The Lee Metford rifle had a particularly attractive short sword bayonet that attached over the muzzle. As the rifle itself was quite long, the bayonet could be much shorter than its replacement the SMLE bayonet, being just 11″ long. The 1888 pattern bayonet was obsolescent by World War One, with the accompanying rifle mostly seeing service for training in the UK. The bayonet however was readily convertable into a trench knife, its shorter blade being far more useful than its later cousin. Tonight we are looking at a rather rough example of the 1888 pattern bayonet, that may or may not be a ‘trench knife’:
It is impossible to say if this bayonet was modified during World War One or just cut down in the last 120 years by a third party. It would certainly be nice to think that it is a trench knife, but I cannot say this with any certainty, although apparently large numbers were modified during the Great War. The pommel of the bayonet has been ground off and shaped over and the wear here suggests this was done many decades ago:
The muzzle ring has also been squashed from a round to an oval shape, again I do not know if this is purposely done, or just someone getting heavy handed in the vice when they ground off the pommel:
The grips are made of hardwood and secured with brass split screws:
It is fair to say that this bayonet has had a hard life, and the markings on the blade are almost obliterated, but they can still just about be made out:
The clearest marking is the large ‘X’- this indicates that the bayonet has passed a War Department bend test.
This bayonet is sadly badly damaged and heavily pitted. It was however very cheap and I will be keeping my eye out for a complete one in nice condition as they are particularly attractive blades.