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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. It has been a week since Remembrance Day and I still see people wearing their poppy, the symbol of remembrance, on their jackets, coats, hats and even toques. The poppy is to be worn from November 1st until 11:00 o’clock November 11th at which time it is to be left at the cenotaph or at least removed from your apparel. To be without a poppy from Nov. 1 to Nov. 11, for me, would be the same as being out of uniform for a service person. Of course no RSM will ream you out and I’m not allowed to do so, such is the pity of that, still there is a protocol that should be followed. One could use the excuse that you honour the fallen or those who served and are still serving all year long and that is why you are wearing the poppy long after the 11th. To that I will call “BS”. If you mean to say that every morning that you get out of bed, or not, you remember those who served then, unless yours is a recent loss of a loved one, you really need to get a life. Seeing a poppy worn weeks or months after Remembrance Day, at times even on the right lapel of a coat, makes me think that person is either the laziest person around or just completely insensitive. Following protocol honours those who served and serve as much as actually wearing the flower in the first place. I’ve seen some old farmers wearing the poppy on the side of what can only be called their “barn hat” due to the layers of filth that has accumulated there over the years. The red poppy is no longer even a shade of true red, more of a reddish brown. Oh, that certainly honours the service people; perhaps you could have some poppy patterned facial tissues or bathroom tissues made up so you can honour them all the day long, everywhere you go. True, I may have crossed the line with that last sentence however in my mind no more than continuing to wear a symbol of remembrance at the incorrect time of the year. I often wonder if extended wearing of the poppy is more a matter of a display sanctimonious self-rightness than one of respect; “Oh look at me aren’t I the pious one”. In my time I have known veterans from the Boer War, WWI, WWII and the Korean War and I never got the impression from any of them that they expected or wanted to be made a fuss over all year long. Ass kissing was never an agenda of theirs and never expected from others. Each year my wife and I attend the local cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremonies, even though neither of us still lives in our respective home towns. After the ceremony we leave our poppies on the cenotaph, returning home, usually in complete silence, deeply moved by the reverence shown by our fellow attendees and the thoughts of the sacrifice made by others, and perhaps magnified by the lone piper playing Amazing Grace. In closing, if this blog has hit a nerve, made you angry, made you think or just made me look like the pompous ass that I am, and then it was purpose served. I will not apologise for your failure to follow protocol and will sign off with this note; Get With the Program People! Regards Brian
  2. Brian Wolfe

    Present 100 Years Ago - 1918

    Thanks for your comment. Certainly not many pieces in mint condition. if any, in my collection; veterans all. Regards Brian
  3. Brian Wolfe

    Present 100 Years Ago - 1918

    In apologise that I could not post an image of the whole rifle as I am still learning this new version of Photo Shop I purchased with the new PC. There is just enough differences to produce a new learning curve. It worked! . Regards Brian
  4. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Priceless! Thanks for that one, Michael. Regards Brian
  5. Hello and welcome to my blog which may start out insulting some and to that I will apologize in advance as insult is not my intention; a serendipitous plus perhaps... Four years ago (2014) the Chairman suggested that starting with August and continuing to Nov. 11, 2018 might be an excellent time to run articles and content dealing with the First World War. From what I can see there has been little effort in that area, though I will admit to two factors. First that I was away for some time fighting an ongoing medical “condition” that has, happily for me, gone into remission. Secondly, my main interest rests with the Victorian Period and just prior, that is to say from George III to the end of the Boer War in 1902. So my WWI material, other than medals, is limited. I offer this glimpse into “The Life of Brian”, the non-movie version, to suggest that perhaps there was a lot more WWI content during the past four years than I was aware. If you could have written more but just didn’t and cannot offer an acceptable excuse, such as I have, to cover your laziness, then think again. If I can dig up an alibi then so can you, you’re just not trying hard enough. Seriously, as that last statement was purely in jest, I have an artefact in my collection that I have been waiting patiently for the past four year to post. If I may digress for a moment I need to explain something else, an admission, to some small degree, of my compulsive obsessions, and that is the criteria I like to apply to as many collectables as possible. I like to collect firearms that have a manufactured date that commemorates an historical even. As an example of my criteria, I have a British percussion pistol dated 1842. During the retreat from Kabul in 1842 there occurred the Battle of Gandamak in which most of the British defenders of the position were killed. There is a famous painting showing an officer with the same pattern pistol. While the pistol in my collection was never used at that battle, or not likely any battle for that matter, it still has a date that commemorates the events as well as being an example of the type of pistol used during that time. The specimen I have so long wanted to post is a Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) Mk.III* date marked 1918. The specimen certainly has the “look” of war-time use and the date made me decide to make the purchase, nearly ten years ago. I could have purchased a better condition SMLE, that is certain, but I purchased this rifle for the significant date of 1918. Since the purchase, and just prior to 2014, I read an article that stated that many of the rifles that were in the trenches at the moment of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918 were marked with the letter V by the soldiers who were present. I recalled what appeared to be an “odd” damaged area on the stock of my SMLE example and when I looked at it again, this time more closely, there was the letter V clearly carved into the stock. It looks to have been done a long time ago, though one can never prove it and the whole story of the carved V nothing more than urban legend, still there it is on my example. Provenance is a strange beast. Many offer word of mouth provenance and expect that to stand, others doubt even the most detailed documentation. The “experts” are only giving what should be an educated opinion and even if they document their opinion it boils down to just that, an opinion. I have no provenance to say that the V is original to the trenches on Nov. 11, 1918. I will say that there was no “story” to this rifle offered by the seller, like me I do not think he had even heard of the story. Bottom line is that I never, and I repeat, never pay a dime more for a “story” and of course neither should you. So where does this leave us? On November 11, 2018 I will pick up this rifle and think of that soldier who may very well have held this firearm in his hands, in the trenches, at the very moment the Great War ended. Is “it”, did “he”? No one can tell for a certainty but what I can tell you, for me, is that it brings to life the struggle, suffering, terror and loss of comrades that lesser men such as this humble scribe cannot even begin to fully appreciate. What was going through the mind of our hero as he sat in his trench, still half doubting that the war was finally over, with this rifle across his knees as he carved the V into the stock? That degree of relief and the pent up emotions must have been truly over-whelming. Let us all lift glasses to those who served, those who fell and those who still serve and give a moment’s reverent thought to them all. Respectfully yours, Brian Wolfe
  6. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Hi JustinG, I meant to respond to your Latin phrase "Qui novit omnia" then got distracted, it's a age thing. To answer your rhetorical question, that would be my ex-wife and scares the heck out of me. Regards Brian
  7. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    Hi Stuart, Thanks for your comment and compliment, it is appreciated (your cheque is in the mail). As a note to new members who might not know, Stuart and I have been long time friends, though from opposite sides of the earth so he really isn't expecting a cheque; yep I'm that cheap. I'm sure the distance between us has prevented him from strangling me at times, I can be annoying, or so I have been told by those who don't really matter. I think it is important not to get too distracted and thereby let those in power get away with whatever it is that they might be getting away with. How's that for a veiled non-committal political comment? Maybe I should enter politics. Thanks again, Stuart. Regards Brian
  8. Hi Larks, Richard Dellar's book is excellent with several photos of scabbard and sword markings. Keep in mind this book deals only with Cavalry Swords. If you are thinking of collecting infantry or other department's swords (artillery for example) these will not be covered in this excellent resource. Brian Robson as well as Harvey Whithers' books cover all aspects of the British sword, including cavalry and infantry. Both of these books are excellent with Whithers' book containing excellent photographs. Brian Robson's book contains a good number of markings but that are in the form written lists. It all depends on what style you lake best; both are exceptional resources. If you ever want to branch out into British naval swords and would like a book dealing only with these a good book is British Naval Swords & Swordsmanship by John McGrath & Mark Barton. This book is also currently available. I don't actually collect naval swords but I picked up a Pattern 1900 Naval Cutlass a while ago and knew right off that this would not be the last naval sword I would collect so I purchased the book. No regrets there. Happy collecting, and the researching of your finds. Keep us posted. Regards Brian
  9. Here is a list of books I would recommend. Listed from the personally most referred to starting at the top, but all are very good books. I could list more but these are the best in their field. All are currently available. Swords of the British Army, Brian Robson British Military Swords, Harvey Whithers also look for books by the author on specific swords such as the 1796 Light and Heavy Cavalry The British Cavalry Sword 1788 - 1912, Richard Dellar Mr. Dellar tells me there is a companion book coming out later this year. The British Pattern 1796 Cavalry Sword and Other Derivatives, Janusz Jaroslawski The British Cavalry Sword from 1600, Charles Martyn Regards Brian
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. Brian Wolfe

    Yes, I am an Expert.

    Good one. Regards Brian
  14. 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.
  15. 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