Category: wwi

Western Front, February 1917

“We only get shot at by arrangement”

from the TV miniseries “ANZACS”

The Bantam Battalions of the Great War

from The History Guy: History Deserves to be Remembered

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. 

Wooden revolver carved by a Turkish prisoner of war, World War I.

from War & Son Medals and Military Antiques

US Model 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle used during World War I, later retrofitted to Model 1918A2 for World War II.

from Morphy’s Auctions

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.

Scarce Russian Maxim machine gun with brass cooling sleeve. Captured by Germany during World War I and converted to 8mm.

from Morphy’s Auctions

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.

The Easter Uprising and 20,000 Russian Rifles,

During World War I Germany and Irish Republicans were allies as it was in Germany’s best interest to destabilize the British Empire in any way possible, and or course the Irish Rebels needed weapons and supplies. In 1916 the German government offered support for the Easter Uprising, a planned rebellion to take place in Dublin on April 24th. On April 9th, 1916 the SS Libau (disguised as the Norwegian merchant ship SS Aud) disembarked from the port of Lubeck, steaming around Denmark and Norway, sneaking past the British blockade, then looping around the North Atlantic before steaming south and secretly delivering it’s cargo at an Irish port. 

The cargo carried by the SS Libau consisted of 20,000 Russian Mosin Nagant Model 1891 bolt action rifles along with 4 million rounds of ammunition. The rifles had been captured by the German Army on the Eastern Front, and since they did not share common caliber with standard German infantry firearms, was used as a second line rifle, or supplied to Central Power nations and other allies. In addition to the rifles were ten machine guns and explosives.

The SS Libau was able to reach the Irish coast, however it was discovered by three British destroyers who were suspicious of an unexpected visit by a “Norwegian merchant ship”. Once in Cork harbor the crew scuttled the ship, sending it to the bottom of Cork harbor on April 16th, a mere weak before the Easter Rising. A number of Mosin Nagant rifles were salvaged by Royal Navy divers, and today there are dozens of examples on display in museums across Ireland and the UK. The rifles pictured above are on display at the National Museum of Ireland, the rifle pictured below is part of the Royal Collection Trust.

Savage Lewis Model 1914 machine gun in .303 British, World War I.

from Morphy’s Auctions