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1856 PIONEER SAWBACK SWORD


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The British have had several patterns of sawback bayonets - however, this is the only sword. Carried by the Pioneers it was adopted in 1856 and was in use for quite a short period - into the early years of the 20th. Century.

The purpose for the sword was two fold - it was obviously a weapon - but, with a the strong blade the sawback functioned as an effective saw. This was of particular use when cutting brush down to allow a good field of fire and also, for clearing bivouac areas. The blade is just over 22 inches in length (55cm).

This is a Wilkinson made version and - as the stampings show - was issued in August 1895. The markings on the reverse show two Inspection stamps. 'WD' and the Broad Arrow and finally, a large X which shows it was officially sold out of service. Unfortunately, the leather scabbard, with it's brass fittings has gone missing with time. This is quite common -

leather scabbards are very vulnerable when the sword is being sheathed - if not held straight, the chances are the blade will hole the leather.

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A very interesting post Mervyn. I wonder just how well these worked in the field as saws. Most muli-purpose tools usually work poorly for both intentions, in my opinion, however, that is in the area of wood working and not military. Have any of the members experimented with such weapons/saws? If so, lets hear from you.

Regards

Brian

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  • 4 months later...

Good Morning Mervyn.....

Here is one that I picked up at a Car Boot Sale the last time I was in England in 2008....... According to my records cost me a grand total of 35 Pounds.....

Here are some photos of the markings......

The scabbard looks like it is dated 1903.....

Mike

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Nice example Mike - was there a date issue ? For that price I think you should be arrested and charged with extortion

they are very scarce and worth a great deal more. I was looking at a list this morning that showed the current price for a

QSA to Strathcona 's Horse. You're retirement must be taken care of ? Mervyn

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Good Morning Mervyn......

There is no date on the actual piece but the date os 5/1903 on the scabbard..... I do not know if they are a matched pair as there is no SN on either the sword or scabbard......

I was lucky if you want to call it that to be able to purchase my first Dated QSA before they went through the roof but I am afraid I had to pay nearly the full price for the second.....

If you look at the ABW Forum I am posting on a daily history from the letters etc on the formation of a regiment, the Strathcona's and will be posting the weekly reports.....

Mike

Edited by QSAMIKE
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  • 1 month later...

Mervyn

Thanks so much for these posts.

I've had one of these swords for years, it was on the wall in my Grandmother's house and she left it to me as I would clean it everytime I visited.

I've only ever seen 2 of these types of swords before but neither exactly the one I have. One at the Imperial War Museum, London, UK and the other at the Halifax Citadel Museum, Halifax, NS Canada.

I'll also add the markings. The scabbard is in good condition just the stitching is missing.

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Welcome to GMIC, John. So, the sword was issued in August 1898 - however, it has a bowl guard.

This is quite different to the normal thin guard for a pioneer sword. Since it is in Canada, there has to- be

a strong possibility that it was made to local requirements.

Look through the Regt. lists for V 3 L l. Sounds like a Volunteer Unit Could it be for a Lancer Regt.?

Will be interesting to see what Mike and other Canadian experts think ? Mervyn

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Pete - sorry, I missed your comment. I agree with you - swords and bayonets have become increasingly sought

after in recent years. Bayonets, because they are cheaper and don't suffer from the length problem of swords.

Many Post Offices are limiting parcels to 1 metre - or 39 inches. And this prevents many from being posted. Mervyn

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Welcome to GMIC, John. So, the sword was issued in August 1898 - however, it has a bowl guard.

This is quite different to the normal thin guard for a pioneer sword. Since it is in Canada, there has to- be

a strong possibility that it was made to local requirements.

Look through the Regt. lists for V 3 L l. Sounds like a Volunteer Unit Could it be for a Lancer Regt.?

Will be interesting to see what Mike and other Canadian experts think ? Mervyn

Good Morning Mervyn......

The one that I have was purchased in the UK so has no Canadian connection other that it is in my collection..... I have done only a quick check my Canadian equipment list and cannot find any mention of it as being issued here..... At that time there were still British regiments serving in Canada and they could have been left behind when they returned home.....

Mike

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mervyn;

It's not a Canadian sword - I'm now in Canada but from the UK. My maternal grandparents had this on their wall in Salwarpe, Worcs (just outside of Droitwich) - it's an English issue. I wouldn't take too much from the shape of the guard - it got dropped a few times and the guard was curled down so far it stuck on the scabbard and I had to pry it back enough to be able to get it out of the scabbard.

I'll also need some help with another sword it's dated 1853 and think was the property of my "avatar" - Benjamin Thomas Oswell, Deputy Chief Constable of Staffordshire and Lt Col (I think) of the N. Staffs Regt - should I post that here of in another thread?

Thanks

Edited by John Oswell
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John - the base of the grip is different to the standard type. Colonels had a lot of powers in the old days and

it might just have been his preference when ordering. I will look through some UK Regt. histories and see if

I can locate these initials.

With your other sword for the Dep. Ch. Const. of Staffordshire - please post here and on our Police section which

is higher-up the Forums. I think we have two different groups of members who will be interested. Mervyn

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  • 3 years later...

Hey im from perth Western Australia im 27 but i have some awesome swords and bayonets and id like some more information if anyone can help im trying to upload some pics but i have a 

Pioneer short sword - wilkinson sword and it appears in unissued condition- which is my favorite piece by far - i paid $1900 for it - and - a japanese shin gunto? Katana With a family signature in tang ? Which has since been valued at around $1400 

i know the background behind most things i buy/trade and i have been pretty lucky being from australia and still managed to find some pretty rare pieces  unfortunately- they also cost alot so il post some pics and tell me what you can

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Hi - Richo.   Welcome to GMIC.   Your price for the Pioneer sounds quite high  -  however, they are becoming hard to find.   Do separate posts  - on this Forum for the Pioneer and the Japanese.    We have a number of experts on Japanese material who will be pleased to see the sword.

We have recently changed the Forum format  -  there are directions at the top for posting pictures  -  however, if you have any problems let me know and we will see what we can do to help.     Mervyn

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I'll add mine :-) Got it in England 1965-68 timeframe.

 

Pioneer sword 02.jpg

Pioneer sword scabbard.jpg

Pioneer sword 01.jpg

Pioneer sword scabbard-01.jpg

Pioneer sword.jpg

Edited by speagle
Additional comment: Appreciate any help with additional info on this please.
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Nice condition..  First issued in April  1900.  Has the Broad Arrow for the Department of Ordnance  -  and the ' X ' - which shows it was sold out of service.     The leather on the scabbard is still good  -  give it a polish with boot polish or leather cleaner.   Similarly the brass mounts on the sheath and on the guard also look well when polished with Brasso.      Mervyn

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