81 Comments

  1. The Soviet army and partisan manuals have techniques for fighting with a sharpened spade, including images inside a trench. Of course, the manuals also include much about bayonet fighting too.

    I’ve got a facsimile of the “clous français” nail. The sheath is a split block of wood, but has leather straps more like the scabbards for the “poignard tranchée” derivative made from rejected Lebel bayonets. Given aggressive patrolling in no man’s land, wiring parties, intelligence gathering, and even full-blown trench raids (capturing a “tongue” in Russian army parlance as far as my understanding goes…) and that firing a shot would draw unwelcome machine gun fire, mortar, rifle grenade, or artillery fire, the need for relatively quiet melée weapons seem fairly clear in WWI. Erich Maria Remarque’s Im Westen nichts neues/All Quiet mentions that German pioneers, as quasi-engineer troops, were issued a saw-backed bayonet that was intended for use as a saw. Entente propaganda, ever ready to expound on the “Hun” and his barbarous nature on display during the rape of Belgium, turned this into an especially fearsome and cruel Teutonic weapon designed to inflict suffering and so on. Remarque has soldiers so equipped instructed by the saltier veteran Fritzes to throw them away at the first opportunity, and that the sharpened spade is the way to go.

    However, this raises a question: Why, given that so few casualties were caused by bayonets in the U.S. Civil War (Miliken’s Bend and some other battles excepted), the Boer War, the War of 1898, and in WWI, have armies proven so reluctant to abandon the things?

    France had a simplified “Rosalie” in the MAS 36. Britain went to a spike “tent peg” for the No.4 Mk.1. Pretty much every nation ultimately went to a field knife that could be fixed on the front of a rifle, but only the Austrian Bundesheer seems to have eliminated the bayonet entirely on first, the FAL, and second, the AUG. What psychological factors–the promotion of aggressiveness or whatever–lead to the bayonet lurching on through the centuries beyond the finicky and unreliable and easily fouled flintlock?

    • Tradition, which still remains a major part of military training and procedures, and the fact that a well designed knife bayonet can also function as a utility and combat knife. Adding a bayonet lug to the rifle does not cost too much, so that has been preserved mostly out of tradition. Most armies stopped any real comprehensive bayonet training sooner or later after WW2. If the use of a fixed bayonet is trained at all, it is usually brief and very elementary.

      During the bolt action era the bayonet still made some sense. Usually you had no more than five or six shots in the magazine and reloading with a clip was not very fast. Cycling the bolt also took some time. So, in a close combat situation a bayonet might occasionally still come handy. In other words, the bayonet was a kind of last ditch weapon very much the same way as pistols were and still are carried by enlisted men. The actual casualties caused by bayonet wounds or pistol bullets was quite negligible in most 20th century wars, but they still made sense as last ditch weapons for the individuals. That said, already in WW2 most armies often did not order “fix bayonets” even when attacking. The Red Army and the Japanese Army were a notable exception.

      When we think of the history of the bayonet, we must remember that it was originally invented to replace the pike for defense against cavalry charges. The pikemen were practically single purpose troops; only rarely did the actually get to use their weapons against enemy musketeers. The elimination of pikemen through the use of bayonets made infantry much more efficient. Still, the main purpose of bayonets in the 18th and early 19th century armies was defense against cavalry. Melee with enemy infantry was very much a secondary use. It only became primary use of the bayonet towards the second half of the 19th century when developing firearms technology made successful cavalry charges less probable. However, just like cavalry charges were expected to happen in WW1 and actually did happen in the Eastern Front, the bayonet was still expected to work as a defensive weapon against cavalry. Only after WW1 the cavalry defense role of the bayonet was mostly relegated to history, albeit armies like the Polish and Red Army still considered it a possibility, since the role of cavalry in the East had been much more prominent during WW1 and the Polish-Soviet War than in the West.

      • At least the Soviets had an admirably simple view: “If bayonets are issued, where should they be?” a) hanging from an already overloaded soldier’s equipment straps, b) fixed to the muzzle of the rifle where it is a “demi-pike” of sorts.

        “If bayonets are issued, when should they be fixed to the end of the rifle?” a) only at the express command of an officer to ‘fix bayonets’ or b) at all times when not in barracks or riding in a train or cart or vehicle…

        The infantry vintovka is three weapons in one: a) aimed rifle fire to smite enemies of the rodina at long range, b) a pointed stick to jab and stab and poke and impale enemies, and c) a club to bash the enemy.

        Certainly the Australians seem to value a bayonet and to actually use them. The British seem to have a real fetish for the things, certainly.

        Of course, the age of the bolt-action repeater coincided with the metalurgy, chemistry, and technological changes that produced rapid fire artillery and the machine gun, so the age of something like 80 percent or more of soldiers armed with bayonetted rifles and other more aristocratic types on ponies waving sabers changed pretty quickly. Peter Englund’s _The Beauty and the Sorrow_ has a dashing Hungarian hussar being retrained as an infantry machine gunner, and of course, by the end of the First World War, something like 40 percent of all soldiers (remaining?) in the French army served in the artillery… Going back farther, we do find that the pike and musket, as you note, served together for quite some time. My limited understanding has it that the Swedes in the Great Northern War had pikemen, and musketeers with bayonets and also swords! A bit of redundancy in the edged weapon scheme I guess.

        • “The infantry vintovka is three weapons in one: a) aimed rifle fire to smite enemies of the rodina at long range, b) a pointed stick to jab and stab and poke and impale enemies, and c) a club to bash the enemy.”
          Mosin rifle were adjusted to fire with bayonet fixed, detaching it would change center-of-gravity and barrel floating, lowering accuracy. Thereof Mosin rifles was used with bayonet fixed even if there was no intention of hand-to-hand combat.

          • Ensuring that an already overly-long and unwieldy rifle was made even longer and more unwieldy! At least the short-stature peasant conscript had more “reach” with his bayonet, and could form a square to ward off cavalry attacks?!

            I note the move to the shorter M38-length-but-retaining-fearsome-stabbing-weapon-spike-bayonet on the M44 karabina Mosina obr. 1944. The SKS in 1949 that immediately replaced the M44 also had a spike bayonet, but then that was changed to a bladed type of semi-fixed bayonet. The Kalashnikov’s wire-cutter bayonet is probably more often used as a wire-cutter, I’d think. 😉 The Chi-coms used the bladed bayonet for the Type 56 SKS, but then in 1965, perhaps part of the Cultural Revolution or whatever, reverted to a spike bayonet, which, unless I’m mistaken, is even longer than the initial Soviet version of 1949?

            At least the Soviets didn’t mount a bayonet on the Shpagin SMG, unlike Japanese practice, where the bayonet went on the Type 100, the Type 96 LMG, the Type 99 LMG, etc.

          • Due to a combination of having come from a martial culture ( comparatively speaking ) as well as extensive bayonet fighting indoctrination, Japanese troops generally had far less hesitation in using the bayonet than most of their Axis and Allied contemporaries. Among the latter, it has been noted that the Australians excelled in bayonet fighting. A well-respected Australian front-line correspondent who endured the worst of the jungle fighting in the brutal New Guinea Campaign alongside the troops ( I believe it might have been Osmar White ) has said that there is something in the otherwise easy-going Australian character that, under the right circumstances, derives great satisfaction from sticking a bayonet into the vitals of an enemy. Certainly, the Australians frequently terrified otherwise stalwart opponents during close-quarters assaults.

      • Weapons, such as the pike, musket and bayonet change tactical roles several times during their use.
        Initially, in the late 15h-early 16th c, the pike was the primary offensive weapon of the regiments. The swiss pike doctrine was extremely aggressive; Divide the army in van, main body and rearguard, and advance to contact. Move directly to the charge, do not stop to fight but push directly into the enemy with your pikes. Momentum, discipline and shock effect will carry the day.
        This worked extremely well at the time, especially since the previous doctrine was based on a relatively small number of fully armored “men at arms”, fighting on foot or horseback as needed, and supported by a proportionately very large number of archers; 3, 4 or more to each man at arms. These would also serve as light cavalry. In the 100 years war, the english had used this organization to great effect, maneuvering on horseback and deploying their archers behind a line of dismounted knights when forced to fight. Attacking a enemy knight with the same equipment and training as you, AND supported by 3 archers is not a good proposition…
        In this doctrine the dedicated melee infantryman is pretty much missing, until they quite literally burst forth from the brushwood in the form of the Swiss. The men at arms, few in number and now mostly returned to their cavalry role, where insufficient to stop the charges, and the armies where overrun.

        The swiss and german pike regiments of the early 16th c had companies of 300 pikemen and 100 Doppelsoldners, the later with free choice of weapons. Many of them where arquebusiers, and would advance with the pikes and fire into the enemy ranks at the last moment.
        Another use for the firearms was, ironically, to protect against heavy cavalry. The fully armored Gendarmes of the day wore the apex of plate armor design, and where more or less impervious even to a lance charge. A firearm, however, could pierce significantly more armor that a lance. When they become available, the heavy cavalry exchange their lances for pistols in the mid 16th c. In this sense, the musket of the late 16th, early 17th c might be termed a antitank cannon; it has a long barrel, relatively small bore, and is fired with a extremely heavy load of powder, in order to defeat the thickened breastplates that would stop earlier firearms. As armor becomes more uncommon as a result, firearms become lighter and shorter once more.
        (an exelent article on this can be found at; https://myarmoury.com/feature_lancepistol.html

        The next step is the spanish infantry, which take over the supremacy after the italian wars. They have a much larger number of firearms, about 1/1. This makes them more tacticaly flexible, as they can stand on the defensive and shoot the enemy formation to pieces before the charge is made. This is the point where the pike starts its defensive role.

        One important thing to note in this development with regard to this development is that the gunner has something that the archer lacks; he is a close combat soldier. This makes a huge difference psychologically. A arquebusier or musketeer tasked to advance to point blank with the melee troops and fire will see it as part of his job. In a sense this is what the bayonet maintains in a musketeer. He might not stab people with it, and one side or the other will either stop or break before hand to hand combat happens. But going forward with you bayonet with the fixed purpose of getting to the enemy is a much more reassuring thought than “go forward real close and shoot at them”. For the same reason, cavalry revert to charging with swords once armor is no longer a concern.
        Ambrose Bierce has a very interesting account on the final stages of a repulsed charge in “iconoclastic memories of the civil war”; https://www.gutenberg.org/files/13541/13541-h/13541-h.htm#picketts , page 290.

        In his “On war”, Clausewitz makes a distinction between fire and close combat, and states that fire combat takes place over time, and has much of the destructive element, but little of the decisive. Close combat, on the other hand, is quick and decisive but causes few casualties in itself as the weaker side flees once they perceive themselves as losers. This is in tune with Johns comment. Casualties also vary largely with the discipline of the troops and the determination of the generals. Some conflicts, like the Seven Years War, have significantly higher casualty rates than other wars fought with the same tech, 20-30% for both sides being quite common in that war, rising to 50% in some battles, like Kolin.

        • Thank you. Very, very interesting and informative.

          I not there is no war film about the age of the halberd equipped man at arms. I think that it would simply get an X rating for sheer horrific, bloody violence. My sense is that arms, legs, heads,etc. would have been flying. Add in the two-handed sword wielded by some ruddy huge Saxon Landschnecht, etc. and things get even bloodier I’m sure. There are films about the period, as I recall, but almost everyone is slain by a crossbow…

          Apparently it was far simpler to train a musketeer than an archer or crossbow arbalest. The crossbow was arguably the most fearsome Spanish weapon during the 1519-1525, erm, “regime change” in Mexico.

          Isn’t there some debate or question about certain aspects of pike-armed infantry? For example, some Spaniards carried shields and swords within the tercios, and like the Roman legionary vs. the sarissa-equipped Macedonian pike-man would close in and start hacking and stabbing within the formation? Also, pike-men in the English Revolution had half armor and helmets, but there were no shields to speak of… So if pike formation met pike formation, how did the whole savage rugby scrim play out? Casualties must have been, again, horrific.

          • Hi, Dave :

            Speaking of two-handed swords and absolutely bloody close-quarters combat, I recall watching quite a few Japanese-made films many years ago that were based on the history of feudal Japan and the wars between competing factions. Those films were quite explicit in depicting the gory and horrific results of the use of katanas, wakizashis, nodachis and assorted spears, battle axes and other weapons.

          • Yes, you are right Earl. Domo Arigato! In fact, even some of the great Japanese films about the long feudal era that don’t involve huge battle scenes–I’m thinking of Kurosawa’s _Ran_/King Lear film here with its epic battle sequence being, erm, “quoted” by Spielberg’s D-Day at Omaha Beach landing scene in “Saving Ryan” but there are others–show just how fast and highly lethal the suite of Japanese edged weapons were. In fact, if I recollect correctly, the black and white 1954 Toho studio film _Sword of Doom_ ends with a fifteen minute take in which an enraged and highly expert swordsman kills 72 people with a katana…

            I don’t know if you’ve noticed that in many of Kurosawa’s contributions to the genre that the main characters are almost invariably felled by matchlock muskets! His classic _Seven Samurai_ for example, has ill-trained militia stabbing brigands with spears, but each of the “seven” is slain with firearms. Also the epic battle scene in Kagemusha or _Shadow Warrior_.

          • Thanks very much for the reply, Dave — and Domo Arigato to you and yours as well! Your mention of Akira Kurosawa’s films has been a most timely reminder that I must get back into viewing them again — thank you. I have always meant to do so but have kept putting it off due to work commitments and sundry other distractions.

          • Helbards are indeed quite quite nasty. A cutting polearm does not even need to be swung very far to be devastating; a skilled user can deliver a lot of power with his back and hips. Most of them are also designed for push cuts or thrusts. When you push the weapon forward, it will hit with the upper point of the axehead. Consider being stabbed with a gigant can opener or seam ripper, and that should convey it. (Some halberds have the axe tips angled forward for this purpose, others are rounded for slicing)
            There are many variants of the halberd, from short brawling weapons to ones pushing 10 feet. The renaissance ones are in the long range of the spectrum.
            Their main advantage is delivering cross strikes as the enemy (or you) push forward, but they lack the reach of the pike or spear. As such they wear consider a more defensive weapon than the pike.

            There are several types of support troops used in the pike and shot era, from firearms to shield and sword men to twohanders. This was a period of development and experimentation. It is also the period where people start to publish books on their experiences and theories, and as such we know quite bit about the theories, which range from practical experience to wild fanboyism and fantastic contraptions. Nothing is new under the sun…

            The sword and shield men where used by the spanish, and some theorists, for instance Nicolo Machiavelli, had great belief in them. Personally I have my doubts as the shields used are to small to give propper cover. They might be useful as maneuver element, wrapping around and threatening the flanks of the enemy square. Turning the corners of a square is a very good way to pin it down, as the center can not advance without exposing their flanks, causing reluctance and confusion.
            The two handed swords seems to have be most common for bodyguards and officers. They are kind of the pump shotgun of the day, really intimidating but not optimal for most combat scenarios.

            Two unbroken pike formations facing each other would indeed be utter carnage. Since there is no shields, making hits is extremely easy, and you have very little defense. Thus, if the formations stop at pike length and “fence”, there will be little or no progress. The doctrine thus stresses pushing straight on, and driving the foe of the field with one shock.
            Which translates to the fight being determined by momentum and morale.

            The mechanics of violent stress applies to both ranged and close combat. The mechanics that caused only 1 in 10 soldiers to take propper aim in Vietnam was described quite fittingly by the ancient greeks; “Of ten men in the phalanx, one should not have been there. eight simply ARE there, and one is a hero, who strives to win.”
            The most common response to violent stress is neither flight nor flight, but Posturing. Acting aggressively without committing. It might be a the aggressive talk and open handed pushes of a potential bar brawl, rioters throwing rocks or a guerilla fighter holding his AK over his head as he fires.
            There are two ways to deal with this; try to create more heroes by a individualistic warrior culture, or develop a doctrine that does not require you to be a hero to do your part.

            Drill is efficient ways to panic. Once you have internalized a drill it becomes you happy place. As a pikeman or musketeer that happy place is moving forward with your unit, pike or bayonet leveled, and in the later case to load and fire directly to the front of the unit. You do not need to be a hero, or even think. The motions suffices.
            In this respect, simple is better. And it does not get any more simple than “point towards enemy, straight at him until you hit.” The couched lance charge is the epitome of this phenomenon. Up until the early middle ages, and everywhere else but europe, cavalry have used their lances two-handed. The arabs where confounded by the crusaders using their lances couched, as it precluded any skill or defense. This is also its advantage. The only important thing is putting your lance in the face of the enemy.
            Let him worry about defense, breaking lances with your faceplate is your favorite hobby…
            Pike or bayonet charges work on the same mechanics, but for infantrymen with drill and discipline instead of a skill, armour and a ego the size of France.

      • A bayonet has some use house-to-house or other close quarters, both for use, and in hindering a hostile from grabbing your muzzle.

        And Hague or no, it’s not uncommon to stick the bodies to make sure they’re dead.

        As far as training, bayonet training teaches aggression and willingness to close with the enemy.

    • Regarding bayonets in the Civil War. In a book I read over 20 years ago(can’t remember title-was in a research library)the author challenged the conventional wisdom that the tremendous CW casualties were due to the increase of weapon lethality since the Napoleonic wars. His assentation was that it was due to lack of
      training on both sides. Not surprising as many regiments were locally raised volunteers. Aside from parade ground drill and how to load & fire,there was no real training in field tactics and the necessity of maintaining momentum in assault, so both sides tended to go to ground when they met and start banging away at each other. which meant the battle dragged on and causalities mounted. There is also the soldiers reluctance to actually use the blade, John Keegan sights cases from Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign where the French & British having run out of bullets began throwing rocks at each other rather close with the bayonet.
      On the Great War- my grandfather never made it overseas but contracted African Sleeping Sickness in the camps. My wife’s grandfather’s unit was actually boarding the troop trains for port of embarkation the day the armistice was announced – they told everyone to go home !

      • In his book <Arms and Equipment of the Civil War(NY; Fairfax Press 1962), Jack Coggins had this to say on the subject;

        The bayonet was carried by the infantry of both sides. It was used as an entrenching tool, can opener, roasting spit, and for a great many other purposes, but seldom as a weapon. Bayonets were fixed before a charge but, as General John Gordon, C.S.A. (who should have known if any man did) wrote;

        “The bristling points and the glitter of the bayonets were fearful to look upon as they were leveled in front of a charging line, but they were rarely reddened with blood.”

        In most cases the rifles of the defenders forced the attackers to halt and begin a fir fight before the bayonet could be brought into play.

        Speaking of a bayonet charge and countercharge, Oscar Jackson, in his Soldier’s Diary, said;

        “Corporal Selby killed a rebel with his bayonet there, which is a remarkable thing in a battle and was spoken of in the official report. (Italics JC’s.)

        Out of 7,302 wounded during part of Grant’s Wilderness campaign, only six were listed as being injured by sword or bayonet.reporting on accounts of Union troops being caught and spitted in their tents at Shiloh, (NY)Tribune correspondent Richardson wrote;

        “No man was bayoneted in his tent or anywhere else to the best evidence I could obtain.

        The day of the bayonet was over.

        -Coggins, p. 29

        The “bayonet charge” of Joshua Chamberlain’s Maine Volunteers downslope at the Confederates at Little Round Top at Gettysburg was in fact an advance at the walk with bayonets fixed, necessitated because the Volunteers were completely out of ammunition. Even then, there was no actual close; the Confederates, who had been getting repeatedly hammered by the Volunteers’ rifle fire most of the day, broke and retreated or surrendered at that point, mostly being out of ammunition themselves.

        The saber’s day was fairly much done as well. While cavalry still carried them, they were seldom used. Generally, if cavalry attempted a classic charge with the arme blanche’ vs. rifle musket-armed infantry, they were cut to pieces by Minie’ balls long before they could close.

        Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson apparently never drew his sword even once; after his death, it was found to be rusted into its scabbard.

        However, the epee’ pattern bayonet was not only not much use in a fight, it was also singularly ineffectual as a camp tool. The almost universal use of “Bowie” knives on both sides had little to do with combat, and everything to do with practicality. The epee’ bayonet, with a needle point but no actual cutting edge, was totally useless for the myriad plebeian chores around a camp, from opening cans of fruit preserves to cutting firewood, for which a strong, heavy, fixed-blade sheath knife is indispensable.

        One of my ancestors, who served with the Ohio Volunteer infantry, stated in his letters home that a Bowie knife, pocketknife, and knife-fork-spoon combination were something every volunteer should provide himself with. The Bowie could be used for all the basic chores, plus cutting light to medium branches for firewood, which eliminated the extra weight of a hatchet in the blanket roll.

        As for the epee’ bayonet, he stated that its only practical uses in camp were as a candleholder, roasting spit, or tent peg.

        World War 1 was a very different combat environment, of course. But it’s worth noting that in the trench siege warfare around Vicksburg and Richmond, there were still few if any men who were victims of “Rosalie”.

        cheers

        eon

        • It is interesting to note, though, that the trench warfare of the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 did nothing to persuade the Japanese away from the use of the bayonet. Quite the contrary, that war and later European experiences from the Great War convinced them that the bayonet was still highly useful in the hand-to-hand phase of combat, which the Japanese deemed to be decisive. Only the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939 seems to have raised some doubts among the Japanese generals, but not enough to bring a major doctrinal changes, although they did acknowledge the need for more firepower in the form of light machine guns.

          So, one could say that the Japanese bayonet training and doctrine was good enough that for them the bayonet remained a useful weapon at least until the (post-)WW1 proliferation of LMGs and the increase in infantry firepower finally made it obsolescent.

          • Or one could say that Japanese generals were as stupid as Papa Joffre… The Japanese killed the most U.S. marines and infantry with small arms fire, chiefly from LMGs in 6.5mm AND 7.7mm along with the grenade dischargers, mortars, and artillery–including AA guns–when they adopted “defense in depth” i.e. try to kill and wound as many U.S. personnel as possible and there’ll be a negotiated settlement rather than “unconditional surrender.” Of course, Japan’s surrender was conditional, but it did not spare Hiroshima or Nagasaki…

          • I agree that the bayonet-heavy close assault doctrine of the Japanese Army was clearly obsolete in WW2 against the Allies, and the Khalkhin Gol battles probably should have revealed them to that fact. However, it seems that at least in the Russo-Japanese war and the war in China it still worked for them well enough.

        • Classic cartoon in Bill Maulden’s UP FRONT WITH WILLIE AND JOE shows Willie siting on the ground with his M1 in one hand, his bayonet in the other, and an astonished look on his face saying, ” Well I’ll be! Hey Joe! Did ya know this here can opener fits on the end of my rifle?”

    • “The Soviet army and partisan manuals have techniques for fighting with a sharpened spade, including images inside a trench. Of course, the manuals also include much about bayonet fighting too.”
      Now English version of this manual exist, it is titled: Destroy the Enemy in Hand-to-Hand Combat: An Authentic Field Manual of the Red Army (Red Army Field Manuals) (author: A.A.Tarasov, translator: Boris Karpa)
      I don’t known whatever it is low or high quality, but you can see other Soviet manual here with photos:
      http://gistory.livejournal.com/39462.html#cutid1
      which how to use bayonet, shovel and knife in combat.

  2. I admit to collecting some bayonets, but with .50 caliber machine guns it seems impossible to get close enough to use it for the intended purpose. Seems like they were left over from the days of lancers.

    • For exemples :
      The last bayonet charge of the french army (french UNO battalion)was in Korea at Twin Tunnels, near Chipyong Ni, against the 125th chinese volunteers division the 1rst february 1951.

      In May 2004, approximately 20 British troops in Basra were ambushed and forced out of their vehicles by about 100 Shiite militia fighters. When ammunition ran low, the British troops fixed bayonets and charged the enemy. About 20 militiamen were killed in the assault without any British deaths.

  3. Real nice stuff.
    I have been doing medieval reenactment combat for bunch of years (in it’s competitive north european form), mainly group combat with a full range of weapons, including spears, axes and so on.

    Your observations are quite good, but I would like to add some of my own.
    In the open, weapon reach is a definite advantage. In the video, and in pretty much all martial art, you start at the distance of the shorter weapon. In a real encounter the distance is set by the striking range of the longer weapon (if his guard is up), and the man with the shorter weapon has to move forward to strike. This gives the longer weapon a “free attack”, and time to evade to maintain distance.
    Unless, of course, he is in a trench knee deep with mud. Closing with a rifleman with his guard up would still be quite perilous, especially since he might shoot you if you hesitate for a second.

    As Karl quite correctly points out, the icepick grip is the most natural and efficient for knifes. The strike from over the shoulder is mankind’s “default attack”, be it with fist, rock, sword or clubbed musket, and the medieval manuscripts dealing with dagger combat uses it more or less exclusively. The regular grip is better for “fencing”, but trading a cut for a thrust is a bad deal. The medieval masters treat dagger as an extension of wrestling rather than fencing.

    In this respect, the spear/baoyonet has another advantage, in that a the bayonet guard is the same as its attack. An attacker raising his arm to strike the diagonal blow exposes himself to a thrust. While we have a instinctive mode of attack,it does not include defence (this is quite apparent when training new sword fighters)
    With a thrusting weapon your guard, attack and defense is more or less the same. Aim your weapon at the opponents face or groin, and jab him if he is close enough. Walk or run towards him, and if he does not move, stab him.
    A spear has a scary amount of punch, and pushing clear through the ribcage of a pig carcas takes almost no effort. A bayonetted rifle is a a lot heavier than pretty much any medieval weapon, and should have even more punch. Even a quick “pool cue”, sliding the weapon in the front hand has plenty power. In fact, soldiers overcommitting and getting stuck is considered a major problem by late writers, such as Hutton.
    Of course, once the adrenaline rises and the heart rate goes into the red, soldiers tend to revert to grab the rifle by the mussle and do the ol’ caveman special…

    While both short and long weapons have their advantages, the good thing is that you do not really have to choose. Weapons such as those you show are perfect backup weapons. As a spear or daneaxe fighter I often carry a knife for quick draw. If I get rushed or the situation calls for it, grabbing the knife is a split second thing. Left hand on the primary, knife in the right, and you are ready for anything.

  4. For exemples :
    The last bayonet charge of the french army (french UNO battalion)was in Korea at Twin Tunnels, near Chipyong Ni, against the 125th chinese volunteers division the 1rst february 1951.

    In May 2004, approximately 20 British troops in Basra were ambushed and forced out of their vehicles by about 100 Shiite militia fighters. When ammunition ran low, the British troops fixed bayonets and charged the enemy. About 20 militiamen were killed in the assault without any British deaths.

    • Long hair for men is allowed in the Swedish Army, which for a long time used to be a source of somewhat derogatory jokes among Finnish Army conscripts and reservists. Short hair is of course more practical in field conditions, but otherwise such jokes are just result of cultural and hsitorical ignorance. In many cultures long hair has been associated with (male) vitality, of which the Samson story in the Bible is a good example.

      • Before conscription was abandoned, the Danish army allowed men with long hair to wear a hair net under their garrison cap or steel helmet as if they were food service workers! Well, why the hell not? Shaved heads are so, erm, Prussian and Soviet. Of course, on the other hand, given that soldiering and being lousy are a time honored tradition, perhaps shaved heads has a purpose aside from some kind of ritual humiliation and negation of personal identity, hmm?

        Brits and French officers had to cultivate mustaches in the 19th C, or even pencil one on if one could not be grown!

        • I always assumed that the primary reason that militaries started mandating shaved-headed soldiers (ditto for many prisons) was for lice control — a widespread challenge in the pre-pesticide era — and then having the practice morph into “tradition” as the original reason for short-haired soldiers had long since faded from memory.

          And perhaps it was coincidence that the apex of trench warfare and massive infantries came about at around the same time as the electric hair trimmer came into prominence. As well as being an era when ‘modern science’ made people increasingly aware of the correlation between hygiene and diseases that were historically attributed to erroneous causes.

          Military conscripts back then didn’t just lose their hair — they were routinely forcibly circumcised as well!

  5. A sword, machete, kukri, edged bayonet, spike bayonet, sharpened spade ( trench shovel ) or other similar weapon, when properly used in close quarters fighting with the right training, is still a formidable weapon that can inflict terrible wounds. There is also a significant psychological effect involved in such desperate hand-to-hand situations since there seems to be an innate horror within the human psyche about being slashed, disemboweled or stabbed deep in the vitals. The old-style spike bayonet, while less useful as a general-purpose tool compared to a modern edged bayonet, inflicted truly severe deep puncture wounds within the body that were, and still are, difficult to treat.

    • Quote: “The old-style spike bayonet, while less useful as a general-purpose tool compared to a modern edged bayonet, inflicted truly severe deep puncture wounds within the body that were, and still are, difficult to treat.”

      Even if such wounds are seldom, if ever, inflicted. Certainly in the age of inefficient and haphazardly reliable muskets prone to all manner of malfunctions and mishaps, this was certainly the case. The British soldier equipped with bayonet even bested the Highland Scot swordsman.

      Most bayonet wounds likely as not proved fatal and may have been “undercounted” but my sense is that these wounds were most likely inflicted on previously wounded soldiers. Certainly the WWI British employment of “bombers” (mustn’t upset the actual “Grenadier Guards” by referring to anyone armed with grenades a “grenadier” old boy) called for “bayonet men” to round the traverse after the explosions… I suspect that these were actually “knobkerrie” or “cosh” or “bludgeon” men rather than bayonet men, eh what?

  6. Prior to WWi, there had been something of an arms race between the French and German armies, over increasing lengths of bayonets.

    Each side’s bureaucrats wanted a bayonet long enough to outreach the other side’s. Neither set of bureaucrats ever considered how impractical a long bayonet might be in an actual fight – hence the improvisation of trench weapons by the poor buggers and idealistic suckers who got sent to fight.

    Prior to Brits using bayonets in Basra

    The loss of vehicles and supplies when the ships carrying them to the Falkland Islands were sunk, lead to the final assaults of the Falklands conflict in 1982, being carried out with fixed bayonets.

    I don’t think that the psychological effects of bayonets were lost on the half starved and frozen, teenage Argentinian conscripts. Poor sods.

    • My favorite is the practice of giving a truly enormous and fearsome Yataghan bayonet to soldiers equipped with a shorter rifle or carbine. The Swedish M1894 carbine is perhaps a perfectly ludicrous example, among many. Certainly for “riot control” by unruly, obstreperous workers in revolt or on strike, this likely cowed people into submission. In Brazil, watching disturbances in São Paulo on the TV, the ROTA riot squad had horse-mounted troopers in all the de rigeur body armor, helmets with face shields, etc. like riot squads everywhere, but carrying *sabers* like the Cossacks of old.

  7. “If I remember correctly,”, I ALWAYS went in with a bayonet AND a custom made Bowie knife (personal weapon and I still have it) and on almost all occasions a modified hatchet or traditional tomahawk. The Bowie was razor sharp on both the blade and the hook enabling both or either a forward and/or reverse slash without rotating the knife. Our group was trained by Chinese Communist experienced combat trainers who had defected. They were very proficient in the art. In practice, such an encounter involving a bayonet usually lasted three (3) seconds or less and included a butt-stroke to the head, a butt smash to the center (nasal structure area) of the face combined with a reverse kick to the upper leg just above the knee joint (broken thigh bone), and then the final thrust through the heart/ribcage. If you could not break a sound pine 2X4 with the reverse kick, you were given additional strength training. With the knife/tomahawk scenario, I would use either one or the other or both. If both, the knife was used in the weak-hand grip with the tomahawk or hatchet in the strong-hand grip. These encounters were likewise very short, usually less than 3 seconds, in duration. A very effective tactic when using both was to “hook” the opponent behind the neck with the tomahawk and pull them forward onto the knife … much better penetration. With the knife, forget the John Wayne scenario of muffling the mouth with the weak hand and cutting the throat with the blade … you could hear the gurgle for a hundred yards on a still night. Instead, go for the kidney thereby paralyzing the opponent with pain and shock. The hatchet/tomahawk was well used in a sentry removal by a blow to the center of the back of the head or the juncture of the neck-spine “node” at the top of the shoulders thereby disconnecting their central control center from the rest of the system. Another very effective procedure was to use a crossbow with rubber “spider nests” to dampen the bowstring sound. Unraveled parachute riser cords worked about as well. It also helped to use rubberized glue to “encapsulate” the string strands and deaden the sound even further. Another practice for sound deadening was with full-length serving of the string. The preferred frontal target was just above the clavicle bridge and into the lower thyroid preferably penetrating the upper-spine/lower-neck structure on exit. I do not know of any other group who used the crossbow, but I hear that the Montagnard were proficient with theirs. They were supposedly “used by the Serbs in ambushes and as a counter-sniper weapon against the KLA in the Pec and Djakovica areas in the south west of Kosovo.” As reported from one source. Silent and deadly! Likewise, The Indian Marine Commando Force (MARCOS) are also reported to use them and there are photos of this. Likewise, they are used by the Chinese Police and the Turkish Special Forces and the Peruvian military. (https://www.quora.com/Are-bows-used-by-any-modern-military-unit-in-combat). While the traditional center-element/replaceable blade hunting tips will usually not penetrate modern soft body armor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L7DEkpzetI), in my experience the older traditional English Bodkin 3-blade tip usually will. The Gurkhas were very proficient with their Kukri (traditional Gurkha combat knife) in hand-to-hand combat. If they could run the opponent out of ammo would lay down their rifles and draw their Kukris to finish the battle. Opponents were NOT anxious to meet them in this combat scenario.

    • Germane to WWI, the Indian Marine Commando has not only a crossbow, but a German-designed 9mm submachine gun (admittedly an MP5 not an MP.18…) and *two Mills bombs!*

    • Bill, very interesting perspective. Forgive my asking, but how much external bleeding is there on a kidney thrust? Obviously extensive internal bleeding, but I always wondered how much was evident externally. While I received instruction in the technique, thank God I never had to use my training.

      • It depends on the blade; with a broad-bladed knife there is a great deal of blood loss (remember that with bladed weapons other than slashing swords and arrows the means of death is usually blood loss) but with a thin-bladed knife (“Arkansas Toothpick” like the Randal Model 13) or the Fairbairn-Sykes “British Commando” fighting knife do not make as large an incision/entry wound so the bleed-out is mostly contained within within the body cavity. The main advantage is the almost instant paralysis due to both pain and shock. This helps preclude any cries or alerting of other enemy in the area. But always remember that there are several components to hand-to-hand combat and a major one is being close enough to each other to see the expression of your opponent. And you have to be able to see the light fade in his eyes when he dies. It is a LOT different than one-shot kills at 1500 meters where you do not even know what your opponent looks like. And if you ever get to the point where it no longer bothers you, it is time to go home. I did.

  8. When I was a kid, I bought a Swedish army spade. My granddad, who served as a PaK-40 loader in FDF in WW2, sharpened it so that I could have been able to shave my beard! (at least, if I had had one) He might have seen a lot of use of spade as melee weapon… I used it to chop pine rootstocks.

  9. The bayonet’s role in modern warfare is crowd control against both civilians and POWs. Troops have for a long time have been reluctant to use the bayonet. One story from WWI is that the order to fix bayonets was ignored by both sides and soldiers instead resorted to throwing rocks at each other. A British sergeant was actually killed during the exchange when he was struck in the head.

  10. We still had bayonet training in the US Army in 1970. I can not speak to how extensive the training was compared to older times since I only went through it once.
    One funny thing in training – we were told they used to train troops to yell “Kill” as you thrust into the training dummies but we were told we were NOT allowed to say that.
    We were also not allowed to go on a run over a certain distance (I forgot how far) within one hour after meals.
    And drill sergeants were not allowed to hit or even touch you without your permission – (Hint – you are better off giving him permission when asked).

    • Well nonobadog, by the late 80s the “Kill” battle cry was back. Combatives training may or may not have been truncated somewhat from the past, I cannot gauge that. The M16A1 I trained on was definitely not ideal for bayonet use, as a firearms repair specialist friend revealed to me. A Ranger brought a small gym bag full of mangled parts to be salvaged. Apparently, after thrusting the target and ripping up ( which this rather strapping young man managed to bend the barrel, fracture both hand guards, and crack the upper receiver), the butt stroke to the head then splintered the butt stock broke the buffer tube and cracked the lower receiver. Admittedly the average snuffy is unlikely to do that much damage!

      • Hi, CaptEndo :

        It was very interesting to read about the smashed M-16A1 parts from bayonet fighting practice in your post. Thanks very much for sharing! It actually doesn’t surprise me at all that that Ranger was able to incur so much damage with the rifle since the M-16A1 was my standard-issue weapon when I was “in”. Among other issues, one of the biggest problems we encountered with the M-16A1 was the relative fragility of the FRP furniture — it was hard, but thin-walled and brittle, which meant that subjecting it to any significant impacts would result in stress fractures and complete breaks. Bayonet fighting puts a great deal of stress of this exact type on any firearm, and so it comes as no surprise that the M-16A1 suffered a lot in this area.

        I never managed to fracture the upper receiver or bend the barrel, but I did end up doing all the other damage that you mentioned, to which we could add a bent front sight tower and twisted gas tube. There was also constant grumbling among the “old-timers” among us to that effect, and every one of them wanted their L1A1 SLR’s back for this and other reasons ( mostly related to overall durability, range and firepower ), never mind having to put up with the additional heft and weight of the SLR.

        It is fortunate that the M-16A1’s descendants have much-improved general durability, and a caveat to this is that so many current owners of these modern-day rifles and carbines tend to take things for granted since they will never fully understand the hard-won developmental processes that have enabled them to enjoy what they have.

        • In the 70s I saw at a surplus dealer/collector friend’s house a PILE of RUBBER M-16s. When I asked he told me they were used in training BECAUSE the issue weapons were too fragile for Boot Camp.

          • My high-school buddies who joined up used the rubber M16s for bayonet training: “Q: What is the purpose of the bayonet? A: KILL! KILL! KILL!”

  11. Nice episode. In France, the Trench Raiders, we call them “Trench cleaners”. Means that they really “clean” the trench of ennemis…

  12. Good video Ian. We have a number of such weapons in the collection. One if the British combat E-tool heads was actually designed by the Royal Engineers & issued.

    The French actually reissued their old M1833 boarding knives & even butcher’s knives.

  13. Probably the nastiest knife/bayonet style weapon in actual combat was the WW2 Smatchet;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smatchet

    It was well-designed for both cutting and thrusting, and was heavy and sharp enough to decapitate a man if brought into contact with the neck at speed. It was used by SOE, OSS, Commandos, and Rangers.

    And yes, such a blade was indeed also used as a bayonet, to wit the U.S. M1915 bolo bayonet;

    http://www.rockislandauction.com/photos/55/p_standard/LDH11-G-O1-O.jpg

    About 6000 were made and issued, plus quite a few more of a modified M1917 model. There were previous models in 1908 (56 known to have been made) and 1909 (102 known), but the ’15 and ’17 were apparently the only ones which saw actual combat in the trenches.

    cheers

    eon

    • One of the other (than the “Bowie”) knives I used and still have is an original Bowie Axe with the original sheath. And it is NOT a throwing knife as far as I am concerned! There was no problem to decapitate someone with it with one swipe. The M48 Tactical Tomahawk is, it appears, now issued but the Vietnam Tomahawk was the original one most used during that period. Mine was a head bought from Dixie Gun Works in the late 1950s and had a handle I made from a Hickory tree stave. It was a “Hammer Head” design instead of a “Spike Head” like the M48. The story of the modern Military Tomahawk can be found at the website http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90038&page=1.

  14. Soldiers of yesterday were expected to be good at CQB when low on ammo or when reloading was near impossible while most “irregular forces” today seem to spray and pray in the hopes of reducing the other team to hamburger and not have to get personal. Therefore, I suppose ISIL would hate to run into a certain company of battle hardened Polish soldiers from WWII who nearly EXTERMINATED an entire Panzer division using only bayonets in the middle of the night in 1939 (I know you guys will scream “Time Paradox” at me)…

    Given a choice, what do you grab after having run out of ammunition in the middle of a nighttime trench brawl? Your rifle was knocked away earlier and your sidearm is empty. And please get off my foot if you’re standing on it. It’s a bit crowded in here…

    1. bayonet (still in the scabbard on your belt)
    2. Sykes knife and a conveniently loaded S&W M1917 or FN Model 1903
    3. officer’s katana if you’re battle crazed
    4. CQC an enemy’s primary weapon out of his hands and shoot him with it (or stab him with it)
    5. conveniently placed Stevens 520-30 or wz.28
    6. Shovel or pickaxe
    7. flare gun and/or stick grenade satchel
    8. Bergmann MP-18 or insane 1500-volt electroshock glove (zap, you’re it!)
    9. Field telephone: “ARTILLERY MY POSITION!!!!”
    10. Hijack a tank!
    11. Or per the usual, screw the budget and add your favorite toys to this list!

    This activity is completely voluntary. You aren’t required to partake in this “bar fight” if you do not wish to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you.

    Cherndog

    • Excluding firearms, the katana is a good weapon, but an old-fashioned longsword is better, simply because it has two sharpened edges and thus can cut in any direction with a slashing stroke. Note that the longsword is a bit lighter than the classic broadsword, and thus can reasonably be wielded one-handed if necessary.

      In an actual bar fight, a heavy knife is probably superior to the sword, simply because there’s less room to maneuver.

      Of course, if your name is Captain Kronos, Late Of The Imperial Guard, that’s not a problem.

      😉

      cheers

      eon

      • Well, FYI, one of the greatest commandoes in all history carried a Claybeg. John Malcolm Churchill (not related to Winston, mind you) was one of the most eccentric soldiers of World War II, going into battle with his obviously-not-ceremonial Scottish broadsword, bagpipes, and a longbow. He is the only British soldier to head-shoot a German NCO near Dunkirk (or perhaps before that) with a longbow arrow, after which “fighting Jack’s” friends popped out of the nearby bushes to gun down the troops from that unlucky victim’s unit…

        • “John Malcolm Churchill (not related to Winston, mind you) was one of the most eccentric soldiers of World War II”
          See also Adrian Carton de Wiart:
          http://badassoftheweek.com/index.cgi?id=30045813384
          -other eccentric soldier of British Empire fighting in WWII (and almost any war in which British Empire take part in late 19th century / first half of 20th century from Second Boer War through WW1, Polish-Soviet War to WW2).
          Some quotes:
          Frankly, I had enjoyed the war (thought about WW1)

          Governments may think and say as they like, but force cannot be eliminated, and it is the only real and unanswerable power. We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.

      • I live about 30 miles from Natchez, Miss where Jim Bowie had his famous/infamous Sand Bar Duel of old. In actuality, his knife in that fight was a butcher’s knife that he borrowed from a local butcher shop and had a local blacksmith hammer-weld a tang/handguard onto. If memory serves, according to the son of one oh his slaves, Uncle Tom Bowie, the actual Bowie Knife had not been made at that time. And on another note, an area man is reputed to have the original Bowie knife in his collection. He reportedly got it from a family in Mexico along with documentation that the ancestor of the seller had taken it off of Bowie’s body after the battle at the Alamo. The original letters were written, or so it is said, by a Mexican priest attached to Santa Anna’s army at the time.

        • Very interesting! Here in Texas, a frequent trade good encountered in the old Spanish-era records is the Belduque, an enormous knife. The northernmost frontier of New Spain/Mexico saw employment of lances, the espada ancha (short sword), knives and daggers of all kinds, axes, hatchets, leather buff coats for armor against arrows, and the re-use of the very old Moorish-derived “adarga” or targe shield, made from several layers of rawhide. Much like a Comanche war shield.

          Jim Bowie married María Ursula de Veramendi in Bexar, and worked in Saltillo and Monclova, where his young bride died during one of the periodic world-wide outbreaks of cholera. In the Rio de la Plata region, there is the “facón/facão” gaucho knife, typically worn by cattlemen behind the back in a belt. The lineage to the Belduque is evident there as well.

          I always knew that the U.S. frontier was a blade culture, and assumed that the Bowie knife was a separate development from the old Belduque, but your post is food for thought about the different knife designs of the early period. Very interesting! Thanks!

    • Uh, well, “Švejk’s anabasis” from the novel by Jaroslav Hašek is my idea of WWI, thankyouverymuch… If, and I do mean if, I was stuck in an over watch position in some dismal, dank trench, and I wasn’t evacuated for one or another reason, and I found myself out of pinard or grappa or schnapps or the company’s rum in the scenario you describe: “Smatchet or submachine gun?” SMG, please!
      a) Pedersen device
      b) Remington Model 10 “trench gun” •ahem, sans bayonet, s’il vous plaît, with 00 buck.
      c) MP.18
      d) C96 Mauser with shoulder stock
      e) One of those hideous trench maces

      Fortunately, at my age, I’d be operating a narrow-gauge railway someplace armed with a Wänzl or Werndl or Vetterli or Long Lee or Gras/Remington Rolling block or Mauser commission rifle or what-have-you … with a ridiculously long bayonet included to defend myself from 150s, 310s, 420s, and other such enormous artillery shells plopping down… 🙁
      To say nothing of poison gas…

    • “(…)while most “irregular forces” today seem to spray and pray in the hopes of reducing the other team to hamburger(…)”
      This reminds me of Ork race from Warhammer 40k (universe where too much is just enough), basically spray and pra… spray and spray more guys. As they would say ‘ERE AIN’T NO SUCH ‘FING AS ENUFF DAKKA!!!!

  15. In McBride’s A Rifleman Went to War, his chapter on trench raiding is a must read. Really the whole book is a must read. People usually think of the book as being about sniping, but there are sections on trench raiding and on the use of the machine gun as well. He was a member of the US national guard who could not wait for the US to enter the war so he went to Canada so he could enlist. His experiences were also from earlier on in the war. He does describe some of the inhumanity of it all and has a long list of brothers in arms who never made it back. Despite that his enthusiasm for fighting is apparent in the book and that should probably be borne in mind in what he writes.

    By his description trench raiding started out as small affairs, and then became more organized. The first step was to try to form an idea of what the enemy trenches looked like, from observer airplanes to descriptions from snipers. Then, preferably during a “cold driving rain” at night two men would go out fist to cut wire. Then a dozen or more men would follow and split into groups of three or four. They were to be armed with grenades, bayonets (in the hand, not on a rifle–rifles were left behind), and all the pistols they could find. He said nothing about clubs–maybe that was later on in the war? On the way over they raiders would risk running into patrols. Raiding the trench started with grenades and ended with hauling out prisoners, it would be all over in about three minutes. Harassment of the Germans and taking prisoners was the objective.

    Later on the Germans started doing their own raids in return. According to him they were very methodical about it and were somewhat predictable as their raids would usually follow artillery bombardments. He did relate that the Germans tried putting pencil flashlights on their rifles for night raids, but at least one German was shot when his light made him a target.

  16. Fascinating, this reminds me of the tomahawk in “the patriot”. I wonder what things must have been like during the French and Indian wars.

    • The historical interpreters/blacksmiths at Historic Williamsburg Va. make it a point to stress, despite what you saw in movies, the 18th century American soldier
      NEVER threw his tomahawk because then you were disarmed.

  17. Wow! That’s a serious epidemic of comments to an interesting (if un-technical) video!
    Just a few points:
    1 – Triangular section bayonets were in use at least as far back as the start of the 18th century and carried on to the Mosin-Nagant bayonet. The object was to obtain a rigid but not too heavy blade that produced wounds that are very difficult to heal, precisely for being triangular. This seems to have been a well known medical fact at the time, and there were no conventions against this. If the wound did not start healing quickly gangrene set in and you’re a gonner. The tips of these blades are flat, more knife-like.
    2 – The fixation with long bayonets comes from infantry forming square in defense against cavalry, fine up to the first half of the 19th century, pretty dated afterwards, except that the European powers were busy fighting various native insurgents armed with spears, assegais and the like and the long blade made an impression, so it was kept. If anyone has any sound data on the use of the bayonet during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 please share. The US Civil War is exceptional in many counts and marks the turning point in many aspects of warfare, but long bayonets were still very much in evidence. As we all know post WWI bayonets settled on much shorter blades, 8″ or 10″ which were just useable as fighting knives, although with poor grips and balance, until the Bowie-blade bayonet for the No.5 rifle and beyond.
    3 – I still have my Fairbairn-Sykes knife, and like the man said above, you go for the kidney producing massive and silent shock from severing the arteries in the area, you cover the mouth (the victim’s) with the other hand to pull the body weight onto the knife, and do it quickly, over his rifle or grab it before it clatters to the ground.
    4 – I have an entrenching tool with a handle much like the one Ian shows, except that it has on the other end a stub of steel rod with lugs that replicates the muzzle of the No.4 Lee-Enfield rifle, so you could fix that rather pathetic toothpick affair to the handle and go prodding people in the dark. It cannot have been popular, I bought this entrenching tool for the odd camping job but it’s not much use for that either. It seems once the British settled on a truly bad design they held on to it for decades. Nothing beats a proper spade or pick, which is why you see so many Tommies post-Normandy with a shovel in their belts. The one that goes with 58 pattern webbing is lighter and more practical but it still takes ages to get dug in, and the sooner you’ve dug your hole the later you are likely to get shot.

  18. One last post and then I will be quiet for a while: when you take a man’s life (up close and personal” it changes you. And if you do it often enough you develop what is now called the “Mark of Cain Syndrome” where you wonder if others can tell what you really are just by looking at you. It doesn’t really bother you, but you wonder. I gad heard Col. Charles Adkins speak of this before; he had killed 28 men, if memory serves, and said that in reality he missed it. He tried hunting all over the world but it was just not the same. He also said that this number was of “white men” and did not include the Hispanics and African Americans (not his words for these two groups)in this number. I know that I still often wonder about this even after over a half century; not that it bothers me, but I wonder. Does it bother me; no. Am I ashamed of it; no. Would I do it all over again if need be; yes. Have I had this type of encounters since leaving service; yes. Will I ever be the same again;no. It was just something that someone had to do at the time and I appeared to be good at it, eventhough there was no indication of this prior to this time, so it fell to me. But it really bothers me to see young people playing a game of it. War really is about as close to Hell as you can come while still on Earth and the “up close and personal” times never quite leave you. They become part of what you are now. Apologies, but it needs to be said from time to time.

    • Hi, Bill :

      I think there are more of us here who understand than one might suspect. You didn’t ask to be put in those situations, it just happened that way. We all like to think that we are in so much control of our lives, but the reality is that we are not. As for unknowing youngsters thinking it’s all a game of some sort, has anything ever really changed? And you are quite right — it must be said from time to time, lest we forget too easily.

  19. To the best of my knowledge, owning both, the trench knife with the triangular blade is the Model of 1917, whether it is flanged or stamped. The sheath is the Model of 1918. The unrelated Model of 1918 trench knife is the dagger with the brass knucks.

    • I believe Ian is correct in the video;

      Model of 1917 (triangular blade)
      Model of 1918 (triangular blade, improved hilt)
      Model of 1918 Mark 1 (brass hilt, knife blade)

  20. I would tend to disagree with the suggestion that many of the hand weapons showcased in this video were developed for WWI-era trench warfare.

    For instance, that ‘metal “gear” on a club’ weapon in the video instantly struck me as a common medieval mace (if that’s even the right word, as there seems to be an elaborate terminology of these ancient hand weapons — a fact I’ve often been reminded about, knowing more “sword nerds” than gun nerds 😉

    Just as American history buffs tend toward firearms whenever they think of historical weapons, it seems their European and Japanese counterparts tend to think of pre-firearm hand weapons as defining their own cultural history.

    As such, there would have been many old hand-fighting weapons and techniques, developed over centuries of close-combat warfare (particularly fighting in the haphazard, shockingly-narrow alleyways that ran through many ancient towns and cities), etched in people’s minds, ready to be reintroduced to the battlefield for the “modern” technique of trench warfare.

    … just my 2¢ of idle speculation. Excellent comments here. Perhaps with such a high level of reader interest on display, ForgottenWeapons will have more segments focused on non-firearm weapons and the “lost” art of using them 🙂

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