The Sticky Grenade or Sticky Bomb was one of WW2’s more infamous weapons, developed in the aftermath of the Battle of France and evacuation from Dunkirk, where most of the British Army’s anti-tank weapons had been left behind. Intended for use against tanks, the Anti Tank Hand Grenade #74, AKA Sticky Bomb, was a maraca-looking device with an outer metal shell covering a bomb coated with an adhesive.
The user would pull a pin to remove the outer metal layer and expose the sticky bomb, run up to a tank, stick the bomb to it, activate a five-second fuse, then run away or dive to avoid the explosion. Alternatively, the user could throw the bomb at the tank and hope it stuck to its surface. The first problem and it was a major one, was that the Sticky Bomb‘s adhesive had trouble sticking to dusty, muddy, or wet surfaces – “a customary condition of tanks”, as Churchill’s chief military adviser could not help pointing out.
A second problem, also major, was that failing to stick to what it should, the Sticky Bomb had an unfortunate tendency to stick to what it should not: the user. In cartoon-like fashion, the adhesive had a tendency to leak and glue the bomb to its thrower’s hand or uniform. There were likely many situations that would have been funny had they not ended so tragically and gruesomely, of a Sticky Bomb user pulling the pin to arm the five-second fuse, then attempt to stick the bomb to a tank or throw it at one, only to discover to his horror that it was stuck to his hand instead, and spend his last seconds on earth frantically shaking his hand like Wile E. Coyote with a stick of TNT glued to his paw.
As recounted by a British Home Guard member: “It was while practicing that a Home Guard bomber got his sticky bomb stuck to his trouser leg and couldn’t shift it. A quick-thinking mate whipped the trousers off and got rid of them and the bomb. After the following explosion, the trousers were in a bit of a mess — though I think they were a bit of a mess prior to the explosion.”