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15 October 2014
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Sticky bombs, manufactured by Kay Brothers, Stockport

by Stockport Libraries

Contributed by 
Stockport Libraries
People in story: 
Kay Brothers Company, Stockport
Location of story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
29 December 2003

Kay Brothers were a firm of manufacturing chemists started in Stockport in 1865.
Against tanks field guns had almost no effect and hand grenades bounced off the tank armour and exploded in mid-air. A new weapon was required.
The 74 S.T. Grenade or Sticky Bomb was a glass globe containing explosive with a handle to enable it to be thrown, which had a woollen knitted jacket coated with adhesive wrapped around it. A thin steel case went on the outside, held in place by a spring.
Kay Brothers were known for Coaguline Cement so they were approached to develop the adhesive during World War II.
Kay Brothers were responsible for fitting the impregnated knitted cover and handling stem into the pressed steel cover of the Sticky Bomb. Kay’s played a vital part in developing as well as producing this anti-tank weapon.
Among the problems they had to overcome were:
- how to make a 2lb bomb stick to a moving tank and stay there long enough to detonate;
- how to make sure the bombs did not stick to each other before use nor to the hand when thrown;
- how to make an adhesive which remained useable in both hot and cold climates and which was long-lasting.
In Stockport Local Heritage Library's photograph collection are pictures of wartime production of these Sticky Bombs at the Kayborough Works in Reddish. All the 2 ½ million plus sticky bombs requisitioned by the Army were produced by Kay Brothers. They were used in North Africa, in Italy in street fighting and against pill-boxes and they were extensively used in France during the closing stages of the War.
Kay's made other contributions to the war effort as they also packaged a newly discovered anti-malaria drug, Mepacrine, in a double strip of polythene and cellofilm for use in Burma and continued their production of sticky flycatchers which helped to make life a little less uncomfortable for the sick and wounded.

This article was submitted by the Stockport Local Heritage Library, Stockport Central Library

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