Knee Mortar — One man’s Trash is another man’s Treasure

Working at a garbage processing facility has it’s ups and downs. If you’re a mechanic like me, then it’s mostly downs. Working there is a test of patience every day. Everything is always broken. But there are perks to working in such places! You often find items that some people believed were useless pieces of garbage, and while most times that is true, there are rare occasions that it isn’t.

Occasionally I find working electronics, toys, brand new home improvement items, tools… Hell, we even found a missing postal worker one year. She was deceased of course, but found none the less! What really gets me going though is when I run across Millitaria or gun parts. Lately I’ve been finding millitaria items of WWII vintage. Just last week I found two WWII 30 caliber ammo cans in fairly decent shape along with eight or nine en-block clips for the M1 Garand. Last year I even found a couple live pineapple grenades. They ended up getting turned in to the local law enforcement agency for disposal. Just a few months back I found something that REALLY got my blood pumping!

Knee Mortar 20151129_173915

1937 French Knee Mortar — Lance Grenades.

I was called over to one of the processing facilities because a conveyor wasn’t tracking correctly and causing a fault in the control system. As I arrived, the sort crew was leaving for lunch. I was there all alone… Just the way I like it! After locking out the main power, I climbed up onto the conveyor to make adjustments and there it was. Sitting right on top of the material stream, partially covered and on it’s way to oblivion. At first all I saw was the foot plate. I instantly thought “That looks like a mortar tube!!!”

After pulling it out of the pile, I was instantly surprised. It wasn’t a mortar tube. It was something BETTER! I cleaned off a bit of mud and debris looking for any identifying marks. Turns out it was an M1937 Lance Grenades 50mm grenade launcher!

Knee Mortar: View from Rear

Knee Mortar: View from Rear

I quickly set it to the side and made my adjustments to the conveyor. After testing the equipment, I walked around the pile looking for more items. I did this because people usually don’t throw just one thing away. They throw BOXES of stuff away. I ended up finding a couple more things, but nothing as spectacular as the grenade launcher.
Before quitting time, I secretly placed the launcher into the back of my truck. I say secretly because I’m not allowed to take anything off site as that would be considered “Scavenging” and I could be fired for it. But for certain things, I’m willing to take that risk! Upon arriving at home, I immediately began cleaning the rest of the gunk off this little piece of equipment and to my surprise it was in really good shape! Aside from the big hole being drilled into the bottom of the main tube and the firing mechanism being welded up. If it wasn’t for these two things it would be fully functional. But alas, it was demilled in order to make it “Safe” for the general population.

A little history on the M1937 50mm Lance Grenades. They were used by the French Bicycle Brigade in WWII. They were utilized by two man teams. Once carried the tube and the other carried the ammo. They used the maneuverability of their bicycles to get through rough terrain fast and get close enough to the enemy to be devastatingly effective. Later, the launcher was modified by removing the Bi-Pod and the rear foot was replaced by a single leg. This was to facilitate faster deployment and on the fly aiming.

Sam Dupalis Michoac

“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

  • Steve S.

    That is badass!!

  • Mikial

    Wow, amazing find. Hope no one from his work reads this and he gets fired.

    Probably one of the best finds I ever had was a box of WWI Horse Gas Mask Bags marked 1918. They were made to fasten to a pannier that went across the horse’s back. I got them for a quarter apiece and sold them on eBay for an average of $57 each.

    • You sound like Freeze. Have any left? And photos to share if you do?


      • Mikial

        Unfortunately, not. That was over 10 years ago.

    • He also requested an Alais for that reason. No problem obviously.


      • Mikial

        That’s good. People like bosses and the government just have no sense of humor.

      • B. Young

        That’s quite an alias! I got to remember when Joe Doe just won’t cut it use “Sam Dupalis Michoac’!-lol

  • B. Young

    That thing is in great shape. Want one. By the dial adjustments on the bottom of the tube it must have had a adjustable gas release system of some sort?? or?? most interesting gun related thing I’ve seen in a while.

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