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Brian Wolfe

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Everything posted by Brian Wolfe

  1. Thanks for sharing this with us Peter, it is a first for me as well, Simon. Regards Brian
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    Hi Laurentide, Thank you for your comments. Actually I don’t really care abut what the sports players get paid. They are providing a service in the form of entertainment and encourage our youth to get out of the house and get involved with others. How do you put a price on that. I actually just put that comment in to get a response. Thanks again for your comments that are appreciated Regards Brian Hi Laurentius, Sorry l misspelled your name above I am using my IPad and it keeps changing some spellings Regards Brian
  5. Brian Wolfe

    All of My Heroes Are Dead

    All of My Heroes Are Dead All of my heroes are dead and I have, for the most part, killed them. I’ve never been one to hero worship sports figures, those over paid adolescent jocks who actually think their political, environmental and economic opinions matter. I find it strange that someone who hits a small ball with a baseball stick sending it over a fence then running around a diamond shape track stepping on pillows laying in the dirt is paid more than someone who will possibly be saving your life after a heart attack, a police officer or firefighter who protects you, your loved ones and your stuff or takes up arms to defend your way of life. I’ve seen the advertisements for the Fifa world cup which involves grown men again running around a field this time kicking a small white basketball and trying to get it into an extra large hockey net without using their hands. The ball catcher/stopper fellow never seems to stop the ball, as far as I see in the commercials, and makes a futile dive in the relative direction of the ball, missing it by yards (or meters). Then the fellow who kicked the ball last is mobbed by his team mates in jubilation. What’s with that! The net is the size of a school bus, how could you possibly miss? At least in the game of ice hockey the net minder is almost as wide as the target net. Often the net minder will fall on top of the hard rubber disk thing, which substitutes for a ball, to stop a score from being recorded against him. Then the other team members who are close by will poke the goal tender with their curved bladed hockey spears until the referee, dressed in a zebra-like black and white striped shirt blows his whistle. This is a signal that it is time for fisticuffs between the two teams. Sometimes the extra players the teams have brought along are allowed to leap over the fence, behind which they were sitting, onto the ice and join in the melee. After this some of the team members from both sides are given a “time out” and must sit on a wooden bench with the fellows they brought along to watch the game while their little friends get to continue playing. It’s all very confusing. These are great games for children but for adults, who often throw tantrums much like spoiled brats, it seems ludicrous to me. I have stated that all of my heroes are dead, true enough, but I didn’t actually kill them (figuratively) myself; the culprit was the truth. The other factor, for the most part, is that my interest lies with the Victorian era or more precisely starting with the Napoleonic Wars (pre Victorian) until the end of the Boer War (post Victorian). Therefore, of course my heroes are all truly dead in that sense. It is not always the truth that “kills” heroes, or more accurately hero worship of historical figures. A WWI Canadian hero, for me growing up, had always been Billy Bishop, the WWI leading flying ace. A number of years ago there was a book written offering the mostly unfounded theory that he could not have actually shot down the number of enemy planes that he had claimed. It was pointed out by some that it was ironic that a German had authored the book discrediting an allied pilot. I have always thought it was ironic that a country that prides itself on its diversity would point out the nationality of the author. All of this prompted the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa to erect a notice with the Billy Bishop display pointing out that resent critics had doubted these accomplishments. Well done War Museum! As Canadians we seldom crap on our heroes but let someone else do it and we’ll be happy to take a stand were we don’t have to actually take a stand. We are positively and absolutely in support of taking a stand against taking a stand, unless that makes us look like we are taking a stand; then no comment. Or, “We’re totally against taking a stand against taking a stand, unless you are not upset, then we will strongly take a stand against not taking a stand”. Please fill out the questionnaire below and we will attempt to come to a consensus, as our opinions may change without prior notification. Thank you for your understanding, unless you don’t understand then we apologize for taking up your time. Have a good day, please call again. Then again if there are enough people who don’t like what the Canadian War Museum has to say with their displays, such as the bombing of civilian targets during WWII because it up sets the War Vets then they change it. To Hell with the truth if it means taking a stand and we’ll be quite clear in not taking a stand, because we are not for or against it. Facts are the facts and war is war, I would think the museum would have figured that out by now even if the public, desperate for heroes, wants to reject the truth. Your dad (and mine) didn’t go out to kill civilians! Here’s a shocking statement, neither did the German Airmen, in the beginning before Hitler decided to “punish” the British for bombing Berlin (arguments welcomed). There was no such thing as pin point bombing or taking out a target with surgical precision. You simply bombed the general area and trusted in a higher power to guide the explosives to the intended target. Heroes from the past seldom stand up to the scrutiny of time, the truth that was so carefully hidden suddenly shows these men for what they were; in most cases, human. The Duke of Wellington, Wolsey and Kitchener, all heroes of their day, or as a book I was just reading put it “Heroes in a time of heroes”, have had their darker sides. If we are to follow the Latin advice De mortuis nil nisi bonum (Of the dead, [say] nothing but good), we sacrifice the truth. If we are going to seek the truth then we must be prepared to live with what we find, no matter how distasteful. My heroes are still my heroes but now I see them as ordinary men doing extraordinary things that I would find personally impossible to accomplish. So let us lift a glass to the average man, among his kind have walked giants. Regards Brian
  6. Hello Everyone, Here are some Special Constabulary items from my collection. I'm not sure how long this will take to post so I'll just keep adding to this thread as I go. Please feel free to add your material as well and your comments are, as always, welcomed. The Special Constabulary was founded because so many police officers were signing up for military service in WWI that the authorities needed to fill the ranks. First up is a photo of a Special Constable in "uniform". Please note the armband as I will post a similar item later in this thread. I hope you like this thread and please do add to it. Regards Brian
  7. Brian Wolfe

    To The Point Part 2

    Staying Sharp. Not too long ago I was attending a Gun Show in our area and had just completed a negotiation for the purchase of a Pattern 1908 British Cavalry Sabre. The guard had “possibly” been repainted green in the same shade as the WWI models, though I see no indication that this is not the original paint job; some of these were green and some a khaki colour. The seller stated that it had been issued to the Fort Gary Horse (Canadian) which to his mind warranted a slightly higher price than one might normally expect. This example, I did agree, commanded a higher value but not for the reason he presented as the guard was stamped R.H.G. (Royal Horse Guard). As a shameless fan-boy of Victorian era military, anything marked to the Horse Guard is prized. “Hold on there sunshine”, you may be thinking, “haven’t you forgotten the dates of Victoria’s rein (1837-1901) or missed the fact that the sabre is a Pattern 1908?” The Pattern 1908 was in fact accepted into service by King Edward VII (1901 –1910), rather reluctantly according to some sources as he considered it a very ugly pattern compared to those patterns that came before. I considered this specimen a real treasure and therefore was prepared to pay a bit of a premium. For a change the lack of attention to detail was not mine and I came home with a treasure, in my opinion. Granted I could have pointed out that the stampings did not support his original claim with the intentions of negotiating a lower price, however, since he felt the sword commanded a premium price and I agreed, albeit for a different reason, therefore I feel no remorse at withholding the information. A case where Caveat emptor was somewhat reversed; Caveat venditor perhaps? The Household Cavalry and I believe Royal Horse Guards still use their Pattern 1892 Mk.II for ceremonial purposes, however during the WWI period they were issued the Pattern 1908 while on active service. By way of some explanation as to why, if I am so inclined to collect Victorian era black powder military firearms and swords, have I added the Pattern 1908 Cavalry troopers sabre and the Pattern 1912 Officer’s Cavalry sabre to the collection? My collection theme, and I do have one, (a method to my madness if you will), is that I like my collection to tell a story and yet not necessarily including every Pattern of sword or Mark and Number of every musket ever made. Therefore the Pattern 1908 and 1912 is the final chapter in the story of British Cavalry sabres. Also, I do collect in the “other direction” so the collection also has examples of weapons from George III, George IV, William IV as well as Victoria, a range from 1760 to 1901 or 1912 in the case of the last cavalry (Officer’s) pattern. I find it interesting that the Patterns still in use today by Officers, though for ceremonial purposes only, end with the Victorian Patterns. One exception that I am aware of is the use of the Pattern 1908 by Canada’s R.C.M.P. in their world famous Musical Ride. Now, finding one marked to the R.C.M.P. would be a banner day indeed. After I had secured the sword I slipped it into what is called a “rifle or gun sock” for transport around the balance of the show. My reasons for this, other than treating the sword with respect and protecting it from any damage while it is in my care, is the unwanted banter that often comes from the vendors. If you carry around a firearm or sword, for that matter, every other dealer is shouting out at you asking if “it” is for sale. I find it rather annoying though I understand their reasons. Sword collectors immediately recognize the shape in the rifle sock and some will ask if they can see what you have. Naturally one would never decline to show off a new prize and the resulting conversation that follows. Eventually I came to a table of a long time acquaintance of mine who is also a fellow sword collector. He is a collector of ancient Japanese weapons and armour, the real thing not the WWII NCO and Officer’s katanas or the cheap scrap metal reproductions out of China. I showed him my latest purchase and he said, upon handling it, that it was a really poor sword and felt awkward in the hand and he thought it would also be a poor sword for fencing. It should be explained that this is common between us, his running down of British military swords and me asking once in a while, when no one else can hear, if a certain blade on his table came out of China recently. I would agree with his tongue-in-cheek assessment that the 1908 Cavalry Sabre feels much different in the hand than a Japanese katana, and he was as usual joking, as I have a couple of Japanese swords in the collection dating from the early 1650s. I also agree that the 1908 would make a terrible fencing sword based on the fact that in my younger days I belonged to a fencing club, using the epee for the most part. Then he hit upon the obvious that the 1908 had no true (sharp) edge and was “too dull to even cut butter”, I have not experimented but I assure you the butter remark was a little over the top. My friend knows his swords so his comments only elicited a laugh from me as I knew he was kidding. The downside is that he now has one up on me! This has led me to thinking about the current trend on television to run programs comparing different weapons systems and warriors throughout history. Comparing a ninja to a fifteenth century fully armoured knight for example. Who would win? First off there is no such thing nor never has been a ninja outside the realm of fiction and fantasy, so let’s call our imaginary friend a samurai. They were both in more or less the same time periods but the warfare they engaged in was completely different calling for different tactics and equipment. Also the samurai portrayed in these silly “competitions” is almost always indicative of the warriors of the 1650’s period and probably should at least be the fully armoured samurai of the 1500’s. Total nonsense! No different than comparing the Japanese katana of the 1650’s, of which I have two examples in my collection, to the Pattern 1908 British cavalry troopers sabre. Katanas are cutting, or slashing, weapons and the 1908 is a “thrust centric” sword, not even a true sabre; it’s actually more of an estoc. True you can thrust with the katana but just looking at it tells you that the principal use is as a cutter. You’ve probably seen samurai movies where the hero has just polished off 1,714 of the opposition’s samurai then flips his sword under his arm and stabs another opponent who is coming up behind him. Nice move for the camera but not one that would be very useful on the battle field. To make my point, the distance from the body of the samurai to the point of strike (about 4 inches from the tip) on the blade is 42 inches. The point of fatal contact with the enemy approaching from behind is 10 inches taking into account a needed four inches of penetration for a kill. Why would the enemy not simply strike his opponent, who is facing away from him, using a cut at 42 inches away instead of coming within the 14 inch strike range of his adversary? If you stand 14 inches away from your opponent it is almost impossible to make a power cut or even “give point” (thrust, or stab). You may simply say, “There he goes again, making unsupported claims”. Surprisingly enough, while I may blend a couple of stories together to make one better tale every now and then, I never make unsupported claims. Today was a very nice day so I went out into the back yard with my wooden practice katana (officially called a “bokken”) and my tape measure and carried out some experiments. The neighbours are used seeing to my so-called experiments in archeology. Some neighbours tend to describe me as eccentric, for some reason. There are probably less polite terms used when speaking to each other about their neighbour, I am sure. If we now look at the 1908 cavalry sword and read the history behind it we find that it was designed as a thrusting weapon only and only while on horseback. It was to take the place of the lance for the most part. It is not a fencing epee or a slashing weapon, this I assure you as I have studied and participated in both European and Japanese styles of fencing. In conclusion there is no comparison, not because one is superior to the other but simply because you can’t compare the two; they are totally different “animals”, different time periods and using different tactics. I apologize that I have not included photographs this time. I am not set up for photographing larger items and had a lot of trouble when I tried to insert Photoshop reduced backgrounds (canvas). Regards Brian
  8. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    British Swords Spoken Here. For some time now it has been my intention to write several posts regarding the British sword, keeping them as brief as possible, I think shorter posts are best. Please feel free to leave comments as well as your opinions; this is intended to be a learning exercise, for me as much as I intend it to be for you. It should be stated straight away that I am not an expert on swords, their identification, history or their use; just an obsessive enthusiast. My background is in martial arts which includes the proper use of the Japanese Katana in the style of the 1650’s which involves, for lack of a better term, the “quick draw”. This involves drawing your weapon and making an upward strike, left to right, or horizontal cut again left to right. After which you are going to block your opponent’s sword strike provided either you or your antagonist are still “alive”. Of course no one is actually “fighting” or sparing in this form of practise. This form is called Iaito. The other form I studied is called Toyama Ryu and is sparing with dull steel blades, actually we used wooden swords called a Bokken. You can check out a good video on YouTube under Toyama Ryu. It is a lot harder than it looks when you are on the Dojo floor in front of your Sensi and the class. Yes the white belts always seem to back up a lot; really makes you work hard to “kill” the little buggers. The other sword form I studied was European fencing with an Epee. The word epee basically means “sword” and is the heaviest of the three swords used in the sport; the three swords are, foil, epee and sabre. The foil and the epee are thrusting weapons only and only a hit with the tip counts. The sabre scores with either the point or the edge of the weapon just like the real sabres of old. A word of warning; I started fencing far too late in life (mid 30s) and today my right knee (forward knee if you are right handed) gives me a lot of trouble. My point for giving my credentials is that I do know something about swords and their use, not just some of the history that I have read in books. From Japanese sword use I learned the cut or slash and from Western style fencing I learned how to “give point” or the thrust. I chose the epee as it was the closest thing to using a British small sword of the mid to late 1700’s. Both systems taught me how to block or parry an opponent’s sword. My intended range of my posts will be from around 1796 to 1912, which takes in the Battle of Waterloo up to the last Pattern developed, the 1912 Officer’s Cavalry Sabre. Anything older such as medieval broad swords is just too expensive to own and I like to own what I study. If you like the older sword reproductions then two thumbs up from me but they are just not within my interest range. I may also talk about other swords from different parts of the world in giving examples of parallel sword development, evolution if you will, in different countries at approximately the same time period. In these cases I may have to use pictures from books as well as photos from books of swords I have yet to acquire. I’ll always give credit to the book and the author. So If I have not frightened you off or bored you to tears let’s talk British swords. Regards Brian Part of my collection is pictured below.
  9. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Quality: One of the flaws attributed to the British cavalry swords of the 1850’s was that the blades were of very poor quality. These, it was said, were made in Germany and sold to sword makers in Britain at a lower price, ending in a poor quality weapon. True this no doubt happened and in fact some sellers would place proof marks on blades that were never put through quality assurance testing. However, there were many very good quality blades produced in Germany for the British and even the Indian market. You can find Indian tulwars on the collector’s market today with British, German and Indian made blades of exceptional quality. I have an example of a Pattern 1853 Cavalry Trooper’s Sabre in my collection that is marked with a visored helmet motif to indicate the German maker, Kirschbaum, and also stamped with an “I” on the back edge of the blade by the British indicating it was for use by their troops serving in India. This seems to be an excellent quality blade. I do not believe that the British sword blades, even those from Germany, were of poor quality overall, some no doubt were, but not to the extent that was reported by the press of the day. So why would some officers even use a poor quality blade in the first place? We need to remember that at this time period positions in the army or cavalry were purchased. This meant that the new officer, while highly educated and socially refined knew little to nothing about what was expected of him on the battlefield. In addition to this the purchase of his entry rank most likely left him with little to spend on uniforms (he needed several) and other equipment such as his sword. Firearms were not issued to officers and they were required to purchase their own if indeed they wanted to carry one. When a young officer went to a “tailor” to be outfitted with his uniform he often had the opportunity to purchase his sword from the same supplier. If the tailor was out to maximize his profit margin then the swords he was offering might vary greatly in their quality. Even for the common cavalry trooper the quality might vary depending on which blade maker was supplying the sword makers in England who then supplied the military with the swords that were then issued to the troopers. The practise or purchasing your rank in the army (including cavalry) sounds rather ridiculous today and I will admit that I often wondered how this came to be. While I was researching this post I delved into this question and found what might be the answer. I’ll admit that the solution to my question comes from only one source so you decide whether you want to accept it or not. During the English Civil War c. 1650 Oliver Cromwell (leader of the opposition to the King) made changes in the military, one of those changes was to promote officers through the ranks based on merit. This seemed to be a very positive change and in today’s thinking makes a great deal of sense. However once the Civil War had settled down and a new King on the thrown it was noted that the army officers held rather revolutionary ideas and were at the same time viewed as being rather crude and brutish. This was when it was decided that in order to fill the upper ranks of the military with members of the gentry the government would offer to sell rank to the privileged. The so-called lower members of society would be excluded and the officer’s positions filled with men of quality, better educated and refined; in other words more apt to support a monarchy than make moves to copy the French and revolt. Much has been written about the problems associated with the purchase system but in all fairness many great military leaders came from the upper class and purchased their entry level rank; The Duke of Wellington being one of the best examples. In the forward to Janusz Jaroslawshi’s book, “The British Pattern 1796 Cavalry Sword and Other Derivatives”, Tadeusz M. Klupezynski writes, “There were special price lists of specified amounts that had to be paid in order to obtain a certain officer rank in the individual regiments. Such a dealings did not miss as well as Arthur Wellseley Wellington, who twice- by borrowed money- bought himself a promotion to higher rank to accelerate his career in military advancement. Perhaps, without these “purchases” if the indigent Irish nobleman had been promoted only in connection with the military service, the transformation of the British army would never have happened, there would not have been a Waterloo and the Napoleonic era would have had a completely different course, and perhaps over the Houses of Parliament in London would be a tricolor French flag today.” [sic]. Certainly a sobering thought and perhaps the most positive reinforcement of the success of the purchase program for its day. While it is good to point out the positive side of a topic that has been held as a negative condition of the early British army we shouldn’t dismiss this as purely politically driven criticism. The successes and achievements of the British army of the distant past owes much to the few brilliant leaders and much more to the perseverance and determination of the common soldier. Regards Brian
  10. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Thanks Simon, my intention is to make this section a "go to" destination for people interested in British swords and their use. I am a bit concerned that there seems to me to be too little interest in British history here on the GMIC. I could be wrong but the only way to correct that. providing I am correct, is to start to post about British history rather than sitting here complaining; which is what old guys like me do best. Regards Brian
  11. Brian Wolfe

    Hoarder to Historian

    Welcome back to the guild of historian/collectors and organized hoarders. I decided to cut back in my spending as well but to paraphrase a familiar movie, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in". Of course that "thought" is a common one and getting pulled back in again refers to either the next show or simply checking the GMIC. Regards Brian
  12. Brian Wolfe

    Hoarder to Historian

    Hoarder to Historian One of the types of articles I absolutely distain are the “personal journey” stories with some sort of life changing message at the end. The only thing intentionally placed at the end of one of my blogs is a full stop. That’s a “period” for our American friends. I actually say “full stop” just to irritate my Canadian friends who insist on speaking like Americans, which is alright if that’s what you are going for. I said it was “alright” with one exception. One of my all time favourite modern actors is Benedict Cumberbatch, a British actor who has brilliantly brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, “Sherlock Holmes” into the twenty-first century. As an open letter statement to Mr. Cumberbatch, please, please do not attempt an American accent as you did in the movie Doctor Strange. Listening to him announce that he (his character) was an Am-air-ik-an was painful. It makes me wonder what Americans ever did to him. To get back on track, while I was making notes for this blog I suddenly realized that the topic was pretty much about my own journey in collecting. As I have said I really dislike those types of articles so I will end this blog with a tip on how you can save money to allow you to do more collecting rather than some hippy-like transcendental useless spiritual advice. Yep, another public service announcement from the Home Office. I suppose you are surprised to read that I actually make notes prior to banging away on my keyboard. If you think I ramble on and on now, you should read the unedited notes. Getting back on getting back on track, see what I mean; and these are the edited results. Many of us start out collecting as hoarders, to a point. Not real hoarders such as seen on television programmes that deal with the physiological illness of hoarding but the accumulation of specific items at an accelerated rate to the exclusion of any in depth research and study. As an example I offer the short story of a fellow I knew who collected British War Medals and Victory Medals from WWI awarded to Canadians from a specific regiment. This was the same regiment he had served in during peace time just before the Desert Storm era. It is understandable why he would collect WWI medals from his old regiment and there is nothing wrong with that. Another fellow from his regiment was also trying the “corner the market” in these medals and a stiff rivalry ensued on the internet auctions between them, complete with bidding wars and heated emails between the two competitors. The fellow I knew would receive the medal or medals he had won then place them in a large zip-lock bag hiding them in the attic space under the insulation. He claimed it was to foil burglars, however, considering he left the small step ladder in the same place directly under the attic hatch it was obvious he was hiding the amount he was purchasing from his wife; a fact that I know to be the true reason. He often said that he intended to open a museum to his old regiment but in reality even a few hundred medals is not enough on their own to fill a museum. I have 210 drawers (I just counted them) filled with collectables, mostly medals and even that would make a pretty poor showing for a museum. The fact that he simply stored the medals away, out of sight and out of reach of his wife, she is quite a short lady, makes me categorize his as a hoarder. I will admit that I was in much the same category for many years then something strange (not Dr. Strange) happened. My collecting started to slow down and research started to interest me more and more. I say “strange” because as I aged my disposable income increased. I am much happier now than when I was driven by an obsession to add to the “pile”, as organized as it was. Now the accumulation of knowledge, and still adding to the collection of course, has become paramount in my obsessive little mind. Perhaps it is age or perhaps it is a simple matter of available space to house my collection, I’m not really sure. The one thing Nature and a collector agree on is that they both abhor a vacuum and will try to fill any void. Now for that money saving tip. One of the areas one can save money and therefore have more funds to spend on a collection is by doing-it-yourself. Take the high price of children’s shoes for example; they’re just little shoes so why do they cost so much? Why not make your kids foot wear in your shop; no shop then in your kitchen, as the materials are cheap and tools readily available in the average home. Take two cardboard boxes of the correct size, or cut larger boxes down to the appropriate size; use the ones your latest collectables from e$cam arrived in. Once you have them to the correct size cover them with duct tape. I used silver but it comes in black as well. If your child is a boy then adding a strip of “camo” duct tape (I used Gorilla tape) will give it that masculine look that most boys strive to achieve. If you have a daughter then duct tape also comes in bright colours as well. Take a black magic marker and draw laces on the tops of the shoes, after all we don’t want to emotionally scar the little buggers too much, and besides we are not animals. Once this is done, “Robert’s your father’s brother”, you have a nice pair of shoes, and darn sporty looking if I do say so myself. Just another public service from The Home Office...you’re welcome. Regards Brian
  13. Brian Wolfe

    Police Patches

    Hello Tulls and welcome to the GMIC. Good to see another Australian member, I am Canadian and if we can match the number Australian and Canadian members we can keep the earth in balance. Regards Brian
  14. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    The Indian Tulwar The curved sabre used in India for centuries, known as the tulwar, was the preferred, non firearm, weapon used by the Indians opposing the British during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. The term “Sepoy” is the Indian equivalent of the British rank of Private. I will not go into the causes and actions taken during this uprising as we are only dealing with the weapons themselves. A tulwar is a curved sword that is best suited for the cut or slash as opposed to the thrust or “giving point”. The British believed that the Indian schools of swordsmanship did not teach giving point, possibly due to the extreme curve of the blade making it look like it could not deliver a thrust if it had to. This was not completely true as while a straight forward thrust was not as practical as the cut it could be done. In fact it has been documented that British troopers upon missing their intended target and in passing the antagonist were stabbed in the back when the Indian struck in a curving arc thereby actually giving point. The myth was based on false assumptions drawn from the ignorance of the vast variety of Indian swords. Fighting schools throughout India not only taught the use of the curved tulwar but many forms of straight bladed swords designed primarily for giving point, or thrusting. There was also no need to spend a great deal of time teaching how to parry with the sword as the Indian fighters used a buckler, or small shield, with which they parried their opponent’s thrust or cut then delivered their own strike. The shape of the blade in cross section was also a long thin taper as opposed to the steeper bevel of European sword blades. It could be argued that the tulwar was more fragile and they did on occasion break but overall they held up very well. Any sword will break if the block or parry is made too close to the tip rather than on the bottom one third of the blade. The closer to the hand guard the better. Any blade might also break if struck hard enough on the flat of the blade. This was almost impossible for the tulwar due to the shape of the handle allowing for better control, or indexing, of the blade. The cut of the tulwar was delivered mainly with the forearm and wrist action. Literally, with a flick of the wrist an Indian swordsman could remove an enemy’s hand. One practise of the mutineers was to slide under the British cavalry horse from the side and with one slash open up the horse’s belly. There are stories of heads being severed in half horizontally just above the eyes and limbs or legs being decapitated are not uncommon. Interestingly, the British took a lesson for the Indians and started to wrap their head gear with twisted lengths of cloth forming a turban to protect from tulwar cuts. Even the cork or pith helmet alone was some protection from tulwar slashes. So why were the Indian tulwars able to maintain their sharpness while their British counterparts burdened with dull sabres? Again it has nothing to do with the steel used or the techniques of sharpening. It is the method of carrying the tulwar that is the secret. Indian tulwars are carried in a wooden scabbard wrapped in leather or cloth then slid into the waste belt. By not having the sharp edge rubbing against a steel scabbard day in and day out the tulwar maintained it edge. Another advantage of the wooden scabbard was in the ease or repair or replacement over the steel tube scabbard of the British trooper. Regards Brian
  15. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Pattern 1853 British Cavalry Sabre The 1853 Cavalry Sabre was designed as a “cut and slash” weapon with the emphasis on “giving point”, that is to say, for thrusting or stabbing and not cutting (slashing). The British were almost obsessed with designing the perfect sword and a thrusting sword was considered superior to the cutting sword. There were few complaints regarding the ability of the 1853 to perform well as a thrust centric weapon, the complaints came in regard to its ability or lack of ability to be a good cutter. At times on the battle fields of the Sepoy Mutiny a number 7 cut (straight down) to the head of an enemy wearing a thick turban would render the combatant unconscious or dead due to massive head trauma. In other words the 1853, in this case, didn’t cut but acted as a bludgeon, bashing in the poor fellow’s head. One of the aspects of the thrust (giving point) that was supposedly better than a cut was that a cut was not necessarily always fatal; however the thrust had a greater chance of rendering your opponent dead. Napoleon was said to have exclaimed, “Ne sabrez pas! Pointez! Pointez! ( No sabring! Give point! Give point!). On the other hand there are many accounts of a soldier running an opponent through and the fellow still advancing right to the hilt and dealing a death blow to the soldier, both to die on the battlefield together. A cut tends to stop or slow down a charging opponent better, even if he was to survive the first cut he would most likely be subjected to a thrust once he was down or at least stopped. So why were British cavalry sabres always dull? Well, they weren’t, at least not to start with. All swords and sabres were sharpened to razor sharpness before starting out on campaign. There are many accounts of a British cavalry trooper completely slicing an enemy in half diagonally. One of the favourite “sword tricks” of the British was to slice a silk handkerchief in half by simply laying the cloth on the blade (sharp edge up) and with a slicing motion severs the handkerchief in half. The problem was not with the sharpening it was with the means of carrying the sabre while out on campaign. British cavalry troopers and officers always carried their sabres in a steel scabbard with the blade facing the ground. The sharpest blade soon becomes quite dull under these circumstances. As I have stated the Pattern 1853 was not designed as a cutting only sabre but as a thrusting weapon. One of the problems with this is that, it was said, once a trooper got into a melee, or close combat, the natural urge to slash became overwhelming. I personally think this was out of necessity as you need space to thrust with a 35 inch basically straight blade. Experiments done here at “The Home Office” (aka my back yard) shows that you need at least 24 inches between your body and your opponent’s body in order to give point. This is if you can successfully draw your sabre back far enough to get that space needed. On the other hand if you slash using your left hand pushing on the back of the blade to give the sabre the proper cutting weight you reduce that space to around eight inches. Of course at that point you are pretty well grappling with your enemy, which often happened. In summary the Pattern 1853 Cavalry Sabre was every bit as good as the tulwar provided it could be kept in a state of razor sharpness. This, keeping in mind the sabre action is more of an arcing cutting slash rather than the pull and/or thrust slash of the tulwar. This we will discuss in the next instalment.
  16. Brian Wolfe

    Let's Talk British Swords

    Were British Cavalry Swords Substandard? With the ending of the Napoleonic era (1815) peace settled over the island of England, but not over the whole of the Empire itself. Many, if not most, historians will tell you there were numerous “small wars” flaring up keeping the British military busy putting out the flames before they turned into infernos. With this era, the mid 1800’s, there came the Bayonet and Sword Scandals. I covered the Bayonet Scandal in a resent blog but left the talk of swords, cavalry swords in particular, for discussion in this area of the forum. I would say that the Indian Rebellion or Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 saw more use of cavalry and therefore cavalry sabres than had been seen since the Battle of Waterloo at the end of the Napoleonic Wars mentioned above. Before we go any further I feel I must state why I am referring to this period in the long history of India as a “mutiny” and not a war of independence or a general rebellion of the Indian people as a whole against the British Raj. While the struggle involved more than just Indian soldiers and troopers, there was the issue of a mutiny, that is to say any soldier upon taking an oath of allegiance is bound by that oath; deviation from those terms constitutes an act of mutiny. I make no political observations by that statement only to say that for the sake of this discussion it is one military body against the other and involves the swords of both sides regardless of which side wields them. One of the criticisms of the British Cavalry Sabre was that it was consistently dull, being unable to maintain a sharp edge for any length of time. Compared with the Indian tulwar, the sword of choice by the Indian mutineers and their supporters, the British sabre was often called a “bludgeoning” weapon by its critics. Another flaw according to some was the incidences of the sword blade bending and even breaking upon impact with the enemy’s weapon. The complaints regarding poor hand protection offered by hand guards of the era is a subject I will reserve for future posts. Photo below shows the Pattern 1853 British Cavalry Troopers Sabre and an Indian Tulwar which we will use for the first discussion. I have selected a tulwar that, while it looks quite a bit shorter than the British Cavalry Sabre (and it is) it is at the same time one of the larger tulwars you might find. I do have a larger example which almost matches the 35¼ inch British sabre blade but I wanted discuss the two sword types that might have opposed each other on the battle field as my examples.
  17. Brian Wolfe

    Japanese Door Badges

    Japanese Door Badges I’ve followed this section for quite a number of years now yet seldom post mainly because I don’t have a lot that hasn’t been shown many times before. While I never get tired of seeing yet another Golden Kite much like the Iron Cross guys I rather thought that perhaps not everyone feels that way. On the other hand I haven’t been very supportive of the Japan section so with that in mind I am posting specimens from my small Japanese Door Badges collection. As an introduction I’ll quote the section from “In the Name of a Living God”, Paul L. Murphy & Steven L. Ackley, Chapter 13 as I could not say this any better. “Most of the societies whose badges as featured in this book issued door badges to their members in addition to the normal membership and merit awards. These were intended to be affixed to the home entrance to indicate that the owner was a member of the relevant society. The use of door badges continues in modern Japan although most are now in the form of adhesive stickers. The badges used before 1945 were made from a variety of materials and a sample of badges from the main organizations follow. Most door badges incorporate some society badge and the membership class representation. In some cases they also have the recipient’s name.” I have a few of these so it may take several posts to get the whole collection up, more a matter of my slow photography skills then any vast number of specimens. So please be patient. Regards Brian The first specimen (below) is, “Member” of the Greater Japan Wounded Veteran’s Association. (An early badge, 1913 – 38) Sorry About that last photo, it didn't look like our forum was going to accept Photoshop sizing and I panicked. This badge is to a member of the Wounded Servicemen's association from Chiba Prefecture.
  18. Brian Wolfe

    Japanese Door Badges

    If any of the other members have Japanese door badges I would really like to see them so please post away. Regards Brian
  19. Brian Wolfe

    Japanese Door Badges

    Supporting Member of the Manchukuo Red Cross Society 1938-1945 This is a porcelain door badge, a specimen I am very fortunate to own as these must have been quite fragile. Imperial Japanese Seafarers Relief Association (Nihon Kalin Ekisaikai) To finish off my collection here is a post war issue door badge and pin backed badge. I have other Japanese Red Cross associated items that I may post at a later date on a different thread. "Full Member of the Japanese Red Cross Society".
  20. Brian Wolfe

    Japanese Door Badges

    This door badge came with the original box and even the small brads (tacks) to mount it. "Member" of the Japanese Red Cross Society. This Red Cross Door Badge is made from a pressed paper product similar to the material used for today's egg cartons. "Member" of the Japanese Red Cross Society.
  21. Brian Wolfe

    Japanese Door Badges

    Next is a door badge for the, "Member of the Friends of the Military" This door badge is complete with the original shipping envelope. Member of the Imperial Air Association.
  22. Brian Wolfe

    Japanese Door Badges

    This is a wooded badge. "Member" Patriotic Women's Association (Aikoku Fujin Kai) Imperial Military Reserve Association (Teikoku Zaigo Gunjinkai) Member. This door badge is wooden. "Member" of the Imperial Navy Association This is a wooden door badge. Imperial Friends of the Military Association. Located in Ishindencho Mie Prefecture
  23. Brian Wolfe

    Japanese Door Badges

    Wounded Soldier's Wives Association I should have stated that most of the badges in my collection are made of a light weight metal unless noted otherwise. In this case the badge is made of wood. Bereaved Family WWII KIA "Full Member" of the Imperial Time Expired Soldier's League. "Member" of the Imperial Time Expired Soldier" League.
  24. Brian Wolfe

    To The Point Part 2

    Hello Everyone, After some experimenting I've come up with a way to photograph larger items. It is not what I would like but with a few portable lights I've gotten some photos of the swords mentioned in the above blog. You can see the vast difference between the Pattern 1908 (top sword) and the Japanese Katana c. 1650. Completely different designs and weapons systems. The other photo is of the Pattern 1908 and the guard's markings of R.H.G. (Royal Horse Guards) While many may argue the Guards made some bad decisions, being the highest authority, under the Monarch, they did play an important role in the history of the British military. I'm very please to have been able to add this sword to the collection. I've added some text to help you read the stampings. Regards Brian
  25. Brian Wolfe

    I Hate Moving!

    Hi Stuart, That may be, but what a collection you have! The term "World Class" comes to mind. Regards Brian
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