Indian Made SMLE Bayonet

As has been discussed before, India produced clothing and webbing in large quantities for Empire forces. They also had a growing armaments industry producing amongst other things the Short Magazine Lee Enfield and its bayonet. Broadly speaking the rifle was the same as that produced in the UK, but the bayonet was eventually modified to better suit production and use in the Far East. I have been looking for one of these distinctive bayonets for a while, so it was very gratifying to pick one up last Tuesday for a very reasonable price. The bayonet is a sword bayonet, similar to that made in Britain but a few inches shorter:imageAs can be seen the blade is not fullered and has a black phosphated finish to reduce rusting in the tropics. The shorter length makes it easier to manoeuvre in the close jungle environment of Burma. By removing the fuller the manufacturing process is greatly simplified and speeded up, with a resulting saving in costs. Only the tip of the blade is sharpened, but it is ground on both sides:imageThe shape allows the blade to pass between a man’s ribs without getting stuck. The hand grips are made of wood and the design of the grips, pommel, and fastenings are the same as those made in the UK:imageThe ricasso of the blade is stamped with a date of 1942 and the manufacturer’s initials:imageThe letters M.I.L. stand for Metal Industries, Lahore one of about ten factories in India producing bayonets. After partition this factory ended up in Pakistan and produced arms for them for a short period until the new country had properly organised its own state arsenals and factories. Sadly this bayonet is missing its scabbard, but this does not seem to be unusual for Indian Bayonets. These bayonets were overlooked and ignored by collectors for many years, but like a lot of Indian made equipment they have undergone a renaissance in the last few years and are starting to attract similar or slightly higher prices than their UK counterparts. The photograph below, although posed, shows what it was like to be on the receiving end of an Indian soldier and his bayonet, this is Naik Gulub Nhan in full charge:Indians-Italy-595x712

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