Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, April 24, 2022

With a Bit of Guts Behind them!

Hello Historians, I am still alive and doing history stuff. As you may have gathered, it has not left me much time to do full articles. I do still provide history related content on my social media, with most of it going up on Facebook, but I do put some of it on Twitter (@History_Listy) as well (all dependent on word counts and the like).

Today as I have nothing planned, I thought we could have a look at part of my collection. Over the last few years I have been slowly collecting British Bayonets, and as I now have a decent quantity of them I figured a quick post is in order. So let me take you through my collection of stabby sticks.

The 'complete' collection


First up we have what I am pretty certain is a Brown Bess musket socket bayonet. I got it second hand so its exact details are not stated. I am also daily certain it is a modern reproduction, but as the price was low even for a repo, it seemed silly not to get it. 


Next we have our first real bayonet. In 1871 the British army introduced their new rifle, the Martini–Henry.  Made famous today by its use and appearance in the film Zulu. This was similar to the Brown Bess bayonet, however the triangular cross-section is the same width on all of the sides. This particular one is quite badly battered, with the tip of the blade being quite beaten up. Which is a shame as at the time casting bayonets was tricky, and it was not possible with the technology of the time to get an equal sided point at the tip. So the outer edge had a slight curve to it.This particular one is missing part of the locking system, and has a cracked base, which leads us nicely on to:

This is a 1887 Mk.4 bayonet. After experience of the Martini–Henry bayonet, and its use in Africa, it was determined that the bayonet was in need of improvement. Specifically the old socket bayonets tended to break, and had troubles in their mounting system. So work began on sword bayonets, like this one. The term ‘sword’ is entirely appropriate as the blade is absolutely massive. In length it is about 18 inches (nearly 46cm)! This particular blade was forged in 1886 as part of the trials and development of the bayonet, then in 1891 it was converted to a 1887 pattern. The trials bayonets converted to the 1887 pattern became the Mk.4 of the weapon.


The next bayonet seems to be a much more conventional length to us, and is an 1888 pattern. This particular one was forged in 1896. You can instantly see the similarities in the cross-guard and the bayonet socket on the hilt to the 1887. These were often converted to fighting knives during the First and Second World Wars. There is an interesting variant, which I don’t yet have an example of. It is the 1903 bayonet, the main visual difference is that the rivets holding the grip on are changed to screws, which then becomes the standard way of fitting the handles onto the bayonets.

The new screw style of attachment is amply shown on our next subject, a 1907 sword bayonet. This particular weapon was forged in 1916, at the height of the First World War. These bayonets were fitted to the SMLE Mk.III and would serve all the way up until the early part of the Second World War. Like hte 1887 it is a sword bayonet, and is only a bit shorter in blade length than the 1887. However, the 1887 has a longer grip.

Our next bayonet is a bit of a special case, and unfortunately a bit of an example of a cowboy at work. The bayonet itself is a US made 1913 pattern, with a maker's date of 1917. This particular one then got sent to the British (as it is War Office marked) and is fitted with the leather UK style scabbard, this means it was highly likely it would have been issued to the Home Guard.

The down side is of course the grip. It seems that at some point in its past someone attempted to repair the grip by gluing a pair of wooden handles that they had crafted in place of the originals. The originals should look a lot like the 1907 handles, fixed in place by screws. Both the 1907 and the 1913 patterns look almost identical. So to distinguish the two types two vertical grooves were cut in the wooden handles. This one obviously lacks them, and so would need some restoration.

Our last Bayonet is a No4 Mk.II* spike bayonet. This was pretty much the standard bayonet for the British for the later half of the Second World War. This particular one lacks any markings at all, when combined with the finish makes me believe it may be one of the Post war Belgium production

Anyway, I hope you found this brief look into my collection interesting. There’s still oodles of Bayonets out there to add, however, this is a work in progress.