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was a British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...
officer and inventor, most famously, of the "shrapnel shell".
Henry Shrapnel was born in Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon is a town in west Wiltshire, England with a population of about 9,326. The town's canal, historic buildings, shops, pubs and restaurants make it popular with tourists....
, Wiltshire, England.
In 1784, while a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...
, he perfected, with his own resources, an invention of what he called "spherical case" ammunition: a hollow cannon ball filled with shot which burst in mid-air. This device was for use as an anti-personnel weapon. When it was finally adopted by the British Army in 1803, it immediately acquired the inventor's name: the shrapnel shell. (It 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.)
Shrapnel served in Flanders where he was wounded in 1793 and was promoted to major on 1 November 1803 after eight years as a captain. After his invention's success in battle on 30 April 1804, Shrapnel was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 20 July 1804, less than nine weeks later.
In recognition of Shrapnel's contribution, the British Government in 1814 awarded him £1200 (about $128,000 USD in today's money) a year for life. He was appointed to the office of Colonel-Commandant, Royal Artillery, on 6 March 1827. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general on 10 January 1837.
Until the end of World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
the shells were still being manufactured according to his original principles.
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...
refers to Shrapnel shells (attached to rockets produced by William Congreve
Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet was an English inventor and rocket artillery pioneer distinguished for his development and deployment of Congreve rockets.-Biography:...
- And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
- Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there.