It has been a while since a bayonet appeared on the blog, so tonight we are looking at an early example of an SMLE bayonet. Regular readers may recall we looked at a second world war production example here. This particular example dates back to 1915 and there are a couple of interesting points on this bayonet. The first and most obvious thing to notice is that the blade has been chromed:This was done for use on parade and makes the bayonet look particularly impressive in the sunshine, as the light catches and glints off the chroming. The ricasso of the bayonet has the date and manufacturer’s details, in this case the blade was made by Sanderson in March 1915:The opposite side has the War Department /|\ and various inspectors marks stamped into the steel:It is on the tip of the pommel that this bayonet really becomes interesting though. Here what I believe are the letters ‘6KRR’ are stamped into the metal:This indicates that the bayonet was originally issued to the 6th Kings Royal Rifle Corps. It is always nice to find a piece of equipment marked to a particular unit! The other feature of the pommel is what it is missing. In 1916 a small hole was added to the pommel to allow cleaning of the catch and springs used to attach the bayonet to the rifle. It was found that the mud of the trenches was working its way into this area and fouling up the mechanism and so a small hole was provided so a piece of wire could be inserted to unclog the catch. This bayonet, dating from before this change does not have this feature. By way of illustrating the point, here is the handle of the Second World War example, with the cleaning hole clearly visible:These little holes seem to be often referred to as ‘oiling holes’ but bayonet catches do not really need oiling, they do need to be kept clear of debris. The following is the official list of changes entry for the adding of these little holes, published on the 23rd February 1916:
17692 – Sword Bayonet, Pattern 1907, Mark I. 5 Jan 1916
23 Feb 1916
Drilling of clearance hole through pommel
In future manufacture, sword-bayonets of the above mentioned pattern ( LoC 14170 ) will have a hole drilled through the pommel to facilitate the removal of mud, dirt, &c., that may accumulate in the bottom of the mortice for the sword bar of the rifle nose-cap, and so prevent the bolt of the sword-bayonet shooting and locking the sword-bayonet on the rifle.
In workshops where the necessary machinery and tools are available the hole may be drilled, as occasion offers, through the pommel to the size and in the position shown in the accompanying drawing, the position first being marked off. “
And the official diagram that went with the change: