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Brian Wolfe

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About Brian Wolfe

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    Senior Moderator

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    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. ...and another thing. Where is my memory today? If you read the first part of this tutorial you will recall that I suggested that before you drill the hole it might be a good idea to insert a thin piece of wood where the menu would normally be before you drill to prevent splitting or cracking of the Plexiglas. I did this to prove it would work and it did. This may be hard for those without a shop full of thin scrap but you can sand the piece (after cutting it as thin as possible) on a belt sander. I had to do this as my planner will not plane that thin. I think I have recalled everything now. Regards Brian
  2. Today I decided to finish this project with the modifying the second menu holder to support the scabbard. The only difference in procedure from the first part of this tutorial is in the size of the hole you will need to drill and therefore the resultant slot. I drilled a ¾ inch hole as that accommodates all of the swords I might want to photograph. With the exception of my oldest (c.1650) Japanese sword scabbards, they could use a hole of 1 inch in diameter. For this post we are dealing with British and probably most European weapons. I have included a photo of the sword in its scabbard to show how this looks if you decide to just use the stand to display a sword in its scabbard. The sword alone is sitting on a 4 inch deep box under the red fabric to elevate it above the scabbard and that seems to be about right for any posting I (or you) might want to make. The sword displayed is one of my prized specimens and is a Pattern 1822 Canadian Artillery Officer’s sword. I didn’t show the engraving on the blade which is very nice because we are only talking about the photographing or displaying of the whole sword; any sword would have done, I just wanted to “play” with this one today. I hope you, or your woodworking friend, will try this project as I think it really works well. Regards Brian Oops, I hate it when I resize a photo twice! I'll try again with the sword above the scabbard, to save your eyes. Regards Brian
  3. Brian Wolfe

    On Writing With Clarity

    Thank you for your kind comments Patrick and welcome back to the forum. Regards Brian
  4. Morally? Not really a question of morals in my opinion, more a question of do you see preserving the whole family history or just that time period he served as important? I have boxes and boxes of material from one family that has photos from the late 1800's until around the 1960's most of which is not military related, some WWI and WWII but not the majority. I felt and still feel that I am obligated by the unwritten rule for historians, amateur or professional, to keep the material together. After all I am now the keeper of this family's history. Back to my original point, a man should not be defined by his military service alone so all of your album, in a way, is the history of that soldier. I've known you for a long time now, Chris, and I see you as more than just your time served and your collecting hobby; I see you as a devoted family man as well. Bottom line is that it is your decision and yours alone, but I thought I would add my humble opinion. Regards Brian
  5. Do it yourself Plexiglas edged weapon display stand. First: Do not try this at home, I am a professional. Seriously, if you are nervous around very sharp blades spinning at extremely high speed with no guards it would be better to ask a woodworking friend to help with this project. I’ve worked around woodworking machines most of my life and something new such as this project always makes me extra cautious. Second: If you are going to do this yourself best to do so when your doctor’s office is open (bad joke but truer than you might think). I do quite a bit of photography of swords for different articles both here on GMIC and for other publications and have wanted a good stand that didn’t appear so obvious, such as ones made of wood, for quite a while now. My so-called photo studio is purely amateur but with a little patience I manage some fairly good images. A friend of mine suggested stands made from Plexiglas but this involved experimenting with bending the material and just a little too much heat and the project is ruined. While at the local stationary store I found pre-made stands that are used for things such as restaurant menus on their tables and thought that perhaps with some modification these might serve my purposes. Obviously they did and therefore I wanted to share this with you. You, or your woodworker friend, will need a table saw with a carbide blade and a drill press with a ¼ inch Forstner bit. I use an industrial carbide rip blade for everything except when I need a narrower cut, almost all woodworkers will be using carbide tipped blades and usually the narrower cross cut blade (which would be better). The Fostner bit is essential as other bits will most likely crack the Plexiglas when drilling the hole. Just Google Forstner bit to see what they look like if you don’t already know. Warning: Do not attempt this project with a circular saw, e.g. “Skill Saw” or a hand drill! The menu holders are 5 inches wide so you will need to cut one down the middle to produce two equal (more or less – not that important) halves. Set the fence on the table saw at 2½ inches (measure from the fence to the middle of the saw blade). First you will need to cut the base of the stand. Do this by keeping the stand’s edge against the saw’s fence and the blade just high enough to cut through the stand’s base. Don’t worry about the rest of the stand, (that should be in a vertical position at this time), this we will cut later. Now run the base through the saw using a piece of wood – NOT YOUR FINGERS- to push the stand base. Use a long enough piece of wood so that you can cut all the way through the stand. Don’t try to stop just at the moment the Plexiglas is cut in two otherwise the piece between the blade and the fence will bind and shatter. Next you will need to cut the main section which is double thickness in order to hold a menu. Use a piece of 2 x 4 under the stand so that the base is supported off the saw table. Make sure you have a long piece of 2 X 4 as you want to keep those fingers where they belong, on your hand not on the floor. This may sound like obvious advice but even though I have a lot of experience in the shop I could, if you were here, show you a couple of blood trails on the floor from minor mishaps. Remember that thing about working in the shop when the doctor’s office is open? I’ve been there so often that they are considering a frequent customer discount! Feed the stand through the saw base first (remember you have already cut the base) this will allow the stand’s base to keep the stand from being pushed back toward you as you cut. Once you have made this last cut well past the Plexiglas stand you are ready to drill the hole. Don’t throw away that 2 X 4 as you are going to need it later. Mark out where you want the hole which will be at the bottom of the slot you will be cutting later using that 2 X 4 again. I measured ¾ inch down from the top as that is sufficient for any sword I might want to display. I got a little cracking around the hole even with using the Forstner bit but it doesn’t show when you are displaying the sword. I think this cracking occurred because there is a space between the two halves of the stand. If I were making a lot of these I would probably plane a piece of wood down that would fit between the two Plexiglas halves so as to support them, thereby eliminating any cracking. Now you have the holes drilled go back to the saw, use a shorter 2 X 4 this time as support and while keeping the 2 X 4 against the saw fence “eyeball” the cut you are making so that the cut ends in such a way to leave a slot the width of the hole. The base should be toward you this time as you are cutting in from the top rather than from the base end. You’ll have to make two cuts to get the slot wide enough. Now you are finished except there will be some rough edges where the cuts were made but this can be easily removed with a pocket knife. I didn’t sand and polished the cut edge as I used them with the factory edge facing the camera, or if you were going to use this to display a weapon the camera would be the viewer’s eyes. I will be making another stand for the scabbards and photograph the two together with the sword elevated above the scabbard. If you intend to display a sword in the scabbard then simply measure the scabbard and make the slots fit that dimension, usually around ¾ of an inch. For heavy items such as a rifle I would use thicker Plexiglas and heat-bend it so that if forms a long “U” shape, sort of like “] “when standing on its end. The advantage of using two stands on the lighter items for photographing is that you can turn each stand slightly so that the camera “sees” only the edge of the stand. A one piece stand will show more of the support “columns” in a photograph. I have not shown a lot of photos so if there are any questions please feel free to PM me or email me at brian.wolfe@bell.net and I will be happy to assist you. Regards Brian
  6. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Final Analysis: In the final analysis how do the Patterns 1908 and 1912 fare? Many aspects of the cavalry had changed from the day of “cut and slash” swords to the final thrust centric 1908 and 1912. The heavy cavalry no longer existed as it was found that the use of cavalry itself became more akin to scouting, skirmishing or harassing the enemy and mounted infantry roles. With the implementation of trench warfare with its barbed wire entanglements, high rate of fire machine guns, improved accuracy of bolt-action rifles, massed artillery and finally areal strafing and bombing the open spaces needed for cavalry manoeuvring disappeared. However, in the early days of the War (1914) while the war still fluid and after the stalemate of the static tactics of the trenches the cavalry and its Patterns 1908 and 1912 proved quite effective. Most notably for Canadians was the Cavalry charge at Moreuil Wood in 1918 (see sketch below). One of the more notable successes of cavalry employment in the Middle East was the charge at El Mughar against the Turkish troops by the 6th Mounted Brigade on 13 November 1917 (see painting at the beginning of this article). Had the battle fields of the First World War remained opened and tactics fluid one has to wonder if the last British Cavalry swords would have fared so well. With the advancement of rapid fire machine guns and accurate long range bolt action rifles along with properly trained troops in repelling cavalry quite possibly cavalry charges would have quickly become things of the past. Certainly even infantry in line and taught to volley fire at several hundred yards then independent fire at 200 to 150 yards would have devastated any attempt to rout an enemy with cavalry. Even discounting the use of field artillery and rapid firing machine guns this would have spelled doom for mounted troops. Britain’s last sword made its appearance at the end of an era; an era of glorious massed cavalry charges and mighty heroes. The long awaited pinnacle of cavalry swords was to die a quiet and unglorified death overshadowed by ignominious machines of mass destruction to fade into the shadows of history. The above photo is a depiction of a drawing depicting the Canadian Cavalry charge at Moreuil Wood 30 March 1918 Bibliography: The Berkshire Yeomanry Journal. “2017 Centenary Issue.” King, Edward A. “The Horse in Warfare” Kinsley, D. A. “Swordsmen of the British Empire.” McGrath, John & Barton, Mark. British Naval Swords & Swordsmanship. Robson, Brian. “Swords of the British Empire, Revised Edition.” Summers, Jack L., Chartand, Rene. “Military Uniforms in Canada 1665-1970.” Withers, Harvey. “British Military Swords 1786 – 1912 The Regulation Patterns.” Author: Brian Wolfe Ontario, Canada September 2018
  7. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    When the M.1913 is used to give point there is nothing except the thumb depression to stop the hand from sliding foreword and smashing into the back of the guard bowl. With any sword when giving point the blade seldom penetrates without resistance. First the point must go through clothing such as uniforms and perhaps a thick overcoat; there is then the matter of bone preventing easy penetration. All swords will flex to some degree when giving point. Experiments carried out for the purposes of this article using a dense foam sheet covered by two layers of terrycloth and affixed to a board gave the following results. With both swords of the same degree of sharpness at the point the British Pattern 1908 gave little flex and penetrated the material easily. The American Model 1913 flexed a great deal and had difficulty entering into the material. This high degree of flex in battle could very well result in bent or broken blades and possibly fail to deliver a fatal blow. As to the M.1913 being used as a slashing weapon it is my opinion that it lacks the blade weight of earlier cavalry specimens such as the British 1821 through to the Pattern 1899. The design of the M.1913 puts most of the weight at the grip making the blade feel quite light. This weight distribution is quite advantageous when considering the Pattern 1908 as it is a thrusting weapon and allows for easy movement and direction of the tip. The M.1913 grip is also too rectangular to be comfortable in sustained battle in the slashing mode. This could very well result in fatigue setting in during a prolonged mêlée. The British Pattern 1908 needs not meet any criteria as a slashing weapon as it is a dedicated thrusting weapon. Given the purpose of each specimen it would clearly appear that the Pattern 1908 Cavalry Sword is the superior weapon. Note the lack of forefinger support on the M. 1913 [foreground] below. Two Perspectives: From what has been written about the Pattern 1908 it would appear that there was a love hate relationship in the minds of those who have used the weapon in combat as well as those who came afterwards. Taking a quote from Brian Robson’s book, “Swords of the British Army”, revised edition, pg. 66, as a generalized opinion of the Pattern 1908 we find the following. “The Pattern 1908 sword was the last entirely new design to be adopted by the British Army and it has been regarded since its appearance as a masterpiece of design. It was without doubt the best sword ever produced for the British cavalry and probably for any cavalry but it is not difficult to understand the shock it created in conservative military circles, with its wicked, rapier-type blade and its pistol-shaped, plastic grip”. A differing point of view is given by Lt. Col. “Fritz” Wormald who fought at the Battle of Omdurman 1898. The quote starts with the battle and ends with the use of the Pattern 1912. “Lieutenant Wormald, of the 7th Hussars, engaged an Emir single handed and nearly came to grief. Delivering a terrific blow at the mail-clad warrior, the Lieutenant’s sword, striking against the chain armour, bent double, as though it were lead. But before the Emir could get his own sword home, Wormald hit him across the head with the bent sword and stunned him; and a Lancer, opportunely coming along, finished the chieftain.” According to another account, “Fritz” Wormald pursued the emir on horseback. “As he passed him, he dropped the point of his sword in the Emir’s back, a kidney thrust that ought to have been fatal. But the sword bent up and remained bent. Fritz then turned around and swiped him on the face, knocking him off his pony, and a lancer gave him the final thrust.” The Wilkinson Sword Company honored their guarantee by presenting Wormald with a new sword after he complained of the old one that “It won’t even go through a black man’s back”, but he evidently never used it. Instead (and ironically), according to Capt. & Adjt. C. E. Bryant, when Lt. Col. Wormald led a charge of the 12th Royal Lancers at Moy in 1914, he used a new Wilkinson thrusting sword (1912 Pattern), which buckled like an “S” and was wrenched out of his hand after transfixing a German. I [Bryant] was using the old cutting sword (1895 Pattern), well sharpened, which went in and out of [five] Germans like a pat of butter.” (Maj. Gen. John Vaughan, Cavalry and Sporting Memories, 1954; Ms. Copy. Priv. Coll.) Above quote is from D.A. Kinsley’s book, “Swordsmen of the British Empire, pg. 330 – 331. The above narrative by men, who were there, demonstrates some interesting details. First of all, the failure of two different patterns of swords, the first, possibly the Heavy Cavalry Officer’s Undress sword Pattern 1887, though undoubtedly a bladed cut and thrust weapon and then the Pattern 1912 Officer’s Cavalry sword, a dedicated thrusting weapon as used by Wormald; both made by Wilkinson. It would appear that the problem of bent swords, in this case, may have had more to do with poor technique in giving point from a mounted position than the quality of the swords. The fact that Bryant seems to find no problems with what he describes as the 1895 Pattern when applied to five similar targets, may fortify this assumption on my part. The second point evident from the quote is that while many sources suggest (hint?) that any cavalry units using earlier sword patterns, as in the case of the Guards units, were issued the Pattern 1912 Cavalry sword when on duty overseas. In the case cited it is obvious this was not always the case, or at least not always followed.
  8. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    The American Model 1913: The Americans introduced their version of the “modern” cavalry sword with the Model 1913 designed by George S. Patton. It is not a slavish copy of the British 1908 but it is easy to see that it was heavily influenced, especially considering the Americans were testing the British 1908 to see if it would suit their needs at that time. The main difference between the two is that the British “sword” is a dedicated thrusting weapon, or estoc, while the American M.1913 has a double edged blade running the full length from ricasso to tip. This was a true sword and designed for the “old” cut and thrust style of fighting. Both swords have a large bowl guard made from one sheet of steel, however the grips differ considerably. The American M.1913 grip has a metal back piece with plastic inserts for grips; the British Pattern 1908 is made entirely of a plastic substance. The American sword has the thumb depression, same as the British sword, however there is no forefinger stop. The thumb depression and the shape of the grips on both swords allows for easy “indexing”, making the swords easily maintained in the correct position during use. A better view of the American Model 1913.
  9. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    The Pattern 1912 In 1912 an almost identical sword was introduced for the officers. The differences being an engraved bowl in the familiar honeysuckle pattern used on previous officers’ swords and a wood and fish skin covered grip bound with seventeen bands of twisted silver wire. Two scabbards were introduced, a leather covered wooden scabbard for use with the Sam Browne system and a plated steel scabbard with two loose rings for wear in Full Dress. Some but not all blades were etched and decorated.
  10. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    The new Pattern 1908 not only offered better hand protection but the grip, now made of plastic, was changed to a pistol-grip style including a thumb depression which allowed the sword to be brought into the correct position upon drawing it from the scabbard. The grip was very comfortable in the hand and the index finger rested against a rectangular piece, built into the grip, which along with the thumb depression prevented the hand from being crushed into the guard bowl upon impact when giving point. The approximately 42 inch length along with the trooper’s arm in out stretched form during a charge allowed the sword to act as well as the lance it was meant to replace. Variations are few, the Indian pattern being the most prominent with a smaller guard bowl and grip, supposedly for the smaller hand of the Indian troopers. The grip was initially made of walnut but due to the expense of this type of wood later model grips were made of dermatine, a type of early plastic. This “Indian pattern” was not as well balanced as the Pattern 1908 issued to British troops possibly due to the reduced grip and bowl size which would change the balance of the overall sword. A rare variation of the 1908 [shown below] was one where the bowl and scabbard were completely encased in leather. This was done to prevent glare from the sun giving away the position of the troops in the Eastern areas of the world. During WWI the 1908 was painted khaki or green. Pictured below is a trooper of the 16th Canadian Light Horse 1905-1936 showing the Pattern 1908 affixed to the saddle of his horse. Officers carried their swords suspended from the Sam Browne suspension system.
  11. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    This is a copy of a painting depicting the charge at El Mughar by the 6th Mounted Brigade comprising the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Dorset Yeomanry regiments, supported by the Berkshire RHA on 13 November 1917, by J. P. Beadle. This was one of the last actions that saw the use of the 1908 and 1912 [officer's pattern] Cavalry Sabre. This image is in my collection and was a gift from the Berkshire Yeomanry, special thanks to Stuart Bates for making this possible.
  12. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Sorry about no photo above. I thought I could cut and past the article, first the text then the photos but I can't so I am going to retake all of the photos since I own all of the images. This first sword is the 1908 issued for WWI as can be noted by the green painted hand guard. It is stamped to the Royal Horse Guards.
  13. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Britain' Last Sword This is the first of a series of submissions that will make up the complete article I submitted to a publications so please "stay tuned" as I cut and paste. Britain’s Last Sword Patterns 1908 and 1912 British Cavalry Sword. Background: The first time a specific design, or “pattern”, was made mandatory for use by the British Cavalry throughout the whole of the Empire was with the Patterns 1788 Heavy Cavalry Sword and Light Cavalry Sabre. Prior to this the equipping of the individual regiments was the responsibility of their colonels, usually a general officer, who used his own discretion as to uniform and weapon design. The Pattern 1788 was soon replaced by the now iconic Pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword and Light Cavalry Sabre. The 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword was a slightly heavier straight bladed sword, at 2 lbs. 6 oz., while the Light Cavalry was issued with the lighter (2 lbs. 2 oz.) curved sabre. It was during this general time (Napoleonic Wars) that it was noted that the slashing cut, especially with the sabre, produced less mortal wounds than did the thrust, also known as “giving point”. Indeed the statistics of the time showed a higher rate of mortality by sword in the British and allied troops as opposed to the French troops. Napoleon himself is reputed to have told his cavalry troops, “Ne sabrez pas! Pointez! Pointez!” [“No sabring! Give point! Give point!”]. While this flies in the face of later thinking, that being a wounded soldier consumes more resources and has a greater negative effect on a nation than a dead soldier, the British became obsessed in finding the perfect cavalry sword. This can also be said of the Infantry sword. The Pattern 1803 being very curved and sabre-like as compared with the last Pattern, the 1897, with its dumb-bell shaped cross section blade and spear point; an obviously thrust centric weapon. It would seem an easy task to design a straight sword that was used extensively for giving point, lacking a blade that could be sharpened, as well as providing better sword hand protection, which the 1796 sword and sabre sorely lacked. The introduction of the Pattern 1821 provided better hand protection but retained a slightly curved blade; it was supposed to be the best of both worlds of cut and thrust. This design continued, with better hand protection, yet virtually the same blade style up to the Pattern 1899 Cavalry Sabre. What caused this painfully slow evolution in sword blade design? The answer may be found in what has been reported as a natural reflex of the human in close combat to strike at an opponent rather than attempting to use a stabbing motion. In situations such as had been experienced during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1854 a mêlée at close quarters rendered the lance and therefore a dedicated thrust centric sword most ineffective. As an example of close-quarter combat there have been several incidents recorded that after a sword had broken at the guard the trooper used the hand guard to punch his opponents much in the same manner as using a brass knuckles. In several cases after the battle the sword grip and guard had to be cut from around the trooper’s hand by the regimental armourer as it has deformed to such an extent that it entrapped the appendage. After over 100 years of British sword evolution the Pattern 1908 cavalry sword was introduced. The new hand guard was a vast improvement over preceding patterns and the straight blade with its thrusting point was to make this the premier British sword. Technically this was not a sabre or a sword but an “estoc”, as it lacks any cutting edge and is purely a thrusting weapon. Even though this was the most advanced design to date it was not well accepted by everyone. King Edward VII called it “hideous” and could not understand why there was a need for a purely thrusting weapon. A high level deputation explained the need to His Royal Highness, after which he gave it Royal approval. He obviously felt strongly enough regarding his first opinion of the Pattern 1908 that he stipulated that the Household Cavalry was to retain their existing swords (Household Cavalry Pattern 1892, Mk II) for ceremonial purposes and carrying the new Pattern 1908 only while on active service. Doc2.docx
  14. Brian Wolfe

    Ancient Halberd

    Hello gabatgh, From what I have found this is most likely an English bill, mid 15th century, as per [European Edged Weapons, T. Wise, pg. 33] I doubt that the missing piece was for any dating process, [though Mike is NOT suggesting that at all], wood is a much easier material to carbon date. The other point against any test damage is that these are fairly easy to identify by museums and those who specialise in such weapons. Maker's mark or possibly the ownership mark is something that could narrow down specific details. I would suggest approaching a museum that has a specialist in 15th century arms and armour on staff. Don't bother with local small museums who usually deal with local history as they are a waste of time when it comes to these. Please keep the members updated in whatever you find out about this interesting weapon and I will continue to look through other books I have on early weapons to see if that mark shows up in other specimens that might be featured. Good luck and thanks for sharing this piece with us. Regards Brian
  15. Brian Wolfe

    On Writing With Clarity

    I would suggest a Google search. I did a search for chicken and dumplings today as I wanted to make it this coming week and my wife said, "Really? You had to look it up?" Yep, if I can't burn it on the BBQ then I'm lost. Regards Brian