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British P1912 Cavalry Officer's Sword


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An original First World War British & Commonwealth Pattern 1912 Cavalry Officers Sword supplied and engraved with the officer’s name and regiment;  F  L  JOHNSTON, SCOTTISH HORSE. The Sword, Cavalry Officer, Pattern 1912, as it was officially called, was the officer’s version of the Sword, Cavalry, Pattern 1908, and was the last service sword authorised for use by British and Commonwealth mounted officers. As Brian Robson in his excellent reference work Swords of the British Army writes: “Broadly speaking, the Pattern 1912 officer’s sword was a more ornamental version of the Pattern 1908 trooper’s sword, he states that it was “virtually identical with that of Pattern 1908 except for decoration and shape of the shoulder”. Individual swords and scabbards vary in weight because there was no rigidly enforced specification.

Like the Pattern 1908, the Pattern 1912 was designed for function not form and caused uproar in certain quarters as a consequence of its utilitarian and practical appearance. King Edward VII described the trooper’s sword as "hideous" when the pattern was submitted to him for formal approval, and had to be persuaded of its practical utility before eventually conceding the point.

The grip, designed by Colonel Fox was revolutionary in that when it was held it automatically brought the sword into the thrust position. This was important as the Pattern 1908 and 1912 had very limited cutting effect and were optimized for thrusting in line with the common wisdom of the time, which stated that “the point will always beat the edge”.

This is a good example of a Pattern 1912 Cavalry Officers Sword. Steel hilt, stepped crosshatched brass pommel and steel ferrule. Grips: Sharkskin covered (much of it missing) wood bound with wire and a large depression for the thumb, grip length 165mm (6.5 inches). Guard: sheet steel bowl decorated with a scroll pattern and a sword knot slot near the pommel. The etched blade is straight tapered with a single fuller on each side to within 228mm (9 inches) of the spear point, double edged for the last 153mm (6 inches). Some damage caused by wrapping and rust to the top half of the blade. 

The ricasso is marked with the Damascene star and Proved cartouche. The back edge of the blade is etched with the London Made mark and the sword owner’s name and regiment. The blade etching is clear with the usual scrollwork and the Royal Cypher of HM King George V (GvR - Georgius Rex V - 1911-1936). Blade shows NO evidence of sharpening. The guard is superb with an aged patina. The hilt and pommel are tight, matched and secure.

Overall Length: 1095.0 mm

Blade Length: 895.0 mm

Blade Width (at guard): 25.0 mm

Scabbard Length: 925.0 mm

Proof disc used by these retailers and therefore ONE of them supplied the sword;

·         JH Batson, Outfitter, 94 High St. Erith, London, 

·         Lewis Moses Ltd New Oxford St   London, and

·         Manton & Co  Wilkinsons supplied some swords to Manton.

Sadly, despite many efforts, I have not been able to identify  F L Johnston of the Scottish Horse.

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Edited by aussiesoldier
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  • 2 months later...

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.

Edited by aussiesoldier
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Wow, what a story!  Any chance that Johnston left a diary, letters or even a biography behing?  Just touching on the exotic bits: Egypt, Russia, India and Palestine - quite the grab bag of postings and experiences.  I wonder if he carried the sword with him to all those places and units though technically I suppose he would have been out of uniform to have done so, at least after his transfer to the Royal Scots.

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  • 5 years later...

SIGNIFICANT UPGRADE TO BIOGRAPHY

Frederick Lowe JOHNSTON, SCOTTISH HORSE.

Frederick Lowe Johnston was born 31st January 1895 the son of Frederick Williamson Johnston (1865 - 1936) and Catharine Johnston in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He joined the Scottish Horse Territorials, a cavalry regiment and was mobilised in March of 1915. He was in chosen from the ranks to undertake officer’s training and in December 1915, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Lowe Johnston, Scottish Horse and was given his cavalry sword upon graduation, probably by his parents. He was transferred to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) on the 12th of December 1915 and served with the infantry regiment in the Mediterranean in 1916.

He was posted to Egypt in 1916 arriving in February 1916 and served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and may have seen action defending the canal at the Battle of Romani in August 1916. In 1917 he joined the 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots, at Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including the capture of Homondos in 1917, and the capture of the Roche Noir Salient, the passage of the Vardar River and the pursuit to the Strumica Valley in 1918. The battalion ended the war in Izlis, northwest of Doiran, Bulgaria.

He was promoted to Lieutenant in August 1917 and as (Acting) Captain on the 1st of November, 1918, transferring to the Russian Civil War in December 1918 sailing from Salonika through the Dardanelles to the port of Batum in Russian Georgia, at the eastern end of the Black Sea. From there it moved eastwards to Tiblisi where it provided guards on vulnerable points in the town. On 3 March 1919 it moved by train to Baku on the Caspian Sea to assist in taking over the Russian Caspian fleet from Bolshevist crews. From Baku it returned to Tiblisi and returned to Edinburgh in May 1919, where (Acting) Capt. Johnston served as adjutant until December, 1923.

 (Acting) Captain Johnston, 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots, again embarked for imperial service, taking up garrison duties in Rangoon, in India in the early 1920’s. The 1st Battalion moved from Rangoon to Secunderabad in 1922, then to Aden in 1925. They finally returned to the UK in 1926, barracked at Maryhill in Glasgow, where they saw duty in the General Strike.

He met and married Agnes Fyfe Hunter in 1926 in India. [Her father was Robert Hunter and mother was Jeanie Livingston. She was born on the 16th of September 1868 in Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Her death is recorded as the 7th of January 1946 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland.] They had one daughter, Marjorie McLeod Johnston in late 1926. Mother and daughter returned to Britain in April 1928 and returned to Glasgow, Scotland.

 He was promoted substantive Captain in 1926, Major in November 1937. He was posted to the Regiment’s Territorial battalions between 1932 and 1936, before returning to 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots, when it was deployed to serve in Palestine in the Arab Revolt, between 1936 to January 1939. when the battalion became part of the 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and returned to Britain.

The 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, later came to be known as The Great Palestinian Revolt, was a nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine against the British administration of the Palestine Mandate, demanding Arab independence and the end of the policy of open-ended Jewish immigration and land purchases with the stated goal of establishing a "Jewish National Home". The dissent was directly influenced by the Qassamite rebellion, and the calling for a General Strike. Ben Gurion described Arab causes as fear of growing Jewish economic power, opposition to mass Jewish immigration and fear of the English identification with Zionism.

The London Gazette, 25th April 1939, announces a ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’: ‘Maj. F. L Johnston, has 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 whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment). 

He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (Military Division) in December, 1939 (Edinburgh Gazette 1939) in recognition for his service in Palestine.

He promoted (Acting) Lt. Colonel in September 1939, made substantive Lt. Colonel in June,1943 and (Acting) Brigadier General in March 1942.  He served as Commanding Officer of the 157th Highland Light Infantry Brigade between March 1942 and November 1943. In 1942 to June 1944 the division was trained in mountain warfare yet was never used in the role. He then assumed command of the 45th Infantry Brigade between November 1943 and November of 1944. The brigade was a 2nd Line Territorial Army formation and served throughout the Second World War. It remained in the United Kingdom throughout the war. He was appointed an (Acting) Major General in May 1945 before reverting to his substantive rank of Brigadier General in July.

 In 1952, Frederick Lowe Johnston was appointed an Ordinary Commander of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, CBE, possibly because of his service with the Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations, Edinburgh City, The Lothians and Peebles. He died on the 12th April, 1971 living his retirement in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian.

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20 hours ago, aussiesoldier said:

He met and married Agnes Fyfe Hunter in 1926 in India. [Her father was Robert Hunter and mother was Jeanie Livingston. She was born on the 16th of September 1868 in Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Her death is recorded as the 7th of January 1946 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland.]

Thank you for this interesting account. One correction, if I may. The Agnes Fyfe Hunter you have identified is, I believe, actually the aunt of his wife - not his wife (if she was, she would have been 58 when she had their daughter). Furthermore, they married in 1920 not 1926. It was the 'aunt' who died in 1946 not the wife (who died in 1968).

The actual dates can be gleaned from the following extract of the marriage register (rather than post the whole sheet, I have posted the extract below and put the date in blue) and the probate register,

2021-02-10_22-24-28.png.da850e036e43e5412c8df2deff56826d.png

None of this detracts from a great piece of research!

Edited by Trooper_D
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