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Eddie Parks

Mystery modified 1908 Cav Troopers sword

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I've just come across a mystery sword. Now this is something that you would normally discard with a sigh as a lovely British Pat 1908 Cavalry sword that has been butchered for some unknown reason. The blade (and scabbard) has been reduced by about 20cms, the hilt bowl cut down drastically and the heavy counterweight pommel replaced by a simple nut and bolt.

BUT ... I know of 3 other identical examples, one of which is in a Jordanian military museum. And if you look carefully at the hilt markings you'll see the letters TJFF (Transjordan Frontier Force) and a series of numbers which appear to me to have been applied after the butchery.

So what's going on! Stage prop, dismounted use, police ....? All ideas welcome.

TJFF Sword 2.jpg

TJFF Sword 6.jpg

TJFF Sword.jpg

TJFF sword 3.jpg

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Very interesting indeed!  Presumably the Jordanians concluded that the heavy bowl was of little use and, to save weight, made some 'mods'.   Possibly for dismounted use or perhaps simply because, while they needed/wanted to carry them, there was no expectation of mounted combat and so no need for the full length and full bowl of what was, in essence, designed as a short lance. 

A fascinating story I read decades ago refers to hundreds of US cavalry sabres sent out to the Philippines & Australia just before or early in WWII.  Brand new, never issued.  After the last horsed unit in the Philippines - the 26th Cavalry - charged on and then ate their mounts, the sabres were repurposed as machetes by: grinding down the hilts and shortening both blades and scabbards.  I never bothered to really research the story, in a novel by a US writer with intimate ties to the US Army, but it has a ring of truth.  My suspicion is that these, especially if there are examples in the TFF Museum, were an official modification and issued as such.

My tuppence worth! ;)

Peter

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Yep, the fact that there are four examples seems to indicate some sort of official hand at work. I very much doubt the whole story will ever come to light.

Does anyone know where/how the 1908 swords were routinely marked?

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Proof marks and identifying marks - batch, year, etc, -were stamped at the 'top' of the blade, just below the guard, by the manufacturer.  I think I recall that regimental marks, as here, were stamped somewhere on the hilt.  I believe I've seen an example where a Cdn. regiment had stamped the hilt where it joined the hilt/grip, but can't remember details, so these markings seem 'right' to me.

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Equally I seem to remember a photo of regimental markings, poss QDG, in the same place as on this sword.

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There are variations, I read recently that the 08s destined for india had smalled grips as the hands are on average smaller... I can quite see the Jordanians reworking these, the same way the turks reworked German bayonets... I am 193cm and find the 08 to be unconfortably long and unweildy...

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Agreed.  Many weapons designed for 'Asian' troops - Indians, Gurkhas et al - had smaller grips and occasionally were lighter in weight, so this is very likely a local modification done to suit the new users.

 

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I would like to set the record straight regarding the 1908 (and 1912 Officer’s) Cavalry Sword being too long and unwieldy. The sayings, “Get off your high horse” and “Keep your feet solidly on the ground”, do not apply when talking about the 1908.  These swords were designed to be used from horseback and for “giving point” or thrusting and never as a cutting or slashing weapon. They replaced the lance for all intents and purposes. For this use they may very well have been the best sword ever produced anywhere and at anytime.  Unfortunately warfare changed drastically shortly after 1914 and the true worth of the 1908 will always remain unknown.  Use in the colonies such as North West Frontier of India continued after the Great War and there were some successes in 1918 after trench warfare broken. 

 

I intend to run several posts in the Weapons area of the forum under my post title, “Let’s Talk British Swords”, dealing with the 1908/1912 after the New Year.  I wrote an article on the topic for a publication earlier this year but need to reformat it in order to post it on the GMIC, so a little manipulation will be required.  If anyone is interested in the 1908 or other British swords then, as they say, stay tuned.

 

Regards

Brian

 

 

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