WW1 British Army Mk V Wirecutters

The British Army introduced a new pattern of wirecutters, the Mk V, in 1912 just prior to World War One. This design was 11 inches long and could cut 4 S.W.G. of mild steel wire, they weighed 1lb 8oz. and the most destinctive feature about them was the three different cutting positions at their head:

Opening the two handles of the cutters opens up each of the sets of jaws ready to place around a piece of wire:

Drawing the legs together closes the gaps and cuts the wire, the intricate sets of levers increasing the pressure over that which a man could apply with his bare hands.

As with most military items, these wire cutters have a /|\ mark stamped into the steel:

This pattern of cutters were made by a number of different firms including Bradbury, Wolsely, Buck & Highman and what looks to be a firm called ‘Smith’ in this case:

As barbed wire got ever tougher, the mechanical advantage offered by the levers in the Mk V cutter became less effective and in 1916 a pair of folding wire cutters, with much longer arms to offer a far greater mechnical advantage were introduced. The Mk V was then marked as obscelescent, but continued to see service for decades afterwards and was issued in World War II to some troops.

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