Current Knife Knotes

October 2012

Quote:
"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes."

Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

 

Mark 2 Knives Marked PIC

Precise International Corporation  
Founded 1954 in NYC.  

Early brand was logo of a fist holding three arrows, made by Voos, Schlieper, other contractors. Used until c1966.  

Also used PIC with logo of a mountain peak.  

By the 1960s PIC was in Suffern NY.  

Long the US agency for Wenger of Switzerland.  

In the early 2000s Victorinox financed both Wenger and PIC, to keep Wenger out of bankruptcy, did not want to lose SWISS ARMY KNIFE brand, owned jointly with Wenger.  

Victorinox now owns Wenger.  

PIC seems to be gone, but it was still around a couple of years ago. No longer in Suffern, but somewhere near there.


In a nutshell that is about all I know of PIC but the marking does show up from time to time on inexpensive knives and on a very well made Mark2.

 

The Patton Sabre

Often called the Patton Sabre or the Model of 1913 or shortened to M1913 these sabres were made at the Springfield Armory. In the build up to WW I construction was passed to the Landers, Frary & Clark plant. Collectors use the above monikers for the items but in period Ordnance documents they were calling them the Model of 1917 or M1917. The name never stuck in later documents and the sabres were all lumped together into one naming convention. There are slight manufacturing difference in them and often they can be found with LF&C grips on SA blades or vice versa in some way. Parts are interchangeable and often were in armory repairs. In any case there are differences and they did have different names at one time... just some trivia.

 

Should I Sell Dad’s knife?

This is a question I am asked quite often and it is usually more of a moral question than a straight fact type answer. Here is my new standard answer. "Stick it in a nice shadow box with a snapshot of your dad, a Division shoulder patch, and put it in a place where you can see it every day. Having that knife is about your dad, not about having the knife."

 

The M5 Bayonet Controversy 

When the M5 was first approved and adopted the contracts were put out for bidding as any normal contract was. For some reason Aerial did not win and bidding or construction. They complained to a Congressman that it was not fair. Aerial was later awarded a contract to build M5 bayonets as we know from examples found. Who was the Congressman they complained to? The answer is Gerald R. Ford, later President of the United States. Ford wrote a letter in investigate why Aerial was not awarded a contract. He rose to prominence as the ranking minority leader on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee so he was THE guy to look into improper bidding. Try as I might I can not find any further information on this story. I have contacted the Ford library which holds all of Ford papers and they do not have anything on it. Digging through the National Archives I can not find anything on it. It is a mystery to me. I am not saying anything was done wrong or illegally I just would like to follow the path and see where it leads and why Aerial did not get the first contracts? Any thoughts?

 

Researching an Import Marked Knife

The problem for us today is that most such importers lasted only a few months or years (it is a lot easier to buy knives than to sell them -- especially when all your competitors are selling identical knives), and they left little or no record, except for the knives themselves. It is actually much harder to research obscure knife importers of the 1950s than to research Sheffield cutlers of the 1700s. Sometimes we get lucky, and find a catalog, or an ad in the back of an old magazine, or a retailer who once sold those knives.

 

USMC Officers Sword

Today's U.S. Marine Corps officers' Mameluke sword closely resembles those first worn in 1826. A sword of this type was presented to Marine Corps Lt. Presley O'Bannon by the Turkish viceroy, Kurchet Ahmet Pasha, on December 8, 1804, during the First Barbary War, as a gesture of respect. Perhaps due to the Marines' distinguished record during this campaign, including the capture of the Tripolitan city of Derna after a long and dangerous desert march, Marine Corps Commandant Archibald Henderson adopted the Mameluke pattern for the Corps' official dress sword in 1825, with initial distribution in 1826, and except for the period 1859-75 (when Marine officers wore Army M1850 foot officers' swords) a continuing history of use as of 2012. Tradition.

 

What Were They Thinking?

I have often wondered about all the bolos made prior to and during WWI. The bolo is an inherently jungle tool made for slashing and cutting jungle growth. If was thought up, tested, altered and adopted in the Philippine Campaign which makes perfect sense. It was procured by the military for use in the islands during and after the wars there. It was included into the Tables of Organization for those stationed in those climates. All makes perfect sense. Then there was a little war in Europe that we geared up for, the war to end all wars. So what did we do, we went to incredible lengths to up the production of ... bolos. 

Several clean cut definite achievements by district plants are grouped below. Fifty one thousand bolos were made by the American Cutlery Co of Chicago and only three of them were rejected. The tempering of the bolo knives exemplified mastery in an exacting art. One of the tests was to strike a heavy block of wood a sharp blow without cracking the blade which would have been the result if tempering had left it brittle Another test was to cut a ten penny wire nail in two with one stroke without injuring the cutting edge.  

THE ST LOUIS DISTRICT  Bolos 109,744 
THE CHICAGO DISTRICT  Bolos 47,425
THE PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT Bolos 141,300  

In addition to production totals already cited above, district output shows among other figures the following as of November 11 1918 - 62,000 additional bolos produced.  

Again I ask, what were they thinking?

 

FZR Marked Bayonets

Just some FYI to save as I am asked often.

Fraser Manufacturing Corp
Fraser Manufacturing Corp is a private company categorized under Ordnance and Accessories (Unclassified) Manufacturers and located in Lexington, MI. Our records show it was established in 1946* and incorporated in Michigan*. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $10 to 20 million and employs a staff of approximately 50 to 99.
Business Categories    Metal Fabricators in Lexington, MI. Mfg Ordnance/Accessories Mfg Industrial Machinery Mfg Nonferrous Forgings Nonferrous Metal Foundry*, Site Preparation Contrs

SIC Code and Description    179104, Metal Fabricators

NAICS Code and Description    238910, Site Preparation Contrs

Joseph A Wilhelm       President         M
Sandra Mckever          Controller        F
Cheryl Reid     Human Resources Executive F
Kenneth J Wilhelm     Marketing Executive   M
Rusty Corry    Operations Executive M

 

American Freedoms

One of the great things about America is our right to our own opinions, even when they are wrong. I am all in favor of it and that is my final word on the subject.

 

Were U.S.  Bayonets Issued Sharp??

The debate still rages on. I remember being asked this question in 1980 and I remember asking it in 1970 from a fellow who asked that same question in 1950 from a fellow who worked on the project back in 1942. So as we can see that single question has been around for quite some time. I’m just kidding but the question has been asked over the years and we hope to clear it up here and now. Below is an excerpt from Bayonets, Knives and Scabbards page 18 just for starters.

(j)        Miscellaneous Problems

The question of just how sharp the bayonets should be came up repeatedly.  Requests would come in from the field for a sharper edge. It was found that if too sharp a point or edges were permitted, injuries to the troops were apt to ensue during drill and practice, with the bayonets encased in leather or webbing scabbards as well as when in use on the rifles. To determine just how to have the bayonets sharp enough to please the using arms without being too sharp for safety posed a real problem. After considerable debate, orders were issued to Utica Cutlery Company to make up 15 M1905 bayonets of the desired sharpness, for distribution to the Ordnance Districts and the facilities for use as pilot models to guide inspectors.

 

This debate took place in May 11, 1943 and the orders were issued on May 15, 1943. As May 1943 was the last month of production on the M1905 bayonet I doubt the new sharpness order was actually used on any M1905's produced during the war. With the M1 production just getting into the swing of things and the M1905E1 conversions going full speed ahead you can bet those items fell into the new orders parameters. In March of 1945 Technical Bulletin TB ORD 272 was published with a minimum on the overall length of any bayonets that needed to be repointed.  It did not address the sharpness of the bayonets but did address the way it should be done using only a water cooled stone to avoid heat damage. Again this is post M1905 production. A much earlier reference is given for the M1905 in Training Regulations No. 320-10 dated March 12, 1924 in which it states “...the front or lower edge is sharp along it’s entire length and the back for a distance of 5 inches from the point.” Sharpening stones were issued by Ordnance for hand finishing if needed but only at the armorer level. I have received several letters over the years from men who told me that the result would have been death if they were caught sharpening a bayonet. One fellow related as to how they were given erasers to remove any blemishes on the blade while it was in their care. He stated they would stick it in the sand when no one was watching to avoid the eraser work. This was usually in training or boot camp. Once in the field it was a way to pass the time and can be read in several well known works published both at the time of the war and still today. The first picture that comes to my mind of a South Pacific troop transport is a Marine sitting below deck sharpening a bayonet and then passing along the stone to the next guy. Richard Tregaskis, in his book Guadalcanal Diary described this scene:

Friday, July 31 1942:

     "Some of the lads were sharpening bayonets, which indeed seemed to be a universal pastime all over the ship.  I saw one with a huge bolo knife, which he was carefully preparing.  Others worked at cleaning and oiling their rifles and sub‑machine guns.  Some of the boys had fashioned home‑made blackjacks, canvas socks containing lead balls for 'infighting.'" 

Sunday August 2 

     "In our cabin tonight Capt. Hawkins and I talked over the coming offensive.  He said the men were ready.  All over the ship, he said, he had seen them sharpening their bayonets, oiling their knives, cleaning and sighting along their rifles.  'And they do it without being told,' he said, as if awed by the phenomenon."

And again, this time a reference to usage when already ashore and in the fighting:

"I had dug an L-shaped foxhole along the chicken wire fence line.  This was what I considered a clever new foxhole design that anyone wishing to get at me had to stick his head into the short end of the L.  This put his neck in a convenient position for me to grab it and rip it open with a very keen hunting knife I had bought at Jacksonville.  Before I had gotten the hunting knife, I had owned a hook knife used to butcher hogs, but it was stolen from me.  It was too novel for anyone to resist, it was not long in my possession.  But the hunting knife that replaced this hook knife was adequate to any job, I felt, and I was proud of it.  You cannot easily cut a throat with a bayonet; it was too dull.  It is a stabbing weapon, anyway.  So, most of us bought from our own funds various knives for emergencies, and for cooking.  The bayonet was a can opener, and a good one." A common opinion among the Marines as they did buy a bunch of knives.  

Anyway it seems they were never sharp enough for the end users who would always touch them up given the chance but there was a standard right from the beginning of production for the blades to be sharp, just how sharp is sharp is debatable and probably will be for another couple of generations

 

 

CMSGT Antonio Travis

Did you know the Chief Master Sergeant Antonio Travis was named to the 2010 Time Magazine list of the 100 most influential people? You asked what did he do to deserve this award… with his team of combat veterans, Chief Travis led the largest single-runway operation in history, using hand-held radios to control thousands of aircraft during the Haitian Earthquake relief effort. Chief Travis was one of the first U.S. military members on the ground at the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti, only 30 hours after the earthquake and less than 12 hours after the nation's president requested U.S. assistance. Twenty eight minutes after his team touched down they were operating the control of the Port au Prince airport from a card table in the field. And they did it with no electricity or computers for the next twelve days. How about this, Chief Travis coordinated with Miami FAA officials via text messaging on his Blackberry. His ingenuity paid massive dividends as priority aircraft transited the small airport, delivering lifesaving water, food and medical supplies in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development-led international humanitarian effort. The team controlled as many as 250 aircraft a day, exceeding the normal capacity of the airfield by 1,400 percent without a single incident. The team ensured the safe and effective control of more than 4,000 takeoffs and landings, an average of one aircraft operation every five minutes.

Not a knife or bayonet in site but some amazing operators.

 

Bayonet Drills Eliminated… but bayonets retained

As of March 2010 we are told the Army eliminated bayonet drills from basic training. The bayonet is still issued but the need for it in an organized charge is long past and the new training doctrine believes it to be a waste of valuable time with the recruits. This certainly may be the case as an organized bayonet charge is certainly a reckless use of manpower. It does however leave one thinking about the use in training of the spirit of the blade, the esprit so to speak. It may never happen but not knowing how to do it seems to be a bit close minded to me on the training cadre. Albeit the Army does have an additional trick up their sleeves in this case, the M26. The under barrel M26 shotgun would certainly deliver a better strike then the blade would any day. The M26 has been in use for two years and worked extremely well in Iraq. In an urban setting the shotgun could be used to open doors, try doing that with your bayonet.  

 

Found this interesting bit of US Navy trivia today:  

42-857 - Swords-Abolished as Part of Uniform  

JJ55-3/1510, 15 October 1942  

ACTION: ALL SHIPS AND STATIONS  

1.Officers of the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps, shall no longer be required to possess swords as part of their uniform equipment.  

2.The various uniform regulations will be modified accordingly.  

3.It is expected that a form of dirk will, in due course, be adopted as uniform equipment in lieu of the sword.  

4.Due to the urgent need for metals, it is suggested that officers, who may so desire, turn in their swords for scrap.

-SecNav. Frank Knox.

I have never seen the WW II dirk spoken about so do believe it was just that, a spoken thought. Sure would like to see if any were at least modeled for adoption, maybe even a drawing? I doubt it and this is the way rumors are started...

 

Quote

Generally only someone with a strong emotional attachment to an inherently non-valuable common object will insist upon owning an original and be willing to pay an exorbitant fee to acquire it; others are content with buying replicas.

My friend Bernard Levine, who else…

 

Quote

I wish there were a sarcasm font to use for replies…

Me!

 

Blacksmith Trivia

A smith is a craftsman who shapes metal. A Blacksmith takes his name from the iron or black colored metal he works with, not from the soot that gets on his skin and clothes while he works. A Whitesmith or Tinsmith is one who works with tin or white metal.

 

The Sword of Damocles

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Both Cicero and Horace tell the story of the well known flatterer Damocles, a 5th century court follower of Dionysius I (405 – 367 B.C.) the Elder of Syracuse. Damocles annoyed Dionysius with his constant reference to the rulers great power and consequent happiness. Deciding to teach the sycophant the real perils of power, he invited Damocles to a magnificent banquet surrounding him with luxuries that only a king could afford. Damocles enjoyed the feast until he happened to glance up and see a sharp sword suspended by a single hair pointing directly at his head. After that he lay there cowering afraid to eat, speak or move. The lesson was that there are always threats of danger, fear and worries that prevent the powerful from fully enjoying their power and the expression “Sword of Damocles” has come to symbolize these fears. The phrase also gives us our expression “to hang by a thread” to be subject to imminent danger. I have often seen the sword depicted in drawings having a quite Arabic shape to the blade. Often shown with wings the sword is a powerful symbol. Now we know the full story on it.

 

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