The Armed Forces History Museum has a Firearms and Ordnance Gallery displaying WWII firearms, ordnance, mines, hand grenades and bayonets.  The gallery has been sub-divided into a separate Mines and Grenades section in order to accommodate the unique and numerous items in the collection.

Bayonets, mines and grenades are a few of the pieces represented in this comprehensive display of firearms and ordnance that includes all eras of military service.  Also included are long arms, hand held weapons, machine guns, mortars, bayonets, landmines and hand grenades.  The Firearms and Ordnance gallery also features several experimental and prototype pieces and other one-of-a-kind artifacts.  This gallery houses one of the areas largest displays of mines and hand grenades.


A Brief History on Military Weapons

The evolution of firearms and ordnance can be traced back to the beginning of mankind.  Crude, but effective weapons were handcrafted and used for hunting and as a means of defense.  For as long as mankind has existed, battles have developed in pursuit of power and/or resources.  From the simple club in prehistoric times to modern day nuclear weapons, military firearms and ordnance have evolved in a pursuit to rise to victory.

The first designed weapon- a throwing spear - is believed to date back 400,000 years.  Moving forward 150,000 years later, mankind further refined this device using fire to harden the points.  As recent as 60,000 years ago the first sign of the bow and arrow are found along with the javelin.

During the Bronze Age (3000 BC), powerful weapons that were more durable began to be produced.  The most notable weapon from this era is the sword.   Later, in 1200 BC, iron was beginning to be used in the development of weaponry.  At the same time, formal armies and new tactical concepts were beginning to rise.  As these armies grew, so did the need for larger and better weapons.

Moving into the Middle Ages, the most important development for this time period includes the heavily armoured knight donned with a variety of weapons and the building of large fortresses – or castles.  The heavy stone walls of the castle and the strategically located towers created an additional layer of protection as well as a height advantage previously unknown to the warrior.  Adding motes and various types of traps reinforced the safety of the castle which required new strategic plans from the enemy.

The Colonial period saw the dawn of weapons using gunpowder.  By the late 1800s, ammunition advancements were being made along with projectiles and gun powder.  During the Civil War period, the machine gun was developed.  Ships were also being modernized during this time to use fossil fuels, which made them no longer completely dependent on their sails.  As new ships were being built, wood was being replaced by metal.  These two changes made the ships faster and more durable.  With the improvement on the ships, came the need to improve the power of the artillery.

The World War I era saw further evolution of the machine gun, the introduction of the tank and the invention of the airplane.  With the addition of the airplane, the need for aircraft carriers arose.  Then by WWII, chemical and biological warfare was developed, becoming the first means of mass destruction.  Further development of nuclear weapons continues to this day, along with intercontinental ballistic missiles and computer guided munitions.

Modern day warfare has greatly changed in comparison to a hundred years ago and it isn’t even recognizable when compared to its rudimentary beginnings.