Billhook

Many household and agricultural implements were also used by the military, these items were stamped with the WD /|\ mark just the same as more warlike items. Today’s item is one of these, a billhook. Billhooks are one of the most ancient hand tools used by man dating back at least as far as the bronze age, the design would be as recognisable to a Roman Legionary as it would to a British Tommy.

The billhook is a tool designed to cut small woody plants such as shrubs and branches. The billhook is sharpened only on the inner face and is used by pulling the tool towards the user. Billhooks have long found military use, either for clearing fields of fire or for cutting brushwood to make fascines and gabions for machine gun emplacements.

This tool is 16 inches long, with a curved 10 inch iron blade and wooden handle:

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It has the war department arrow, manufacturers name and a date stamp of 1943 on the blade:

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This particular style of billhook is based on the ‘Pontypool’ pattern of billhook and this pattern was first used in the Great War, presumably because it was more robust for the sort of ill treatment that soldiers would give it. was issued with the 25 pounder field gun as an item of equipment in the limber to help clear suitable firing grounds. As far as can be ascertained these were never issued with scabbards- they were not meant to be carried by individual troops but were issued on an as needed basis.

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