Couteau-Poignard Mle1916 ‘le Vengeur de 1870′ trench-knife
Made originally by Besset in Thiers, the center of France’s cutlery manufacturing, these two made by Besset and Bourgade respectively.
Double-edged 165mm steel blade, smooth wood handle, flat guard shaped into quillons.
Developed to replace the mish-mash of shortened Lebel bayonets and sharpened rebars used before it, the Mle1916 was a simple yet effective trench knife used by the French army from 1916 up to 1939. Last used in service as a personal defense weapon for tank crews at the outbreak of WW2, it would still see a lot of use in the maquis with resistance forces.
The couteau-poignard Mle1916 is usually called “le vengeur” -aka the avenger- after an inscription found on some examples reading “le vengeur de 1870″ in reference to the Franco-Prussian war.