant General Henry Shrapnel (3 June 1761 – 13 March 1842) a British Army officer whose was the inventor of the shrapnel shell, his name 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.
In 1784, while a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, he invented what he called “spherical case” ammunition: a hollow cannonball filled with lead shot that burst in mid-air; 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 was named after the inventor.
Shrapnel served in Flanders 1793, where he was wounded. After eight years as a captain was promoted to major in 1803. Following his invention’s success in battle at Fort New Amsterdam, Suriname, on 30 April 1804, Shrapnel was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was appointed to the office of Colonel-Commandant, Royal Artillery, 1827 and rose to the rank of lieutenant-general in 1837.
The Shrapnel Shell
Described as “spherical case” ammunition: a hollow cannonball filled with lead shot that burst in mid-air.