The humble jack knife was issued to nearly all soldiers in the second world war. It was a useful tool that many of them kept after their return to civilian life, consequently it is not hard to find. There are several variations on the jack knife depending on period, service and manufacturer, including examples with spikes for opening out ropes, but tonight we look at one of the most common WW2 types.
The jack knife is around three inches long, with black plastic grips and a loop to fasten a lanyard to:The lanyard was passed around the waist, through the belt loops, and the knife dropped through the loop at the end, allowing it to be stored in the trouser pocket with no danger of it getting lost. The knife itself is more compact that its WW1 counterpart, which was nearer to 5 inches in length.
Once folded out there is a blade:And a combined tin opener and screwdriver:This also has the /|\ mark, a date of 1944 and a manufacturer’s mark of S.S.P. which is short for Sheffield Steel Products. This company was a massive concern and produced 2 million clasp knives in World War 2 alone, a full history of the company can be found here.
These knives are very easy to find and prices start at around the £5 upwards. Earlier examples and oddities do fetch more and an interesting collection of different types can be put together. I have four or five different types now and at some point I will photograph them together to highlight some of the varieties.