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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Brian Wolfe

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About Brian Wolfe

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    Senior Moderator

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Ontario, Canada
  • Interests
    Medals: British and India (post 1947), Special Constabulary and a few others.
    General: Staffordshire and British Police memorabilia
    Plus odds and ends that capture my interest from time to time.

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  1. Never go to a pawn shop unless you want to give it away. Better a dealer than a pawn shop...I cannot believe I said that! If you must sell these two items (keep them together for the sake of Pete!) see if you can find a reputable auction house. Another thing about the way the world works as far as pawning items. Once pawned because you absolutely need the cash it is not likely you will come up with the money to purchase it back in the allotted time before the item becomes property of the pawn shop; that's just not being rational. Look to other ways to raise the cash you need and keep the dagger. Cars come and cars go, that dagger, once gone will be gone forever. Regards, and good luck. Brian
  2. Brian Wolfe

    Hobnail trench club and bayo

    People get the strangest ideas about how to "improve" an antique arm and probably the only thing worse than spraying the scabbard with silver or aluminium paint would have been to have used gold paint. Either way this can be removed and the original look restored with a little work. I think the club has upholstery nails which is not to say this is not original. At the time soldiers used what was at hand to make such items. I would not hesitate to purchase such an item that looks like this, if I were looking to add one to the collection, as it has the "look" of authenticity. I could more than likely turn out such an item in my shop but to get the look of the ages would be just about impossible. And why one anyone want to fake such an item in the first place. My opinion is that this is an original. Also remember that any specimen one might find on "Images" on the internet may not match this one as they were, at times, ad hoc, that is to say made individually or in small runs as needed. Nice find. Regards Brian
  3. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Hi Simon, Thanks for your comment. Sorry for the delay in replying, my computer passed away after a long illness and it took a week to get a new one. If I am to be honest, it took four days to actually get a new computer and three more days to figure out all of the updated software. It would indeed make an rather less expensive collection to put together a nice grouping of short swords from different countries. The LTC sword would be one of the easier specimens to get in mint conditions for the reasons given in the article. The British had several saw backed pioneer swords as well as drummer and bandsmen swords; though there seems to be little evidence of their use as true weapons. At the moment Indian swords are a very good purchase for the money, at least here in Canada. Like many collectables I am sure the prices will go up as soon as people realise that they are priced well below other swords of similar quality. A post on the "best bang for the dollar, or pound" as it relates to the sword market might be interesting. Regards Brian
  4. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Good one. Regards Brian
  5. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    The Land Transport Corps Sword Land Transport Corps Sword Perhaps one of the most interesting swords of the British military was the Land Transport Corps sword, not because of the campaigns in which it was used but for the fact that it was never officially issued to any troops. Historical background: One of the problems throughout the history of warfare has been that of supplying the troops with food, material, weapons, shelter and clothing to name a few of these necessities. When the campaign is at or near home the supply is much easier, however, during the Victorian period starting in 1837 the Wars of Empire were far afield. During this time the task of provisioning the troops fell under the Commissariat Department, a civilian body with no formal establishment of supervision. Earlier attempts at supply were undertaken by the Royal Wagoners, and during the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Wagon Train which were comprised of civilian personnel. These attempts were largely inadequate and any attempt to train a specialized corps was undone by the government as these corps were disbanded during times of peace. The use of civilian drivers was also quite common in India, used by both the East India Company and the Queen’s Indian Army. Again, during times of peace these civilian employees were disbanded, thereby saving on costs, which was an important objective. However, when once again the need for the civilian drivers was required there was never any guarantee that either drivers or wagons would necessarily be found in sufficient quantity. This lack of sufficient transport was particularly felt during the Crimean War of 1854 – 56. When the British expeditionary force landed at Calamita Bay in 1854 there were no pack animals or wagons available due to the lack of proper forage for the animals. The only horses landed belonged to the artillery, cavalry and officers. The first transport that was available to the British was in the form of captured Russian wagons. The capture of Balaclava finally offered a proper landing site; however there were still no means of moving the much needed supplies the eight miles to the front line at Sebastopol. This left tons of supplies to rot “on the docks” at Balaclava. Conditions worsened with the winter of 1854 and what supplies that reached the troops was on the backs of Regimental Officer’s horses and men on foot. With this the Commissariat Department collapsed in late 1854 followed by a Royal Warrant in January 1855 creating the Land Transport Corps (LTC). Unfortunately the attempt to reorganize the former Commissariat Department with the new LTC, which consisted of 8,000 men plus several thousand civilians, was a limited success. The same lack of discipline coupled with lack of experience with horses and an unfamiliarity with outdoor life resulted in one of the highest mortality rates from disease and exposure recorded for any other corps during the war. The LTC never overcame these shortcomings during the war and in 1856 they were reorganized to form the Military Train. The Land Transport Corps Sword: It would appear that someone held great expectations of the Land Transport Corps as a sword was commissioned for their use. This is particularly interesting as there is no evidence that any sergeants or other ranks of the former Royal Wagoniers, The Royal Wagon Corps or the Royal Wagon Train ever carried swords; probably due to their non-combatant role and were essentially civilians in uniform. Possibly it was thought that since the 8,000 making up the LTC were members of the military they should be appropriately armed, however this is pure speculation. The Land Transport Corps sword seems to have been patterned after the French infantry sword Model 1831, called the “cabbage chopper” by the French troops. Blade length and width: 22½ inches by 1 ½ inches (specimen shown is 1 3/8 inches wide) Blade type: Single edged (Robson records this as double edged, however the specimen shown in his book as in this specimen shown below, is plainly single edged) Guard: Brass Scabbard: Black leather, brass locket with frog stud and chape. Sword weight: 2 lb. 1 oz. Made by Kirschbaum, Solingen. Bibliography: Knight, Ian, “Go to your God like a Soldier” Robson, Brian, “Swords of the British Army, Revised Edition”, pg.240 Article submitted by Brian Wolfe Specimen shown below from author’s collection.
  6. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    Hello Boris, Good to here from you and thanks you for your accurate comment. In researching for articles I write elsewhere I have found that many times our heroes are best left as they are, without too close an examination. It's not that they are especially bad just human. Thanks again. Regards Brian
  7. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Hi IrishGunner, Thanks for you comment. Now we (Canada) is on the verge of legalizing Mary Jane who knows what will happen to my blogs, maybe I’ll start to see unicorns. I wonder if they are any good on the barbecue.? Regards Brian
  8. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Hi 2dresq Thanks for your comments. As much as I enjoy the Star Wars movies I never once though about the name connection between Mr. Hutt and Jabba, that was a good one indeed. I think if anyone every says I knew him in school it won't be when they pin a plastic tag to a uniform, perhaps while they are tying the toe tag in the morgue though. Regards Brian
  9. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    Hi SemperParatus, Thanks for that great comment. Regards Brian
  10. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Yes, yes I am an Expert! Or, Experts and other random things I rant about. For years I have ranted and railed against the proliferation of so-called “experts”, especially on the internet; these people who seem to hold onto the idea that if they write something then that which they have written suddenly holds validation as the truth. I am reminded of the old movies where the Pharaoh announces to the scribes and others in attendance, “As it is written so shall it be”. Well, it may indeed “be” such as a law but that is not necessarily true about every “so shall it be”. Writing that all pyramids from this day forward shall be built with the point down will not make it so. Besides if that were possible think of the impact it would have today on Ponzi schemes. A few weeks ago we had house guests for a week in the form of my wife’s brother and his wife. My brother-in-law is not the stereotypical brother-in-law featured in comedic performances but rather a highly educated man and to call him an extremely successful business man would be a great understatement. He related that he was once told that the definition of an expert was someone who has read one chapter ahead of you in the instruction manual. He is an engineer so “instruction manual” suits him; my point of reference would have been “history book”. But, you say potato and I say, “ Solanum tuberosum”. Put the cell phone down, no need to verify that botanical name, I already looked it up. Yes, this time I cheated. This whole “what is an expert” thing got me to thinking. My brother-in-law is correct, an expert is not necessarily someone who knows everything about a subject, but simply is required to know more than you. Did we really think that our math teacher in High School could calculate the mass of Epsilon bootis (it’s a binary star system)? Personally, the teacher who comes to mind had a bad habit of counting the number of weeks with his thumb on the fingers of the same hand to determine when the school year would end and “this insanity would stop”. It was just a habit, one I have been guilty of from time to time, and I am sure it was an un-necessary exercise...or was it? By the way, go ahead and fact check Epsilon bootis on Google I was just “winging” that one; though I think it is correct. Besides it was an astrological joke as the teacher I am thinking of would have had to use the fingers on both hands (binary system, get it; yah, you got it). Speaking, or more accurately writing, about fact checking though the use of Google on the cell phone, there was a time when students would attend a play bringing with them a copy of the piece and check to see if the actors knew their lines perfectly. A number of years ago my wife and I were attending a Shakespearian play in Stratford, Ontario. The play was the Tempest and stared William Hutt as Prospero in what was to be his final appearance on stage. The front row was filled with High School students all armed with their copies of the Tempest ready to “fact check” the actors’ ability to deliver their lines to the text book’s exacting standards. Ah, the school system, what better way to enrich these pudding headed accidents of failed birth control than to have them follow the performance word by word in a text book. I suppose it was appropriate as in their future employment they would then be equipped to pose the question, “To flip the burger or not to flip the burger; that is the question”. I will pose this question regarding the education system. When a student excels we credit their teachers, however, when a student performs poorly in school where should we lay the blame? Of course, with a malfunctioning condom! Back to the play, as the play is the thing. Mr. Hutt was the first actor to insist that he perform using the English language commonly spoken by Canadians. It was most amusing to see the students flipping pages back and forth looking for the lines spoken by Mr. Hutt. Don’t worry little ones that beeping in the back of your head, indicating that the fries are done, is simply your future calling you. Before you comment on my gibes at the burger joints I was there both on the grill and the front row at Stratford trying to follow along with the play Midsummer Night’s Dream. Man, what was Bill Shakespeare on when he wrote that play; he must have been smoking some pretty righteous weed. To close this series of rants I will reaffirm that I am indeed an expert, as long as you don’t read ahead of me in the manual. Expertise is such a fleeting and very subjective state. Regards Brian By the way, did you catch my intentional error? I used “astrological” in place of “astronomical”. One is the study of the planets and stars; the other is right up there with the study of sugar plum fairies and unicorns pooping marshmallows. In keeping with today’s political correctness and a check of the forum’s rules I realized that astronomy may in fact be held by some to the degree of a religion. With that in mind I apologize if anyone was offended by my comments. Also I am led to believe that if you consider yourself a “sugar plum fairy” that it is an acceptable life style choice and again I apologize for any offence I may have unintentionally given. It’s an age thing and I must admit to having not kept up with today’s trends. I would ask that anyone, sugar plum fairy or otherwise, please carry an empty marshmallow bag and clean up after your unicorn, their droppings tend to gum up my lawnmower. As to unicorns, I have nothing against them in the wild or domesticated, just clean up after your tame ones. See photos below for clarification.
  11. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Bent and broken Sword Blades Bent Blades During the time of the Indian Mutiny (1857) there was a great many reports of British swords failing in battle. These, I believe, were the Pattern 1853 and in some cases the Pattern 1821 Cavalry Sabre which was in use at the time. These failures were in the nature of broken and bent blades in addition to the more common complaint of failing to cut as covered in an earlier post. As a thrusting sword the Pattern 1853 tends to flex a bit too much to be an effective thrust centric weapon. Upon contact with an enemy wearing a thick coat and perhaps several layers of clothing the blade will bow rather than remaining straight as would a stiffer blade, such as the later Pattern 1908 Cavalry Sabre. This could result in breakage or severe bending of the blade; a bend that may very well remain until time allowed the trooper to straighten the weapon. Of course in the heat of battle a severely bent blade could well result in the death of the trooper. All Pattern 1853 blades would certainly bend and any blade that would bend had the potential to break if stressed beyond the tolerance point. As I have mentioned before, any sword blade can bend or break given the correct circumstances. Even the highly praised tulwar used by the mutineers was noted to have bent from time to time. If one takes into account the number of bent British blades compared to bent tulwars as the determining factor as to the quality of British blades then you have missed one important fact. Tulwars were only designed to cut and even though it could be argued that it is technically possible to thrust with the tulwar it is extremely difficult. This is evident upon simply looking at the sword and the direction the tip would be pointing if the tulwar was used to thrust. The British Pattern 1853 was designed as a cut and thrust weapon. The British trooper was encouraged to employ the thrust over the cut, and in the case of the blocking of the enemy’s cut followed by a thrust, the blade if it failed to penetrate the target could very well flex and therefore possibly develop a bend. This is magnified if the trooper was on the gallop and using his sabre in the same manner as a lance, upon giving point, failure to puncture through thick clothing cold very well bend or break the blade. A good deal of this, penetration or deflection, depended upon hitting the target at as close to 90° as possible. Catching the side of the target would increase the chances of blade failure. Another failure of the 1853 sabre was the handle, or grip, which was circular or round in cross section. This made “indexing” the blade, that is to say keeping the sharp edge of the blade in a forward position, more difficult. The proceeding sabre, the Pattern 1821, had a grip that was more oval in cross section. A practical example of this can be found in any kitchen, the butcher’s knife. Using the butcher’s knife or any kitchen knife would be most difficult if the handle was a cylinder, especially if the hand were slippery. There are several reports of troopers’ hands becoming so raw from the use of the sabre that their palms would bleed making the indexing very difficult, if not impossible. The cavalry trooper of the 19th century did not wear gauntlets as did their predecessors of the 17th and early 18th centuries. This problem was taken into account in later patterns of British cavalry sabres with the introduction, or I should say the re-introduction, of the oval cross section grip. Another problem mentioned in an earlier article was sharpness. A dull blade will cut into a body even if the sword strikes the target while the blade is not indexed properly. A dull blade will not cut into the target and tends to twist in the trooper’s hand. This causes the sword to strike on the flat increasing the potential for the blade to bend or even break. My earlier post suggested that the cause of dull blades was the use of a steel scabbard and the rocking motion of the horse would grind the sharp edge against the inside of the steel scabbard continually dulling the edge. Some good accounts are given in the book “Waterloo Voices 1815”, by Martyn Beardsley from letters written by the soldiers who were there, that tells of having their swords sharpened and then boarding ships bound for French ports and the eventual Battle of Waterloo; I will touch on this point a bit later on. An example taken from the book noted above attests to the sharpness of the British swords at Waterloo. “Anonymous account, Shaw in the Horse Guards, of pugilistic fame, was fighting seven or eight hours, dealing destruction all around him; at one time he was attacked by six of the French Imperial Guard, four of whom he killed, but at last fell by the remaining two. A comrade who was beside him a great part of the day, and who is the relater of this anecdote, noticed one particular cut, which drove through his opponent’s helmet, and with it cut nearly the whole of his face at the stroke”. This shows the sharpness of the British Pattern 1796 Cavalry Sabre used during the Battle of Waterloo, not present in many of the cavalry swords of the 1857 Indian Mutiny period. The reason for the difference is, I believe, in the mention earlier of getting the sabres sharpened in England and then directly boarding ships bound for the continent. This eliminated the long horse rides to the battle site as would have had to be endured during most of the actions in 1857. Had the sabres of the Mutiny been sharpened and then used shortly thereafter I believe the question of dull and even poor quality blades would have been nearly moot. The images below showing the Indian tulwar and the Pattern 1853 cavalry sabre indicates the direction of thrust (yard stick) through the grip to the target. As can be seen the tulwar’s point is well away from the line of thrust. It could be argued that the tulwar could be used in a curving motion to deliver the point into the target but this would be most effective if the target had just passed by and the Indian Mutineer was attempting to strike the British trooper in the back, as happened from time to time. The point of this is to say that the Tulwar is a cutting weapon and not a thrusting one as is the British Pattern 1853.
  12. The 1926 General Strike Due to the First World War there had been a great demand for coal in the United Kingdom to fuel the war materials industries. This resulted in a depletion of the rich coal deposits that had supplied the UK so well for many years. During the War exports of coal from the UK dropped resulting in a void that was quickly filled by other countries such as the United States, Poland and Germany. As coal prices continued to fall, in the post War years, Germany was allowed to re-enter the international coal market and started to export “free coal” as part of their reparations for the Great War. These German exports further hurt the export of coal from the UK and profits dwindled even further. In a move to buoy up profits the mine owners decided to lower the miners’ wages and extend the hours of work. The result was that on 4 May, 1926 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) called for a General Strike with the intention of forcing the British government to take action to prevent wage reductions and help the 800,000 locked out coal miners. This resulted in 1.7 million workers walking off the job and joining the strike. As the strike gained momentum people both in the government and the TUC itself feared that the General Strike could escalate into a wide spread revolution. King George V took exception to this suggestion of “revolutionaries” and said, “Try living on their wages before you judge them”. The TUC made a statement in an effort to ease the tension the public might be feeling in regard to such a wide-spread action and allegations that there were revolutionary elements in the trade unions, “We are not making war on the people. We are anxious that the ordinary members of the public shall not be penalized for the unpatriotic conduct of the mine owners and the government”. In a cautionary move the government put in place a militia of special constables called the Organization for the Maintenance of Supplies (OMS). Their purpose was to maintain the peace on the streets. There was intervention on a couple of occasions by the army; however, it was decided in a move to prevent escalation of violence, that the soldiers were to be unarmed. On 7 May, 1926 the TUC met with government representatives to work out a set of proposals to end the strike. On 12 May, 1926, nine days after the strike had been called, the TUC announced its decision to call off the strike. The end result was that many men were not called back to work as the government had stated that they did not have the authority to force the mine owners to employ all of their former employees. Those who were called back did so at lower wages and longer hours, which was the original intention of the mine owners. This was the only general strike in the history of Brittan and many trade unionists felt it had been a mistake, opting for political and legal resolutions in the future. Those OMS special constables were relieved of their duties later in the month of May and today we have certificates of appreciation issued to those Special Constables as lasting artifacts of The General Strike of 1926. Regards Brian
  13. Thanks for sharing this with us Peter, it is a first for me as well, Simon. Regards Brian
  14. Hi Dave, I think these were common to many police services through the WWI and WWII period. Most of the ones in my collection have the stripes running horizontal with a couple running vertically like the one you show above. I also have one with red and white stripes and it is for a Special Constable Inspector. I like to think the ones like yours and the especially the Inspector's one I have are to the Met, but that may only be wishful thinking as I have no proof to base a solid opinion; and we both know that would not hold up in court. I have some photos (somewhere) of these being worn on civilian suits as the issue of so many uniforms during the war years to all of the new SC's would have been expensive. Regards Brian
  15. That 100 lot may be Mervyn's cousin, Roy (if my memory serves me well), selling off the estate assets. I think it would be a good idea to contact that seller to see if he would sell you one copy. I would offer to sell you mine but I would have to have $1,000,000. to let it go. While not worth a million it is very worth while owning one. Regards Brian