Category: world war one

British Highland Officer’s Cross Hilt Sword

The Victorian Highland Light Infantry sword (with field service cross hilt) for Ernest Montagu Leith (1888-1971), winner of the Military Cross during WW1. Captain Leith served with the 1/5 City of Glasgow Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Highland Light Infantry, commissioning as 2nd Lieutenant in 1912 and reaching Captain by 1917 (back-dated to 1916). He served through WW1, including at Gallipoli, was Mentioned in Despatches by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (London Gazette 20 May 1918) and was made a Chevalier of the Order of the Crown of Roumania (Romania) and Chevalier of the Military Order of Avis (Portugal). His Military Cross citation, as featured in the London Gazette of 14 March 1916 reads:

“Lieutenant Ernest Montagu Leith, 1/5th (City of Glasgow) Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry, Territorial Force. For conspicuous gallantry when commanding grenade parties in an attack. All the officers and several men were wounded, but he at once established and held a barricade, reorganised his party behind it, and, at a critical moment, assured the success of the attack”. 

The sword has a 32 inch double-edged blade and has the field service cruciform hilt fitted, with the extended langets particular to the Highland Light Infantry pattern. The blade is bright and etching clean, with thistles and the VR cypher showing that it dates to pre-1901. This means that Leith presumably got this sword second-hand, perhaps handed down from a family member or fellow officer, but we know it was Leith’s because he wrote his name on the scabbard strap (pictured). The sword also comes complete with a transit/storage bag, which has a weather-proofed outer skin and is lined with chamois. 

British Samurai Bayonets – 1907 Pattern & Arisaka

There is a connection between WW1 era British bayonets and Japanese samurai swords and knives that most people don’t know about. Here we look at the 1907 pattern British bayonet and its inspiration the Type 30 Arisaka.

Why an Obsolete Sword Design from 1845 was Reintroduced in 1915

This is a model 1845/55 French infantry officers sabre. It was produced in chatellerault in 1915.

Officially, the 1845/55 pattern was replaced by the 1882 pattern. However due to the war, the French decided to start producing the 45’s again as they already had tooling for that. As a result, some 30,000 of these were made during WWI.

The hilt is gilt Arco, an alloy of copper, charcoal and zinc, potentially also tin. It has a distinctive reddish appearance under the gilding. The 1882 used a “German silver” alloy for the guard – also a copper alloy.

The blade is plain steel (without a nickel coating) – unlike the 1882 which is nickel coated.

It features one broad fuller and one narrow fuller on each side. The 1882 has offset fullers.

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World War I British Officer’s Tunic and Sam Browne Belt with Attachments

And a Pattern 1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword, the hilt decorated with the GRV cypher for George V.

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Walter Rendell in the Legion of the Frontiersmen Uniform, 1914

Regiment # 0-5. Note the blue puttees, sword and Australian-style slouch hat.

Courtesy of the Rooms Provincial Archives Division (VA 36-33.7), St. John’s, NL.

Also note the shoulder chains and Pattern 1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword.

British Pattern 1892 Infantry Officer’s Sword for an Officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps, c.WWI

This is an interesting example of the uncommon 1892 Pattern in that the blade has an attractive etched design not found on others of the period. Perhaps this is because it was made by a silversmith, Boynton & Son of Clerkenwell, London, who operated under this name from 1894 to 1919. These trading dates, and the royal cypher of King George V being on the hilt and blade, mean that this sword is very likely to have seen service in the First World War (likely with an officer of the RAMC). This makes sense because, whereas the blade is rare and handsome, the hilt, which should be gold-plated brass, has a silvery metal visible underneath its golden covering. During both World Wars shortcuts in the manufacturing processes of weapons were naturally sought as raw materials were in short supply—these have become known as ‘wartime expediency’ weapons and I think this explains the contrast between the eye-catching blade and less elegant hilt.

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Indian Cavalry Trooper’s Sword, c.WWI

An Anglo-Indian officer’s sword for issue to Indian regiments, the blade stamped Mole Birmingham makers 1916 ISD and RR 11.17, with leather scabbard, blade length 80cm. 

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British Pattern 1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword and Pattern 1856 Pioneer’s Sword

This lot from Bonhams offers us a chance to visually compare the dimensions of an infantry officer’s sword and an other ranks sidearm.

On the left, a British Pattern 1897 Infantry officer’s Sword carried by Lieut. T.H.F. Roberts of the Cheshire Regiment. 22 inch blade etched with conventional motifs and inscribed THF Roberts/12 Batt. Cheshire Regt. Ricasso marked Hawksworth/Sheffield. Semi-basket hilt of standard pattern and retaining the brown leather sword knot. Brown leather-covered field scabbard. Lieut. T.H.F. Roberts served abroad during World War I with the Cheshire Regiment and is listed as such on the Great European War Memorial in Prenton, Cheshire.

On the right, a British Pattern 1856 Pioneer’s Sword

by Robert Mole with 22 ½ inch sawback blade bearing War Department marks. Brass hilt of standard pattern. Brass-mounted leather scabbard.

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British Pattern 1912 Cavalry Officer’s Sword for an Officer of the 6th Dragoons (The Caribiniers)

89 cm blade by Wilkinson numbered 44031 for 1913 etched with regimental badge, GVR cypher, and Royal Arms and owners initials S.W.W., regulation steel hilt incorporating regimental badge, plated scabbard and complete with chamois covering and leather carrying case and field service scabbard.

British Court Sword, c.WWI