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aussiesoldier

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    Ex-Aust Reserve Infantry, History teacher, developed an interest in C19th/C20th military swords

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  1. The 1897 Pattern Infantry Officers’ Sword To go to another British sword I own, the 1897 Pattern Infantry Officers’ Sword is a straight-bladed, three-quarter basket-hilted sword that has been the regulation sword for officers of the line infantry of the British Army from 1897 to the present day. The curved, Gothic-hilted 1821 and 1845 Pattern infantry swords, although elegant, had been widely criticized as fighting swords. In common with British cavalry swords of the era, they were compromised cut-and-thrust swords and as a consequence were not ideal for either task. In 1892, a new, straight, blade was introduced, mated to the existing Gothic hilt. Presaging the introduction of the 1908 Pattern cavalry sword, the curved blade was abandoned in favour of a straight, stiff blade optimized for the thrust. Credit for the design has been given to Colonel G.M. Fox, Chief Inspector of Physical Training at the Board of Education, who was also influential in the design of the Pattern 1908 cavalry sword. In 1895, a new pierced steel hilt pattern was introduced, replacing the earlier Gothic hilt with a three-quarter basket hilt. The new Pattern was short-lived due to the edge of the guard fraying uniforms, and in 1897 the final pattern was settled on, being simply the 1895 Pattern with the inner edge of the guard turned down, and the piercings becoming smaller. By the time of its introduction, the sword was of limited use on the battlefield against rapid-firing rifles, machine guns and long-range artillery. However, the new sword was regarded, when needed, as a very effective fighting weapon. Reports from the Sudan, where it was used in close-quarters fighting during the Reconquest of the Sudan 1896-99, were positive. Bernard Montgomery advanced with his 1897 Pattern drawn during a counteroffensive in the First World War. The actual sword he carried is exhibited in the Imperial War Museum, London. The blade is described in the pattern as being 32 1⁄2 inches (830 mm) long and 1 inch (25 mm) wide at the shoulder, with the complete sword weighing between 1 lb 12oz and 1 lb 13 oz (794-822g). The blade is straight and symmetrical in shape about both its longitudinal axes. The thick blade has a deep central fuller on each side and is rounded on both its edge and back towards the hilt, giving a “dumbbell” or “girder” cross section. Through a gradual transition, the blade becomes double edged towards the tip, and the last 17 inches (430 mm) were sharpened when on active service. The blade ends in a sharp spear point. The blade would usually be decoratively etched on both sides. The guard is a three-quarter basket of pressed, plated steel. It is decorated with a pierced scroll-work pattern and had the royal cypher of the reigning monarch set over the lower knuckle bow. The sword shows a number of features that indicate its intent as a thrusting weapon. The spear point and double edge towards the point aids penetration and withdrawal by incising the wound edges. The blade, whilst quite narrow, is thick and its dumbbell section gives it good weak-axis buckling strength whilst maintaining robustness in bending for the parry. The blade tapers in both width and thickness and, with the substantial guard, has a hilt-biased balance, aiding agility at the expense of concussive force in a cut. The guard would give comprehensive protection to the hand, but does not restrict wrist movement. The length of the double edge, at 17 inches (430 mm), is quite significant, suggesting that some cutting capability was maintained. I own three of these swords. 1. A Royal Marine Officer’s P1897 with some evidence of sharpening and wear, with George V guard. 2. A standard officer’s, unsharpened, with George V. 3. An Edward VII Infantry Officer’s P1897 which in all likelihood was a retirement piece. The latter sword has the owners initials etched into the blade which I believe is E J D. This is Captain Edgar John Dent who was commissioned an officer in March, 1883, and was posted to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. He saw active service with the 2nd Battalion in December 1888 as part of the Suakin Field Force being awarded the Khedive’s Star with Clasp. In 1889 he saw action in Sudan, including the engagement at Toski where he was mentioned in dispatches, and was awarded the 4th Class of the Medjidie with Clasp. He was promoted to Captain in February, 1893. Between 1889 and 1900 he saw service in the South African War, where once again he was mentioned in dispatches. He is retired from the Army and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers in 1902 and seems to have died in 1906.
  2. I thought I might offer a continuation of this quest by describing the 1885 British Cavalry Sword. I own one of these weapons and they a considerable beast of a thing. British Pattern 1885 sword The British Pattern 1885 sword was designed during the period when the British army was continuing to argue on the merits of the ‘cut’ versus the ‘thrust’ of British cavalry blades, therefore (as is the case with most Victorian cavalry blades) it was a compromise and not good for either. The hilt design was first introduced for the 1864 pattern, this was primarily a new hilt mated with the existing 1853 pattern blade (35 ½ inches long 1 ¼ inches wide). No official trials took place for this hilt and there were a number of complaints about the edges of the guard rubbing against the uniform and causing it to fray (this was corrected on the 1880 pattern). This sword continued to be the official pattern until about 1880 when a new design was sought, what followed was five years and numerous patterns. One complaint of the 1853 pattern blade was its weight. The following patterns looked to lighten the blade and in some cases shorten it. The result was to create blades that, when tested regularly, bent or broke. Eventually a new pattern was agreed in 1884 and the new 1885 pattern was accepted. The new blade was 34 ½ inches long and 1 1/8 inches wide. It has a single fuller ending 8 ¼ inches from the point with the last 10 inches double edged. New tests were introduced for the 1885 pattern involving hitting the edge and back of the blade by a machine to an equivalent of the ‘hardest blow a man could strike against the trunk of an oak tree’ the blade was also to be bent round a pattern to a degree where the distance from point to guard was shortened by 5 inches. In 1888 these swords were tested in action by the British Cavalry against the Mahdists round Suakin, complaints were subsequently received with dramatic reports of the blade breaking when ‘making a downward cut upon an enemy’s head’. Investigations were subsequently made by testing blades already issued and the results showed the blade still as being too weak. Subsequently the 1890 blade was introduced. The 1890 took advantage to changes in manufacturing techniques and also different testing methods, it was also about 3 ozs heavier with small changes to the design of the fullers. The 1885 pattern hilt was maintained on the 1890 blade. The sword was made in 1886 and was issued to the 13th Hussars (D squadron, weapon #33) in Sept. of 1888, and retested by armourers before then passed on to the Hertfordshire Yeomanry (weapon 58) in August of 1893. The 'YC' = 'Yeomanry Cavalry'. (Extract from British Military Swords 1786 – 1912 Harvey Withers) The 1882, 1885 and 1890 Pattern Cavalry Trooper Swords can be distinguished by their varying lengths, blade types, scabbards (this pattern saw the first adoption of fixed rings) and weights. The fact that we see three changes of pattern in only a few years highlights the crisis experienced within the British Army to find a sword both durable and effective. The 1882 Pattern is found in both‘Long’ and ‘Short’ versions, with the relevance of having two lengths hotly debated ever since. The general consensus is that the longer sword was for use by the heavy cavalry regiments who tended to employ taller men! This seems quite a strange theory, and the introduction of these two lengths has never adequately been explained. The pattern is easy to recognise because of the distinctive Maltese Cross motif cut into the guard. It was purely ornamental and served no practical purpose. Many examples are also marked on the blade to the German sword-maker Weyersberg, Kirschbaum & Co., who impressed their knight’s head logo and company name to the blade forte. Kirschbaum took on a large contract to produce these swords as British companies were unable to fulfil the orders, although Mole and Son and the R.S.A.F. Enfield, shared around 11,500 of the contract, with Kirschbaum taking the remaining 18,000. It is a common sword and many were carried by Yeomanry Regiments. They are marked accordingly to hilt, blade and scabbard.
  3. Well done, Mike. Fascinating series of variation in design of the pugaree/hat band. Photographs of the Light Horse clearly show many of these variations, sometimes in the same photo, and one with the 6th ALH with their koala pugaree.
  4. Thanx. I am using this year's major occasions to cover the year of the Light Horse. Anzac Day Service is an overview of my personal hero of WW1, Lt Gen Harry Chauvel and the Light Horse. We will commemorate the charge in October and I have the grandson of Trooper Ernst Pauls (12th ALH Regt and in the charge!) as a video guest - he will be in Israel - he will use extracts from the diary to fill out the history. Dec 9 is Hannukah and the date lines up with the liberation of Jerusalem and the celebration of the Maccabees' victory. I am also covering Bullecourt, Gaza, Hazelbrook from WW1 and the 75th anniversaries of the Fall of Singapore and the bombing of Darwin, the attack on Sydney Harbour (May) and the Kokoda Campaign (August). A very busy schedule. Next year is even bigger.
  5. Looks a lot like the crown from Hesse Darmstadt as seen on belt buckles etc.
  6. Second sentence should read "The SWORD looks like . . ." To counter this, the blade looks flat and that is much more typical of the 1895 issue cavalry sword. Maybe the owner didn't like the new hand grip? See attachment. Evolution of 1860 (A), 1880 (B), 1895 (C) & 1907 (D) patterns
  7. G'day, Finally got around to reading all the different sites. The guard looks like an 1880 Spanish Cavalry Sword and government issue by the maker's mark. 1895 indicates a very late production or a preference over the newer 1895 Spanish Cavalry Sword that had a very innovative hand-grip that was much more hand form-fitting. The guard, however, looks far more like a guard from an 1895! Officer with 1895 pictured above. I posted on my private purchase 1895 Cavalry Sword previously. Hope this helps.
  8. Just to balance my collection, I added a private purchase 1896 Cavalry Officer's sword - probably from c.1910. The French government decided to make another attempt to design an acceptable sword with the design of the M1896 cavalry sword. This straight bladed sword was designed for both heavy and light cavalry, the only difference being the length of the blade: 950mm for the heavy cavalry troopers and 900mm for the light cavalry. The full basket five bars brass hilt had two sidebars symmetrically arranged each side of the knuckle bow. The design of the hilt ornamentation was entrusted to the sculptor Jean Alexandre Falguière, professor at the School of Fine Arts of Paris, and there is no doubt the embellishment of the French Model 1896 cavalry officer’s sword was largely influenced by the Art Nouveau style. Falguière arranged intricate flowing curves and botanical forms in abstract patterns symmetrically arrayed around the guard. The grip was made of black buffalo horn. Many officers remained faithful to the M1854 Dragoon's officer's sword and M1822 Light Cavalry officer's sword which were still regulation patterns. However, light cavalry officers who favoured the thrust, or officers who simply wanted to keep up with fashion, purchased the new sword M1896 directly from Châtellerault or from private sword makers. Following the regulation, all the officers' service blades, even those assembled by private cutlers, should have been manufactured and controlled in the government's factory of Châtellerault from where they were available in three sizes: 1st size (1re Taille) = 95 cm 2nd size (2me Taille) = 90 cm 3rd size (3eme Taille) = 85 cm Actually, the regulation not having been strictly followed, many swords made by private sword makers bear no markings at all and the ornamentation and size of the hilts are found to vary. This sword bears no marking. On the Third Republic, a lot of officers purchased their swords from private makers. So, the Third Republic is known as a great period for fantasy sword for officers. This is one. By the 1910's the fashion was for a polished guard or with light chasings. The first maker who purposed this variation of sword was Backès & Delacour, and whilst this sword is unmarked, it remains true to this type of private purchase sword. Finally, the polite brilliant guarding is not intended for the troops. Characteristics of the illustrated sword: Total Length = 110 cm Blade Length = 95 cm * much favoured by Light Cavalry Officers Blade Width at ricasso = 25 mm Blade Thickness at ricasso = 8.5 mm The blade is light but tempered. Combat ready ???????? Weight without scabbard = 1040 grams
  9. Gentlemen, I could not help myself. Having watched a Matt Easton special on the French, 1882 Infantry sword, I decided to buy one. In 1882 the new pattern was the M1882 with a thin straight blade. The regulation pattern should have a Chatellerault blade, but actually many officers 1882 swords were issued by private cutlers and bear only their mark. Mine is marked as E.BIDAL 3 RUE DE RICHELIEU PARIS on one side and Klingenthal on the other. Apparently they were well-known retailers operating at that address in the 1890s. In parallel with the M1882, the old M1845/55 was still used by some officers (with gilt hilts and 1 ring scabbard)) and also, with a polished brass hilt, became the regulation sword of the Adjudants (equivalent, I think, to UK warrant officers). In 1914, the "professional" infantry officers had all the M1882, but many officers from the "reserve" (ex-civilian) who did not privately purchase a M1882, received an old M1845/55 from the government stock. The 1882 French model infantry officers sword (épée d'Officier d'infanterie Mle 1882), possessed a stiff, thrust-centric sword with no real edge to speak of. The profile taper is pronounced and fairly even, with the blade forming a very neat point, however, it has an oval cross section with two offset fullers which are deep and narrow, adding to the stiffness of the blade. This is remarkable as I have not seen it on any other blade but Matt commented that it added strength whilst lessening weight. MEASURE BLADE: 82.5 cm / 33" SABRE THE MEASURE: 102 cm / 40,8" NB: I can't work out the hilt scrolls. Enjoy
  10. David and Brian, Thought I might add to this. I am lucky enough to know the wartime story of my Shun Gunto as dad brought it home from Buna/Gona in 1942 having taken off a Japanese 'Officer' who no longer had a need for. I had to replace the leather cover as all that was left after years of neglect was the lace section at the top. It never had a locking mechanism and was held in its wooden scabbard by pressure. There are no makers marks beyond a red painted symbol for Tokyo Arsenal. I had some assistance in tracing it and according to someone who knew it was probably machine made in the late 1930s before being fitted out for jungle service and a trip to New Guinea. It came without a tassel and I fitted a Company Officer's copy. Dad has passed, I got the service medals and the sword and now have a fight on my hands as to who I pass it on to! George
  11. Dear GMIC members, Maybe an answer to my challenge from across the Channel. I registered on the Feldgrau site and one possibility arose. Corporal Wilhelm Bonig was from the small rural town of Dohnsen, in the district of Holzminden, to the south of Hannover He was listed as wounded in the 7 December, 1917 casualty list. Rural towns would have provided the horsemen necessary for a cavalry regiment and it is at least a logical solution. Considering the destruction of Prussian military records in April, 1945 air raids, I suspect this is almost as good as it is going to get. Putting even a small story to a named sword is always a moment of great joy. Thanx George
  12. I have recently had some success chasing down a soldier's details from a very meagre beginning and I have a a faint hope that the site might be able to help me again. I have a; Kavallerie-Degen M.1889, 2 Hannover Dragoon Regt Nr16, Lüneburg; a "Eigentuems Stuecken" or "Owned Pieces" with the o wner’s name engraved on bottom of guard = GEFR BONIG. The regiment's story is The 16th (2nd Hannover) Dragoons : On mobilization, the 16th Dragoons, was raised to a strength of 6 squadrons before being split into two half-regiments of 3 squadrons each. The half-regiments were assigned as divisional cavalry to 17th and 18th Divisions. On mobilisation, IX Corps was assigned to the 1st Army on the right wing of the forces for the Schlieffen Plan offensive in August 1914 on the Western Front. It participated in the Battle of Mons and the First Battle of the Marne which marked the end of the German advances in 1914. Later it saw action in the Battle of Pozières and Battle of Amiens (1918). It was still in existence at the end of the war. And that is the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. I would be very grateful for any assistance anyone can offer. George
  13. I have, with the help of an number of websites, discovered the story of my sword's original owner. F L JOHNSTON, SCOTTISH HORSE. He was born 31/1/95. In the ranks of the Territorials to 11/3/15 when on the 12th March 1915, he is commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Low Johnston, Scottish Horse and transferred to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment). and served with the regiment in Egypt in 1916 to 11 November, 1918. He was promoted Lt. in September, 1917 and as Acting Captain on 1 November, 1918. Transferred to the Russian Front (Russian Civil War) in December, 1918. He served with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots at Secundrabad, in India in the early 1920’s. He is promoted substantive Captain in 1926, Major in November, 1937, and Acting Lt. Colonel in September, 1939. Serves with the Regiments Territorial battalions between 1932 and 1936, before returning to The Royal Scots in Palestine 1936-39. The 1st Battalion was deployed to serve in the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine, where it would remain for a year, until January 1939, when it became part of the 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.From the London Gazette, 25th April 1939: Mentioned in Dispatches: The names of the under-mentioned have been brought to notice by the General Officer Commanding the British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan in recognition of distinguished services rendered in connection with the operations in Palestine during the period 1st April to 31st October, 1938:- 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment). Johnston, Maj. F. L. He is awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1939 (Yorkshire Post 8th June 1939) probably in recognition for this service. He promoted Acting Lt. Col. In September 1939 and Brigadier in 1942. I n 1952 is awarded an Ordinary Commander of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order, CBE, possibly because of his service with the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations, Edinburgh City, The Lothians and Peebles. He died in 1971. The web has its advantages and I am delighted that I could bring this story to life.
  14. It is my intention to submit an article that outlines my endeavours to create an ANZAC Spirit in a multicultural migrant school. That talks of the past and of my future plans. Keep an eye out for it.
  15. Trooper D, Happy to comply. My last slouch, not worn a great deal because I became a Cadet Corps Officer - turned to the dark side. The slouch fills out a little and sits higher on the head. Never got pulled up for it as long as it sloped to the front and side. I always kept a standard slouch for formal parades so that it sat more distinctly upon the head and stayed there in heavier winds. It is badged and displayed as a 12 ALH regiment slouch with original style pugaree in honour of the 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment (4th Brigade)and its charge at Beer Sheva. I work at a Jewish College and my late 2017 focus for commemoration is that charge. Hope this helps, George
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