knife knotes part iV
This week we have a common theme, it just sort of worked out that way, no such plans were made ahead of time. Scabbards, no one seems to talk much about them but they do complete the set.
The scabbard referred to above assigned to Maxim was for the U.S. M1917 bayonet. While the name Maxim is usually associated with the German fielded Machine Gun of the First World War is must be remembered that Hiram Percy Maxim was an American inventor living in Hartford Connecticut. The patent application was filed on 20 June 1917 under serial number 175,762. The final Patent was assigned 20 Aug. 1918 under Patent number 1,276,554. Three detailed drawings accompany the Patent. This is for the early style scabbard with the Model 1910 belt hanger wire with the leather hanger as made by Graton & Knight and Jewell in 1917. By the time the Patent was granted the U.S. had already abandoned that style hanger and moved onto a stronger arrangement. Over three million of these scabbards were made, but the Maxim designed model with the leather belt hanger is exceedingly difficult to come by in nice condition. It is assumed very few were made before the U.S. switched production. Incidentally the Patent was assigned to the Maxim Silencer Company, creators of Maximís other toys he supplied to the Ordnance Department. Sir Hiram had a lot of equipment on the battlefields of France, on both sides no less! I wonder how many others can proclaim that?
Click on the thumb nail below to see the full size actual Maxim Patent drawing.
Milwaukee Saddlery Company
While looking into some information on the M6 scabbards I ran across this information on Milsco. Reproduced here for your viewing pleasure.
"Carl T. Swenson founded Milsco in November of 1924. Milsco at that time manufactured and sold harnesses, collars and other accessories for farm horses. The original name of the company was Milwaukee Saddlery Company. In 1934, at the request of Harley Davidson, Milsco helped develop a new two passenger motorcycle seat called the buddy seat. A few years later Milsco then designed and produced a leather saddlebag. A plastic saddlebag soon followed that. Through an employee suggestion, Milsco designed a tractor seat with a foam pad and leather cover in 1936. This was a new breakthrough since most tractor seats consisted of a metal pan and nothing more. It was submitted to International Harvester who offered the seat as an option for their equipment in 1937. 37,000 seats were sold the first year. Milsco had a large role in producing military products for the government to support World War II. In fact, Milsco management made the decision in September of 1940 to stop manufacturing farm harnesses and collars so the company could solely focus on these military items. For their efforts the company was awarded the Army-Navy E award. After World War II, the harness business was sold to Sears, Roebuck & Company and the companyís name was changed to Milsco Manufacturing Company. During this time Milsco expanded its range of seating products to include military, construction, and industrial vehicles. Milsco also got involved in producing some interesting and unique items such as: leather belts, kidís toys, abacusís for school use, teacarts and even film processors. Milsco started Swenson Company in Redgranite, Wisconsin in 1966 to produce all the foam cushions used in Milscoís seats. With the addition of Swenson Company, Milsco soon developed seats for turf care vehicles and other recreational vehicles. In 1988 a joint venture between Milsco and Diplomat Technico created Milsco Diplomat in Coventry, England. This was the start of Milscoís presence in the European market. A few years later, Milsco bought out Diplomat Technicoís share of this joint venture. Milsco Manufacturing Company, along with Swenson Company and Milsco Diplomat all became part of Jason Incorporated in January of 1995. In 1997, Milsco opened a sales office in Paris. Today all branches of the company use the Milsco name exclusively. Currently all of our facilities are heavily involved in the manufacturing and assembly of our products. We are proud to be a producer of seats for such companies as: Harley Davidson, John Deere, Caterpillar, Case, New Holland, Textron, Kubota, Ingersoll-Rand, Toro and many others." Milsco was the largest producer by far of the M6 leather scabbards, 140,494 contracted for at $0.5775 a piece. We only wish... hey we can dream canít we! Seats for Harleyís ...... My kind of people!
Lyon & Coulson
While digging around on the Milsco background I looked into Lyon & Coulson. As I had never heard of them supplying any other scabbards I was really interested in what else they did. They did supply rucksacks and field combat packs to the Army but that was all I could find. Seems they were a rather large sporting goods retailer in Buffalo, New York. One item that seemed to pop up on every search I conducted was fishing poles. Old bamboo poles can certainly bring in the big bucks today much like collectable knives, Lyon & Coulsonís name appears on several of these items. From what I gather they did not make the items but rather retailed items which possessed their name. Nothing to prove it but I wonder, did they make scabbards or did they have them made and resell them to the government? It would be a hard feat to accomplish as they were the lowest bidder in the M6 scabbard production at $0.47 each. The total production they were awarded was 40,000. Anyone have anything to add to this discussion? How about an old L&C catalog, it would be nice to turn one of those up just for reference on the company. Anyone have additional information on the company and itís disposition?
What the hell, while we are at it letís list them all. We donít believe it is in print any place else so we shall make it so.
Milwaukee Saddlery (Milsco) 140,494 @ $0.5775 each.
Lyon & Coulson (L&C) 40,000 @ $0.47 each.
Service Boots & Leggins (S.B.L.) 35,200 @ $0.595 each.
L.J. Barwood (Barwood) 29,000 @ $0.6483 each.
Viner Bros. (Viner Bros.) 28,000 @ $0.60 each.
Moose River Shoe Co. (Moose Co.) 28,000 @ $0.74 each.
That leaves us seven (7) short of the reported 300,701 produced in total. That means we have to recount them again, let's just send them all to Florida!
Detroit Gasket Manufacturing Co. M3 scabbards
The original contract to Detroit Gasket and Manufacturing Company dated November 17, 1941 was for 450,336 M3 scabbards. This contract was to end in February 1943, with full production rate to be 60,000 per month beginning in the fall of 1942. Contract # 374ORD 1293 was completed on 6/1/1943. It was the only contract they had which totaled over $50,000. The sideways "S" with the line through it on the scabbards throats is the makers mark for Detroit Gasket. The price for an M3 scabbard from Detroit Gasket was $0.66 each. Try to get one for that price today!
Columbian Rope Co.
Never heard of them?? Canít say I blame you on this one. Columbian Rope Co. was located during the time in Auburn, New York and they reported to the Rochester New York Ordnance District. They were awarded a small contract (1,000 items) to make M3 scabbards on 12/16/1941. The price was $1.00 each which was much higher then the two competitors, Beckwith Mfg. ($0.79 each) and Detroit Gasket ($0.66 each). I wish I knew how to tell you what to look for on these things to tell the difference but I havenít a clue. I know they were issued a contract but do not know if it was completed. According to Bayonets, Knives and Scabbards (Yes that is a shameless plug) they were completed but not satisfactory to procure more of them. Seems the plastic they were using was much too brittle, more so then even the Detroit Gasket scabbards. Tests were conducted at Rock Island on the various scabbards then being produced and prototype test items alike. I have never seen this test but would sure like to get my hands on a copy. Anybody have one?? Scabbards were made by Columbia painted for the 1,000 and unpainted for testing by Rock Island.
B.A. INC. Marked Scabbards
We can now say those are Beckwith scabbards, Beckwith - Arden Inc. scabbards to be precise. Edwin L. Beckwith of Harvard Mass was the primary concern in the venture. Situated in Watertown Mass., the corporation was listed as a New Hampshire company?? Beckwith - Arden filed for Patent protection on the M8A1 style scabbard on 27 Oct. 1964 under serial number 82,337. A Design Patent was issued on 20 Sept. 1966 under the number 205,769. Other references cited referred to previous Patents by Beckwith (D128,614), Maxim (1,276,554) and Morseth (2,650,008). Five figures are shown on the Patent file, none include the webbing holder, just the body and throat.
The current Fed Log (Federal Logistics) states the Army, Navy and Air Force call for scraping 1095-00-508-0339 (M8A1) if it is deemed unserviceable and replacing with 1095-00-223-7164 (M10). The Marines cite it as a repairable item at the Company Armorer level and parts are to be procured through CAGE 19205 (Springfield Armory) or CAGE 83421 (National Industries for the Blind) located at 1901 Beauregard St. Suite 200 Alexandria, Va. 22311. With all the M8A1 scabbards being put on the market by the DRMS I wonder if the Marines will ever need to buy another one?
Yet one more item I found while on the search for the "Pocket, Cutter and Line" is the WW II era United States Army Air Force Crash Ax. I donít have the slightest idea how many years these items were used as emergency gear but the last supplier was The D.L. Auld Co. of Columbus Ohio. They are not listed as a current supplier for the government and I do not know if they are even in business anymore. The ax still has an active NSN of 5110-00-814-2027 but has been listed as "no longer procured, used on schedule A equipment." The last listed unit price was at a flat $69.00 even. They do not list the year that this last purchase was made. The CAGE Code for The D.L. Auld Co is 70677 for those interested in further research and the part number is still listed as 42D8331. That tells me it was adopted in 1942 but little else. Official nomenclature is "Ax, Crash" again short and to the point albeit backwards. Interesting that the remaining stocks are held by the Coast Guard for replenishment by interested and qualified government branches to procure from. They are supposedly held at the United States Coast Guard Aircraft Repair and Supply Center in Elizabeth, North Carolina. I wonder if they really do have any left??
Mad Dog WSP1
A fellow collector recently turned up a mad Dog knife with a strange etching and grind. The markings were WSP1 and the knife was divided into three sections. The front or tip section was like that of a normal knife the center was serrated and the rear section up near the handle was also sharpened like a knife section. I am told the WSP is for the Water Safety Program of the Secret Service and about 50 of these knives were made. Also we hear that the rear sharpened section was for sharpening pencils! Take it for what it is worth, itís only what I heard. Anyway it is an extremely well made knife as are all the Mad Dog products I have had the pleasure of viewing. Kevin makes an awesome knife.
Desert Tan M3 Knives
I was recently asked about an unusual military knife which looks issue. I'll describe it: Looks like a basic M-7 w/M10 scabbard. Grips and scabbard are tan. No latch plate or large ring guard for bayonet mounting. It has an oval steel pommel and an oval steel guard which are both parkerized. Still sealed in plastic packaging w/white card inside. Card has date of 12-90 and various lot & NSN 's. Every bit G.I. issue looking. The markings on the packaging are as follows:
WITH SCABBARD, M10
SET: ONE EACH
LEVEL A 1/91
(AND HAS A BAR CODE AT TOP)
The actual markings on the tan scabbard are as follows:
19204 ASSY 8448476
The knife itself has no markings at all. So what are they.....
These knives along with bayonets like them were made up for the surplus market and do not have any US military connection. Check the NSN numbers and you will see they are bogus. They are for worm gears and shafts. The scabbard NSN is one digit off from a correct M-10 black scabbard. It should be 1095-00-223-7164. The assembly number and CAGE codes for the scabbard are correct but they translate to black M-10 scabbards not tan. The knives and bayonets were made by General Cutlery but too late for any action. The scabbards were made by Hauser Products who do actually make the real, black, M-10 scabbard. I purchased a few of the tan knives in 1991 when they just hit the street. Retail was $39.95 at the time. No they were not secret Special Forces issue "killing" knives. Any blood stains on one is probably from the previous owner cutting himself or cutting up some chicken for the bar-b-cue.
The Desert Tan M3 Fighting Knife and Scabbard. Actually a nice knife but still just a fantasy piece.
Shop Vs. Theatre
It is time we created a standard name for the knives now becoming very popular with many collectors. Ultimately they are all knives, most could be considered custom knives also but we are looking for a descriptive yet unique name. I have used the "Theatre" knife name for any knife known to have been manufactured in an active theatre of combat not in the U.S. These knives can not be U.S., government issued standard equipment. A good example would be an aluminum handled New Zealand Knuckle knife. Not issued by the U.S. yet manufactured and used by U.S., servicemen in an active theatre of combat. (Many of you may have noticed I use the old spelling of "theatre", I find it appropriate for use on WW II vintage knives as this spelling was in use then.) A shop knife on the other hand would be a knife made in a home workshop in the continental United States. Again not an issue knife but privately acquired for future use in combat. A good example would be an M.H. Cole knuckle knife. The line becomes hard to follow on many of these knives as the place of manufacturer is very hard to place. I have found that most of the knives I have seen with Plexiglas washer handles were made overseas. This material was just not very obtainable in the States. Broken windshields and canopies were readily available in theatreís where active fighting was occurring. This became a product in demand for the budding knife maker. Iím not really sure about the colored Plexiglas glass or where it came from? Coloring the tang was also a popular item or inserting a picture to view through the clear washers. Many of these knives are standard issue knives with enhanced handles. These knives could also be classified as theatre knives when appropriate as the knife blade style itself in most cases isnít the object of the wording it is rather where it was made that causes the distinction. Some folks like to class them as "theatre altered" but I like to keep it simple with the theatre distinction working just fine. A great example of this would be a "Stone" knuckle knife. Using a Mark 2 blade Mr. Stone then cast on an aluminum handle aboard a ship using that workshop. Notice that all of the examples used in this essay are knuckle knives, ever wonder what style knife was the most popular with the troops? Which style do you suppose is most popular with the collectors of today? In general unknown knives of this genre are not very expensive and a very nice collection can be assembled without too much hunting or selling your house. Named and I/Díed makers are a completely different story. A mint with scabbard example of an unmarked aluminum "D" guard Aussie knife may go for $250.00 on the low side, a mint with scabbard example of an M.H. Cole 9 point knuckle knife could set you back $6,000.00 if you could find one for sale. Yes, these are extremes but they tend to be the rule, you I/D the knife and associate it with any fighting force and the price goes up exponentially. Case in point is the SOG knives or the Force Recon knives. Both are $25.00 used hunting knives at best, through association they become $2500.00 knives. Go figure, as an actual user I would pick a Cattaraugus 225Q any day, as a collector it is no match. So if you are a hunter the ones to look out for today are the I/D ed knives laying on someoneís table as a beat-up old "homemade" knife, if you can identify it when the seller doesnít it can lead to a big pay day. It is the stuff of urban legends but it still happens, Scagel knives can be had for $50.00 or a Taylor Huff knife for $150.00 if you do your homework and study up on your hobby. Knowledge really is Power.
"Because of the neglect of history in our educational system, most people have no idea how many of the great American fortunes where created by people who were born and raised in worse poverty then the average welfare recipient today."
Military, Vol. XVII, No. XI April 2001.
Nothing to do with knives but being a "student" of history myself it really hit home.
"Those who beat their swords into plowshares, often do the plowing for those who did not."
Thanks to Gerry Bennett for submitting that last pearl of wisdom.
"Polishing an old blade removes all the original surface. This is like skinning a cat. When you are done it is still a cat, but it is no longer much use as a pet."
Bernard Levine 4/08/01
"Quemadnowm gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est."
A sword is never a killer, it is but a tool in the killerís hands.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca 4 B.C. - 65 A.D.
".........men fell writhing and others melted from sight. And we saw the glitter of bayonets coming against our flank. And we heard the order to retire."
Major Abner R. Small, U.S.A. First Battle of Bull Run, Manassas Va. 1861.
Often mistaken for a "Pilot Survival Knife" the Schrade H-15 was first manufactured in 1959, with a suggested retail price of $1.25. It was strictly aimed at the commercial market of the times. It was a commercial success as it continued to be manufactured until 1975, when it retailed for $7.50 at your local hardware store. It was called the "Utility Hunter", aimed at hunters, campers, scouts or the general outdoorsman who spent weekends in the boonies. The blade was made from high carbon cutlery steel, many are found today rather pitted but most are excellent plus condition owing to the fact they were probably put in a drawer and forgotten. I have observed them with brown plastic spacers and red plastic spacers near the guard and pommel. Half guards were the norm for them and I have also seen them installed upside down. Pommels were pinned in place and made from aluminum. Anyway itís not military.
Left to Right, Imperial Hunter, Schrade Walden H-15 and another marking variation of the Schrade Walden H-15 Hunter. Note the 1/2 guard on the far right installed upside down.
While we are talking about Schrade, I recently found out about a little known policy they have with the MC-1 Aircrew Survival Knives they made. If sent back to Schrade for repairs they will repair or replace any parts as they would any of their knives, usually for free if it has not been abused. The only stipulation they have was that it can only be sent back to a military base for release. Switchblade laws being all that they are you know I thought the fact that Schrade did this was pretty cool.
Two variations of the Schrade Walden MC-1 Aircrew Survival Knife. Note the word "Stainless" is written on the reverse side of the blade on the knife on the left. If you think this knife is built "backwards" with the wrong blade opening via push button, you need to buy Military Knives: A Reference Book.
Bronze Diving Knives
Several manufacturers have supplied these knives to the Navy throughout the years. Many such as the Ka-Bar and the Schrader & Sons are extremely hard to come by. It seems that most of the ones I have seen are made by and marked "Morse Diving Equipment" on the turned brass scabbard. With good reason too, Morse is in the Diving Equipment business and still makes these knives. Morse is a full time manufacturer of "Hard Hat" diving equipment. A short company history is as follows: a partnership between Mr. Morse and Mr. Fletcher was formed in 1837 for the manufacture of brass goods at the corner of Water & Congress Streets, Boston, Mass. In 1864, the firm became Andrew J. Morse and Sons under which name it continued to operate until 1940. At which time the name Morse was incorporated as Morse Diving Equipment Company, Inc. Finally in 1998, the name of Morse was incorporated to Morse Diving Inc. which it remains today. As much as we may like the nostalgia of the Mark V diving helmet it is far out classed by the equipment provided today to "Hard Hat" divers. One thing that has not changed is that heavy knife. In an excerpt of the U.S. Navy Diving Manual (NAVSHIPS 0994-001-9010) dated March 1970 (obtained courtesy of our good friend Carter Rila) we see the knife still in use. "The diverís knife is made of tough tool steel and consists of a bayonet shaped blade with one cutting edge and one saw edge, a metal sheath, hardwood handle. And a leather strap. The term of "knife" is misleading, as the instrument is actually a utility tool for prying hacking, sawing or cutting such material as wood, wire or manila rope and sheet metal. As such the knife represents a compromise of the individual features that go to make up the knife." They go on to show the knife and describe the scabbard better. Suggested storage for long time non use is to fill up the scabbard with grease and slide the knife into it. Any way the knife is still covered under a current NSN (5110-00-372-0656) and is still available for issue. The unit price as of 1999 was $88.34 for replacement purposes. This is the cost of the knife at the last procurement, which could have been 20 years ago or last year. With all that said Morse Diving Inc. is still in the knife business. They have recently advertised newly made knives for sale in a magazine. Be careful when you see that Morse diving knife for sale as a WW II veteran, it may have been made last month. I do not have any knowledge of the current markings so can not tell you how to tell the difference, can someone tell me?? (**According to our good friend Charlie Flick be on the lookout for a Zip Code in the post 1962 scabbards and an engraving of a divers Mark V helmet. This is a great item to know about, thanks Charlie.**) I do know the newest scabbards are etched with a figure of a complete hard hat diver on them so that is a give away if the scabbard is so marked. Morse is also producing a Commemorative Edition which is serial numbered and laser engraved on the blade which should be easy to spot if left intact. This also could be polished off very easy so look out also for a spotted or as such marked blade. Better to be safe then sorry.
A Morse Diving Knife
Real Life Heroes
I constantly see young people refer to sports stars, musicians, actors and so on as their "heroes." While having a role model is good for young people we should really focus their attention on the meaning of the word and towards true heroes. The word hero is used much too lightly in this generation for my tastes. We should be constantly reminded of the sacrifice people like our parents and grandparents made during the World War Two era. Normal everyday folks who rose above the tragedy of the times. We lose about 1200 veterans of World War Two right here in the United States every day. Too soon they will all be gone. If you want to pick a real hero, that would be a very good place to start.
Ontario Mark 3 Modification 0
I recently received a short e-mail and bad photo of a white handled Mark 3 Mod 0 Navy type knife. The sender asked if it was a prototype knife. Having never seen one I didnít know either, so a letter was zipped off to Ontario Knife Company. It seems it was a test item after all. On the prototype testing phase a few of these knives were made with white handles. This knife is from the 1st production run of about 20 pieces made by Ontario Knife Company in 1980. These knives were used for blade and guard fit testing before the final mold was procured for the production knives. The white grip was utilized as it was easier to detect any defects in molding. This particular batch of knives had only partial tangs and no steel butt cap as seen in the current issue Navy knife. It was fitted with a stainless steel pointed "skull crusher" tip screwed into the butt end of the handle. This is an added on piece and not a completely through tang ground to a point. These prototypes were then forwarded to the U.S. Navy for testing. Modifications were then made to the prototype knife that continue to this day with the addition of a thick steel butt, black molded grip, and blackened stainless steel blade. It seems the white handle was desirable for underwater visibility yet not practical for use in the dark where stealth was essential. The SEALís doing the testing did not like the blade shape since the tip was too easily broken off in heavy use. Too bad they didnít listen to those guys as that fragile tip continues on to this day. The blade was given a slight design change but basically the same as seen here. Quite possibly the best point on this new knife combination is the molded scabbard. Anyway the prototype seen here was one of the test items and it seems there may be as many as 19 others still out there somewhere. As for this knife style, it is probably produced more for commercial consumption then for the military.
White handled prototype Mk3 Mod 0 knife
The name first saw usage in 1898 by the Washington Cutlery Company of Watertown Wisc. The staple products of this company were working butcher and kitchen knives. During World War Two we see the USMC Hospital Corps knives made by Village Blacksmith. They had at least two contracts in 1942 for these items in the amount of 18,000 and 27,500 items each. The Village Blacksmith name still exists, it is now owned by a California company called Olympia Group, they currently make garden tools and saws. Olympia Group also owns the Disston brand name, which was a famous maker of fighting knives, machetes and other cutlery items. I havenít seen any new knives from this company yet though, it would be nice to see the names revived but of course marked differently!
Fakes and Fantasies
I receive e-mails from fellow collectors and enthusiasts just about every day asking for information on a knife in their possession. Most of the time it is about what the item is valued at. Often a person wants to know what era the item is from and at other times just a little background on a knife inherited or found. The answers are usually very straight forward on the most typical Mk2, M3, bayonet type of souvenirs brought home by a father or uncle. These are a pleasure to answer and maybe, just maybe, get a person interested in collecting, or better yet, a young person interested in history. Many good things can come out of these short answers if the question is asked correctly and the answer is worded correctly to excite the new owner. Unfortunately some of the questions asked are about knives that are outright fakes or fantasies. This is painful to answer if the knife is in the above category. While this can happen to anybody at any time the consequences of a bad knife being passed on to a new collector is tantamount to career suicide. It can take the wind right out of that persons sails in a heartbeat. Worse yet is if the person paid a high price for one, this person is now ruined to knife collecting. I have seen it repeatedly over the years. I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said "Thereís a sucker born every minute" and he was correct. What bothers me the most about this is that these things are so damn good looking at times the person making the fake could make a custom knife and probably sell it for just as much, yes I have seen some wonderful talent used for this ill gotten gain. It turns the collecting crowd off to the hobby and in general says volumes about what we will tolerate. I do not claim to know everything about knives, hell I learn a little more everyday about them. What I do know I have found in books and handling the specimens in person. Nothing can beat that combination and put the con men in their place faster. Thatís fine for the experienced collector but it does not help the new inexperienced fellow, they are the ones I want to see getting the help they need most. Try your best to answer questions, or at least put the person on the right track, from the crowd, it is in all of our best interests.
The French Connection!
U.S. / French Foreign Legion Knife
The Remington made P1913 bayonet that was cut down to a fighting knife and termed a "French Foreign Legion Fighting Knife" is somewhat of a mystery, at least to me. After the British experiences fighting the Boers armed with the 7mm Mauser rifle they decided they needed to replace their SMLE in .303 with a new rifle and cartridge. The designers came up with the new P13 in a 7mm cartridge. When WWI was about to start they realized they could not change cartridges as they had large stocks of .303 ammo and the ability to easily produce more. Britain then modified the P13 rifle to fire .303 ammo and designated it the P14, a secondary rifle to the SMLE. When the U.S. entered WWI we had the M1903 Springfield but could not produce them fast enough at the current armories in Springfield and Rock Island. As the P14 was already in production through Remington and Winchester at three plants in the U.S. it would take less time and effort to convert those rifles to the U.S. standard 30-06 cartridge. The U.S. then modified the P14 to fire the U.S. .30-06 and designated the rifle the M1917. Well over 2,000,000 were made in a very short period of time and it became the most widely used U.S. rifle of that war. During the time in between wars the M1917 was usually left in storage in favor of the M1903 Springfield being fielded. In WWII several hundred thousand M1917's with bayonets were issued to the Free French Forces from U.S. stockpiles in the Lend-Lease program. After WWII the French continued to use the M1917 in both Indo-China and Algeria. The M1917 was used early in Vietnam to issue to forces friendly with the colonial French such as the Hoa Hao tribe. They also used vast numbers of M3 trench knives. I have always thought this to be the big reason that M3 knives were so rare to be found on the surplus market until rather recently. It wouldnít surprise me a bit to find out the recently released M3 knives now being sold as "arsenal" refinished items were actually refinished as part of a French armory and under French ownership, but that is pure speculation. The 2d REP (Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes) are usually seen with the M1 Carbine and the M4 bayonet. They did possess the rare folding stock M1's as seen in pictures of the French forces at Dien Bien Phu. I have several books on the French Foreign Legion and almost every photo has a Para with a M4 bayonet. I believe that as the M3's and M4's were worn out, lost, broken and just through general attrition the supply dwindled. With this, there was a demand for a new fighting knife and the M1917 bayonets were cut down to fill this need. As for the Remington M1917 bayonet, I have both a bayonet and a cut down fighting knife. Both seem to be standard types encountered often enough. All I have seen are made from Remington bayonets although this could very well be, and probably is, a coincidence. The knife shown in the photos is U.S. marked and dated 1917 but I have heard of the British marked versions also having been used. Two distinct tip styles are to be encountered, the clip point, as shown and the spear point. Ron Flook shows a spear point in his earlier book "A Photographic Primer of Military Knives" as item number 46 on page 24. These cut down M1917 bayonets came into the US in the late 1980's and early 1990's advertised as "French Foreign Legion" fighting knives. I obtained my first example from Atlanta Cutlery. I wrote to the French Foreign Legion museum in Aubagne, France several years ago and received a reply from Adjutant-Chef Kaan, curator of the museum. (I also received information about the Mark 2 like knives being passed off as F.F.L. items, they are not associated in any way with the Legion and he stressed that point! Actually the companies involved have been told to stop using the Legion name or suffer the consequences.) He stated that these cut down M1917 bayonets were not Foreign Legion Fighting knives, that the Legion was issued the same equipment as the regular French Army. I have been told in the book "Zaire" about the 2nd REP jumping into Kolwezi on 19 May 1978 to rescue Europeans, there are numerous photos of Para's with the cut down M1917 bayonet. Operation 'Leopard' was launched on 18th May when 2d REP was dispatched on a mercy mission from Corsica to Zaire via Chad to rescue three thousand European residents caught up in the looting of Kolwezi by Katanga 'Tiger' rebels from Angola. They were transported to the drop zone in 18 C-141 Starlifters provided by the United States in an answer to a plea from Zairian President Joseph Mobutu. On the 19th of May, 500 men (the initial number was limited by the lack of available Zairian Army transport planes) were dropped over Kolwezi. The odds according to military estimates were 10 to 1 in favor of the rebels. That had never stopped the Legion before and they continued the plans for the drop. The town was largely secured within two hours during which over 100 rebels were killed. A second wave of Legionnaires was dropped the following day and the operation to clear rebels from the town was soon completed. Patrols were sent out in jeeps (more U.S. equipment) and the surrounding area was cleared by the 25th of May. The operation was completed with 5 Legionnaires killed and 25 wounded while the rebel kill was set at 250. The majority of the European hostages were released, though sadly the Legionnaires reached the Impala Hotel too late to save those held inside who had all been shot by the Katangese. This is exactly the mission the Legion excels in, impossible odds and a lightning quick, brutal strike. Just thought I would throw a quick history in there. Whomever did the work converting these items did a good job on the scabbard, which has the typical M1917 metal tip, throat and green leather body. The leather body was very professionally cut down and a thick leather belt loop and retaining strap was added at the top. In the several examples of this knife I have handled and owned the leather is of the same color and texture as the frog of the M1956 bayonet for the French MAS 49-56 rifle. The rivets are even the same in color and peening style. In most of the pictures I have seen the French were again using standard U.S. web gear. Why did they do away with the M1910 hook set up in favor of a leather belt loop? Doesnít make sense on the surface. Perhaps they wanted it to fit on other belts as well. They may not have been made for the French Foreign Legion but they are the only ones I have heard of using them. If you have the book Zaire, I would love to see the pictures of the Legionnaires wearing the knives and post them right here.
Click on the thumbnails for the full size photo.
Columbus Milpar and Manufacturing Co. Inc. Columbus Ohio. I admit to know very little about this company and itís background. I do know they received a contract in 1963 for 21,000 Jet Pilot Knives and completed them all in the same contract year. This is for the blade marked leather handled versions. I have never seen any official documentation on the aluminum handled versions but that does not surprise me as finding any documentation is rough. Lack of evidence is not evidence in itself as to make it not true. Does that make sense?? Just because I canít find it doesnít mean it doesnít exist. Anyway Milpar received further contracts but now they were for bayonets. Milpar never made a pommel marked Jet Pilot knife so that assures us they made all the knives prior to 1967 when the marking location was moved. Bayonet contracts have been found for years stretching from 1964 to 1967 according to Gary Cunningham in his excellent book, American Military Bayonets of the 20th Century. Milpar made M5A1, M6 and M7 bayonets for the government during the buildup in the Vietnam War years. Sometime after that the company assets were sold off to a large surplus dealer who assembled all the remaining parts for the surplus trade. That is the general thought as to where those M5, M6, & M7 fighting knives without the bayonet attaching parts and butt plate mechanisms came from. If I knew of a good archive to search back issues of the Shotgun News or Gun List I am sure we could find an ad with these items. Nothing more was seen or heard about from them after those dates. Can you tell me anything more about Milpar? If so we can share it with the world. Thanks to Gary Cunningham for relating that story about the surplus dealer to us.
The Milpar M5 Fighting Knife
The Milpar M6 Fighting Knife
The Milpar M7 Fighting Knife
The Milpar Aluminum Handled Jet Pilots Knife
Metal Handling and Storage
Some time ago I ran an essay on the preservation of leather products. Since that time I have been repeatedly asked for information on metal preservation. This is so good I couldnít add a thing to it so please excuse that it is seen here reprinted in itís entirety. This piece is excerpted from the professionals book:
National Park Service Museum Handbook 2000.
This is currently out of print and we are awaiting the 2001 edition.
The Curatorial Care of Metal Objects
Deterioration of Metallic Objects
Metallic objects can be easily damaged by improper storage or exhibit conditions. Common problems include poor support, high relative humidity, air pollution, and incompatible storage cabinet or exhibit case materials.
Hardwoods such as oak can produce acidic vapors which can corrode lead and silver. A common observation in older museum cases is the formation of a white lead corrosion on lead artifacts such as minie balls. The adhesives, paints, woods, and textiles used in more recently constructed cases have resulted in similar problems. However, good storage and exhibit case construction affords an opportunity to implement a wide range of prevention conservation procedures that result in the creation of environments which are metal friendly.
The best materials to use for a display or storage case are metals. Metal is far less problematic than organic compounds such as wood.
While metal is a reactive material, in most cases, when rust or corrosion occurs there will be an environmental factor. When caring for metal objects remember: Do not just treat the symptom, but address the cause of the deterioration.
The most common problem facing the collector who has metal object is corrosion. Many factors can contribute to corrosion; the type of metal in the object, how it is exhibited or stored, and the general environment. While you may have no objection to using a commercial brass polish on your new brass bed, most collectors of militaria would shudder at the thought of applying such a product to a 19th century European parade helmet or fine sword details.
In fact, the most commonly observed mistreatment of historic metal objects comes not from nature but from cleaning and neglect. Over-cleaning often results from a desire to have metals bright and shiny, especially brass and silver objects on display. Items such as swords, daggers, firearms, and medals are obvious victims of this well-meaning but misguided attempt at preservation.
Archaeological artifacts are often over-cleaned because of a desire to see what is under the layer of corrosion, or because of the mistaken assumption that corrosion is like a "cancer", and unless every last bit of it is removed, the object will continue to corrode.
Neglect too can often cause irreversible damage to a metal object. Until recently, the green and black corrosion products commonly observed on bronze sculptures were mistakenly believed to be protective by some people.
There are certainly instances in which the corrosion layer is protective, aluminum oxide being one example. Unfortunately, most historic metals do not form protective corrosion layers. Historic objects that have corroded are best left untreated until a metal conservator has had an opportunity to examine them. This is far better than the risks of over-cleaning, and the consequences of higher corrosion rates on freshly exposed metal surfaces. Remember, conditions seldom remain static, so when an object appears to be stable, monitoring and maintenance are essential elements of the collection maintenance program.
A precedence for appearance and a failure to understand the corrosion process has resulted in another form of mistreatment. Objects have been sent to conservators for treatment and then reinstalled under the same conditions which were responsible for the initial damage. Conservation treatments is frequently the wrong option for many objects. It is labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive. Treatment is never a permanent solution to the long term preservation of an object, and even if treatment were, there will never be enough conservators to treat all the objects that need attention. As with other types of museum object materials, practicing preventive conservation is essential to the curatorial care of metal objects.
There are practical methods for the care and maintenance of the majority of metal objects. An object which is in an active state of deterioration can frequently be stabilized by isolating it from harmful agents of deterioration. The first step in proper care is to understand and to control, the extent feasible, the harmful environmental factors (e.g., relative humidity and air pollution). A second, more manageable step is to ensure that proper exhibit cases or storage cabinets are used. Cabinets can be easily conditioned with desiccants such as silica gel, pollutant absorbing material such as activated charcoal paper, and/or vapor phase corrosion inhibitors. The third step focuses on the object itself.
Rules for Handling Metal Objects
All of the general rules for the safe handling of three dimensional museum objects apply to metal objects. Two special concerns for metals are weight and skin contact with bare metal surfaces.
Keep movement and handling to a minimum. Frequent handling increases the risk of eventual damage. One method to reduce the need for frequent handling is to apply protective coatings so that objects will not have to be polished on a regular basis. Objects made of precious metals, such as sterling silver, are often put into drawers or safes at night. This practice greatly increases the chances for damage and wear. If such frequent handling is necessary, prepare special padded trays and carrying boxes.
Whether the object is going a long distance or a few feet, plan each move. Metals can be heavy. The inadvertent placement of a metal object on another object or on a period piece of furniture may result in dents, scratches, or staining.
The site to which the object is to be moved should be prepared before hand. Space should be cleared, and an inner buffer such as mylar or blotting paper put down prior to the move. The route of the movement should be free of obstacles.
A variety of gloves should be kept on hand. Smocks without buttons should be worn when working with metal objects. The smock prevents the scratching of objects by belt buckles and other accessories, especially in those instances when the object is large and likely to be held against the torso during a move.
In addition to cotton gloves, (These are the white gloves always used by curators in museums when handling relics or artifacts) polyethylene gloves are useful when polishing or waxing a metal object. If there is concern that the metal surface may be too slippery for cotton gloves, or that a rough metal surface may snag the cotton glove, place the object in a padded box or tray for movement.
If it is necessary to pick up an object for inspection, hold it over a table or some other piece of furniture, and not over the floor. Also, have on had a jewelers cloth for uncoated gold, silver, copper alloys, and highly polished steels. If an object has to be handled or is inadvertently touched, any finger prints can be easily buffed away with the jewelers cloth. These cloths usually contain a fine abrasive.
The advantage of a jewelers cloth is that it permits localized polishing, without the mess of liquid or paste polishes. Some polishing cloths contain no abrasive and rely on the stiffness of the weave for their polishing effect. Any clean, soft cloth may be used to buff an object after a move or handling. Jewelers cloths are available at may jewelry stores.
When discussing the environmental conditions it is important to note that the lower the relative humidity, the better. Steel will not rust and brass will not tarnish below 15% RH. The best temperature to store metal objects is between 60 and 80 degrees F. In salt air environments, the best thing to do to prevent active corrosion is to house the items in spaces that do not allow RH levels to exceed 35%. As far as temperature goes, it is best to avoid low temps for most metal objects. This is because low temps usually result in higher levels of relative humidity, and the possibility for condensation to form upon metal surfaces. Low temps should be avoided for tin alloys. Another environmental threat is air pollution. Polluted urban air and coastal environments are among the most severe areas. Dirt and dust may contain chemical compounds that will react with metals and trap moisture close to the metal surface. Keep your items dusted and protected if possible. A common pollutant is cigarette smoking. NEVER allow smoking, eating, or drinking around valuable artifacts.
Obviously, the best place to house metal objects is in an indoor environment to reduce the possibility of corrosion. (This is a major problem for museums such as The Aberdeen Proving Ground Museum. They have an outstanding collection of rare armored vehicles but do not have an indoor facility to protect them. If that doesn't change soon, we WILL lose those rare and valuable vehicles.) Never store metal objects directly on the floor, or in close proximity to exterior walls. Avoid storing metal objects in attics and basements. These areas are conducive to condensation.
One factor which is usually not a concern for metal objects is lighting. Most metals are not affected by visible light, ultra violet radiation or infrared radiation. However, paint, and other coating systems may be affected. Unlike cloth which is susceptible to moths and other pests, metals are normally immune to these attacks. However, droppings of mice, and even insects can cause pitting and corroding of a metal object's surface.
The best storage medium for metal objects is steel shelving. It is preferred over wood because it is stronger and does not emit harmful vapors. Line shelves with an inert, nonabsorbent material such as expanded polyethylene. Loosely drape over shelves, clear polyethylene to protect metal objects from water leaks, dust, and air pollution. Insure objects are placed so that they do not bump into each other when picked up or moved.
One method you can use to limit the amount of humidity is to purchase and run a dehumidifier. Another method is by using Silica gel packets. They are used to reduce and buffer the relative humidity in a closed space. (If you use Silica Gel packs, keep an eye on them as they can become saturated and then become a source of moisture.)
You can also place artifacts inside clear polyethylene bags to create a clean micro-environment plus it is easy to monitor the conditions inside the bag. In wintertime, never allow the temperature to fall below freezing in your storage space. Try to keep stored items in the center of your storage room. Again, keep your artifacts away from exterior walls, fireplaces, and entry halls. Insure you monitor your facility during peak condensation times which is the transition period between winter and summer. Make sure you dust the stored items from time to time as dust is abrasive and can cause chemical pollutants.
An exhibit case present the ideal means for object preservation and display because it is generally limited in size, is usually sealed to some degree, and can be modified to contain a variety of moisture controlling materials. Case controls can be either passive or active. A passive display case uses trays of silica gel, pollution control agents, and other corrosion inhibitors to protect artifacts. Active cases usually employ small mechanical systems which may be built into the case such as dehumidifiers or filters. Electronic sensors can be concealed in the case to control temperature and moisture.
Lighting is an important consideration. Some fixtures such as fluorescent light ballast's or transformers may generate ozone. Ozone will cause corrosion on metal surfaces. Light fixtures should not be installed directly in an exhibit case.
Housekeeping procedures are an important element in the preventive conservation program. Many cleaning products contain ammonia, weak acids, solvents, waxes, and fats which may have an adverse effect on metal objects. Use caution when using spray air fresheners and other cleaning products. Try to keep items in cases which prevent dust and dirt from entering them. If steps need to be taken to clean an object consultation with an expert in restoration is advised.
Like I said, this is from the professionals that have in their hands some of the most important artifacts the country possesses. It should be good enough for our knives and bayonets too!
Sorry folks it is short this week as we have been traveling.
Gerber Mk II Serial Numbers:
Below is a list of the serial numbers on Gerber Mark II knives and the corresponding year in which they were made.
1,001 to 5,000 = 1967
5,001 to 9,900 = 1968
9,901 to 14,350 = 1969
14,351 to 19,300 = 1970
19,301 to 23,750 = 1971
23,751 to 28,000 = 1972
28,001 to 32,900 = 1973
32,901 to 39,000 = 1974
39,001 to 44,015 = 1975
44,016 to 54,434 = 1976
54,435 to 63,648 = 1977
63,649 to 76,001 = 1978
76,002 to 85,000 = 1979
85,001 to 100,810 = 1980
100,811 to 112,000 = 1981
The above information is from Bernard Levineís Guide to Knives and Their Values IV. It is also partially printed in Mike Silveyís book United States Military Knives 1941 to 1991 but that book is long out of print and very expensive when you do find one for sale. So we re-printed it here to help beginning collectors. Be careful of the knives that have an "XX" in the serial number or a "CS" as these are reproduction and commemorative knives. They are true Gerber products but the prices should be adjusted accordingly on them as they were not made in the above serial number years.
Seeing newer Randall knives on several auction sights recently being offered with a "rare" sheath. These are models stitched with brown stitching, not the normal white thread used on previous sheaths from Randall. So we go to the source to find out what is really going on here. Sullivanís Holster Shop makes the sheaths for Randall Made knives and according to Greg Gutcher of Sullivanís the brown stitching was used from the very beginning of 1998 to mid way through 1999. To bring this into perspective that equates to about 10,000 to 15,000 sheaths with the brown stitching on them. Not so rare anymore are they? It does give us an excellent source to date the scabbards with, and the knives, if they are original to the sheath as most newer Randalls found are. Greg also stated that they will make any sheath you want with brown stitching today but they will be double marked to show that they are a custom made scabbard and not original to a knife. That is a wonderful way of doing business to help protect collectors. The bottom line is donít pay more for that "rare" sheath. Oh and by the way a Star marked Randall sheath is one made by Sullivanís that a customer did not send in a knife to have fitted. Be very careful of the knife you find in a Star marked sheath. It may be very well perfect or at worst it may be a complete fraud. An ounce of prevention.....
M1918 Mk1 Presentation Knife
One of the great things about the Internet is seeing items from places you would normally not even know about. Prior to this experience the only way we would know about certain knives, or any other collectibles, would be by actual sight or in a book. Well I have seen at least 6 presentation M1918 Mk1 knives so far. The latest one was for sale on eBay. Howard Cole has one shown in Book IV on page 29. Prior to that, one was published by the American Blade in an article by Adrian Van Dyk many years ago. Some of these knives are spectacular in the work put into them. Engraving, comparable to a high dollar shotgun, on the handles takes on different styles on each knife I have seen, no two were alike. What a great platform the M1918 Mk1 makes for a presentation piece, with that brass handle and stiletto type blade it is perfect. I have even observed gold plated handles on such pieces. As seen in Coles Book IV page 30 is the Henry Rosenthal marked knife which had the gold plated handle, although this was a commercial offering. One knife was attributed to a certain WWII Ordnance unit and made to this particular configuration of presentation for Lt. Col. Wm. M. Crofton who was the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of the 302nd Ordnance Regiment. Finding named presentation pieces from World War Two is extremely rare, a presentation knife is almost unheard of. This is also a common link to the one written about by Van Dyk, made for an Ordnance officer. I have written before about the M1918 Mk1 made up during the Vietnam War era for trade purposes or actual use. Here we have one made during WW II for presentation. That old M1918 Mk1 just wonít die, commercial copies are being made to this date, albeit rather crude but I guess that is a good thing.
Presentation M1918 Mark 1 Knives
M1917/1918 Trench Knife Scabbards
Be on the watch for reproduction scabbards for these triangular bladed knives. They have recently been manufactured out in the Midwest by Prairie Flower Leather Company (www.cornhusker.net/~pflc) for the collector crowd and let me tell you they look really good. This is a newly made triangular bladed, tube type, trench knife scabbard as issued in 1917 and 1918. The rivets are correct in size and style, the color and the number of stitches per inch on the leather were matched to an original. It is even sewn on a 1917 Singer 78-1 machine like the originals and is as perfect as can be, right down to the keeper springs on the inside. It has the correct blackened brass hanger wires and metal parts, even the tooling marks on the tip are like the originals. Lucky for us collectors they are being marked as reproductions but that may not last as some scumbag may change or alter the markings. They are marked PFLC 1918 on the leather in place of the Jewell 1918 and do not have any inspector markings on the metal parts. At this time less then fifty have been made so seeing one may take some time but it will eventually happen, count on it. There is nothing wrong with a good reproduction item, as long as it is marked as such. PFLC has done the collector a service by providing a high quality item well marked as a reproduction. Just to be sure though always remember, Fore Warned is Fore Armed.
Click on the thumb nails to see full size photos
Canton Historical Society
Just a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be passing close to Collinsville Ct. so I stopped in for a look around. It has been years since I had seen the old Canton Historical Museum so I wanted to take the tour again. Iím glad that I did! Recently (within the last few years) the Canton Historical Society museum inherited a large collection of machetes from a now defunct museum in Shelbourne Vermont. The museum in Shelbourne returned them to the family that had donated them and the family then passed them along to the Canton museum. (This is how it should be when a donated item is passed along to a museum. I only bring that up in light of the recent N.K.C.A. Museum sale. Many of the original owners families may not want the items back for tax reasons or whatever but they should be the first ones asked before any items are sold or redistributed. Just an opinion folks.) The machetes are currently on display along side the other machetes that the Society had previously held. Several of the items were duplicates and as such a silent auction was held to sell them off. Unfortunately I was not in time for the auction as it was held two weeks prior to my arrival. One good stroke of luck I did have was arriving as the Museum Director, Roy Olson was still there. I was treated to a personal tour with a hands on emphasis of the tool section in the museum. We discussed machetes for quite some time when Roy mentioned I had missed the sale but he had a lot of machetes left over. Seems the tools were fair sellers but many of the machetes were not sold. Aha, my opening, I asked if I could purchase them and was quickly led to the back room to view the left over items. Nothing earth shattering like a Collins No. 01 (which by the way is now on display from the new exhibit) but a lot of nice pieces. We made a package deal and I took them all, Roy was happy and so was I. These are items that were duplicates and also items found in the attic or basement of the factories and Society museum. One interesting item was an experimental set of grips made from polystyrene when Collins was just setting up that machinery circa 1965. They are green in color and wired onto the machete just for display purposes. First and only ones I have ever seen. Let's see now, who would these olive green colored grips have been marketed to or should we say aimed at?? Roy confirmed this as he was an employee of Collins at the time and remembered the setup and experimental work on these grips. It seldom works out like that for me but this was the rare occasion of being in the right place at the right time. Sure wish I had been there at the original sale to see what else they had but such is my luck! Anyway back to the museum, did you ever notice how I do that, get off the subject that is, my wife yells at me all the time for it. If I would have been born ten years ago I would be on Ridilin right now and be currently diagnosed as A.D.H.D. (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) as it is called today, we just called it being a boy when I was growing up, you know "Ants in the Pants." Boys just donít have a long attention span unless we are extremely interested in something. I donít need a $100.00 per hour psychoanalyst to tell me that, I already know it and so does everybody else who has some common sense. That is what we boys do for a living. We may tell folks we are mechanics, police officers, fireman, doctors, lawyers or about 50,000 other things but what we do best is act like boys, short attention spans except for the stuff we like. Damn, did it again! Back to that museum again, yes machetes!! They are open daily and have a wonderful Collins display of all types of tools set up. It is a must visit place if you are ever in the Connecticut area for a simple leisurely afternoon. There are several antique shops in town to browse in and the main Collins building is one of the largest ones. It is a treat all can enjoy and actually learn some history while you are there, canít beat that for the price of admission, $3.00. Then move on up the road to Springfield, Ma. and tour the Armory. Now your talking and I am listening!
Click on thumbnails for full size pictures.
Again, nothing to do with knives but.....
Army Increases Their Privates
LONDON - The British army has paid for a small number of female soldiers to have breast enlargements to make them happier, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday. A spokesman said that four women had received breast-enhancement surgery at one military hospital since the start of last year, and the total number was likely higher. "We would suggest that there are something like a dozen such cases a year," the ministry spokesman said. In one case, a 27-year-old corporal underwent the $3,600 operation, courtesy of the armed forces, to make her "a happier soldier." The spokesman defended the policy, saying that surgery would only be paid for if there was an overriding physical or psychological reason to do so. "This is not done purely on cosmetic grounds, but as a last resort," he said.
That one made me laugh out loud, pictures of Xena: The Warrior Princess dancing in my head!
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 1939. So as we can see that single question has been around for quite some time. Iím 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. (Yes that is a shameless plug for my book)
(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 itís 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. Later a stone was included in the TO&E as one per ten men. This stone was to be capable of sharpening not only a bayonet but a bolo knife, machete, or intrenching tool. Must have been one impressive stone!! I have received several letters over the years from men who told me that the result would have been near death if they were caught sharpening a bayonet by a superior. 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 repeatedly stick it in the sand when no one was watching to avoid the eraser work. This was usually in training or boot camp. Safety was important to some officers in the past. Actually the rifle stock bayonet that I had written about previously was not adopted due to the chances of the trooper getting hurt with it. I always thought that to be strange but it was the official response from the Equipment Board. Seems it was too sharp. Once in the field it was a completely different story, it 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. Thanks to Bernard Levine for pointing out those excerpts to me. I had read the book ages ago and had long forgotten them
Camillus Raider Stiletto
I'm not sure if I wrote it or not, but those Camillus made USMC Raider Stiletto commemoratives were made with a group of ORIGINAL WW2 Marine Raider blade blanks that were found in a 55 gallon drum in the plant. Thatís right they did use original punched blanks not just the old dies to cut new metal. Bet that hasnít happened too often in any type of business. It makes me wonder if Camillus contemplated further business from the govt. of that type of knife to have so many blade blanks punched.
Photo from the Philadelphia Inquirer dated March 7, 1943 of a USMC Raider holding his Stiletto.
History as Written
History is written by the winners. From the perspective of the victorious is how we see it and that is not always accurate but it is what we have. Lately many history books are being changed for "political correctness" and other such agendas. It is sad to see history rewritten for any reason, the above among the worse. What happened is history and just because it may not be popular doesnít change the facts. Oral histories have become extremely popular, it is sad to say memories just arenít what they are cracked up to be. Ask any policeman or detective what is going on if three witnesses see the same thing and he will tell you they are lying. People have different perspectives on what they see. Remember the old adage "donít believe everything you see", it is often quoted for a reason. Even more so today as many "histories" are being written or laid out in a digital format as oral histories. This is great for entertainment but should not be taken as correct history. Too many factors are involved such as years from the incident, political leanings, profits and a long host of others. In almost every case I have been involved in the person giving the history really did believe that was the way it happened. To them it did, it was from their perspective. The biggest misconception of all in knife research is the word "issued." Many World War II veterans will tell you they were issued such and such a knife. In many cases they were. That does not mean the knife was purchased by the U.S. Govt., standardized by them, or ordered by them. It merely means someone, usually of a superior rank, handed the vet that particular knife. Early in the war there were unit purchases that adds to the confusion. Later there was the "Save a life with a knife" drive that collected and 4 inch blade hunting knife and sent them to front line fighters. That alone makes it possible that a cut-down German bayonet may have been "issued" to an American soldier, fashioned as a hunting knife by a veteran of the First World War from a souvenir he brought home! General oral histories are not specific enough to single that out. Used in the overall picture it paints a very different landscape from what really did happen. What positive does come out of these histories are the little pieces that the original photos or official written histories donít capture, small tidbits which are forever frozen in the mind. These can never be replaced with the strictly historical dry reading print. We know a knife such as the M3 was issued to millions of soldiers but we do not know where it was issued or when it was first taken from the box or if it was ever used, beyond opening mail. These are items that are forever lost without those oral histories. Like the carving of places and dates on a scabbard, they are telling us something other then the official report. A picture of a loved one inside a helmet liner would never find itís way into a report. It reminds me of the writings of Thucydides in his "Peloponnesian War" chronicles. "Of the events of the war, I have not ventured to speak from any chance information, nor according to any notion of my own; I have described nothing but what I saw either myself or learned from others of whom I made the most careful and particular inquiry. The task was a laborious one because eyewitnesses of the same occurrence gave different accounts of them as they remembered, or were interested in the actions of one side or the other. Very likely the strictly historical character of my narrative may be disappointing to the ear. But if he who desires to have before his eyes a true picture of the events which have happened, and of the like events which may be expected to happen hereafter in the order of human things, shall pronounce what I have written as useful, then I shall be satisfied."
Me too. Itís not that I donít believe the oral teller of the history, it is because they have been romanticized by time. I encourage more people to leave their oral histories but I do believe they have their proper place, not as history books but as additions to them, they are what make history interesting to many and we canít afford to lose that perspective.
Is this knife an "issue" piece? According to the vet I obtained it from it is. You decide who is correct.
More and more we hear of items coming out of Vietnam left over from the war. While this may be true in some cases, in others they just know the world market. One of the largest fields of collecting is insignia. Unofficial pocket patches made during the war are very rare and therefor expensive collectibles. This is the only incentive needed. Many of the actual machines used to make the original items are still in service and are now being used to make the reproductions. Saigon street vendors are stocked with items just made for the trade. Visitors, business men and ex-pats are some of the typical customers who have connections in the United States. In many cases these items are sold for just a few dollars by the original dealer as a reproduction. When they hit the western world greed sets in and soon we have a "Vietnam Made" item for sale. True it was made in Vietnam but when is the question you need to be asking. This is and will continue to happen so be on the lookout for it. While I am writing about insignia it is also happening with other items as well, berets, camo, and all sorts of equipment. While I do not know of any knives in specific it is only a matter of time. We did leave a lot of equipment there and I am sure much of it is still in some sort of storage. When they figure out how to make money on it as various other foreign governments have it will open the flood gates. Notice all the M1 bayonets on the market today, overseas arsenals making money by unloading obsolete goods. That is all fair and good when represented as such. Just be careful and ask questions. Any reputable dealer will back the item for a reasonable amount of time, many forever if found to be a fake.
A pile of pocket patches on a dealers table in Saigon. Yes they are all made in Vietnam, just this week.
T.R. Finally Got It
Itís about damn time! Theodore Roosevelt was finally awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Cuba. Now there is a manís man. Soldier, Statesman, Adventurer, Writer, Naturalist & Conservationist he did it all. In those final hours of the presidency when Bill Clinton signed all those pardons he also sign the approval for the Medal of Honor. At least he got one right. This award places the Rooseveltís, Theodore and Theodore Jr. as the second set of father and son recipients along with the MacArthurís Arthur and Douglas. Unfortunately neither of the Rooseveltís were alive to receive their medals as both were awarded posthumously. It has often been speculated as to whether or not that charge up Kettle Hill, in the San Juan Hillís, was led by a sword wielding Roosevelt or a Collins machete wielding T.R. As most of the equipment and horses were not transferred to Cuba due to lack of shipping space it is just a thought. Hey we had to throw some knife stuff in here. Just a little known fact to go with the Spanish American War, of the 2,985 men who died in the conflict, a full 2,621 died of disease such as Malaria and Yellow Fever. Prior to Dr. Walter Reed finding the cause and the cure for these ailments, disease was the major cause of death in war not bullets. The full citation is as follows:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to LIEUTENANT COLONEL THEODORE ROOSEVELT UNITED STATES ARMY for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt distinguished himself by acts of bravery on 1 July, 1898, near Santiago de Cuba, Republic of Cuba, while leading a daring charge up San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt, in total disregard for his personal safety, and accompanied by only four or five men, led a desperate and gallant charge up San Juan Hill, encouraging his troops to continue the assault through withering enemy fire over open countryside. Facing the enemy's heavy fire, he displayed extraordinary bravery throughout the charge, and was the first to reach the enemy trenches, where he quickly killed one of the enemy with his pistol, allowing his men to continue the assault. His leadership and valor turned the tide in the Battle for San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders atop the hill.