Category Archives: Bayonet

SA80 Other Arms Bayonet Scabbard

The SA80 bayonet we looked at a few weeks ago was used in combat with a black plastic scabbard that protected the blade and allowed it to be carried in the PLCE frog. When the SA80 rifle was introduced it was decided to offer two different scabbards for the bayonet. Frontline infantry would receive a version with built in saw, wire cutter and sharpening stone. Rear echelon troops received a simpler (and cheaper) scabbard without these features, the argument being that they would rarely need to use any of these features so it was safe to delete them. This simplified scabbard was made from a black Phenolite plastic:imageThe design retained the fixing points to allow the extra features to be added if required:imageThe differences between the two scabbards can be seen here:imageOther features remain the same however, so six raised grooves are provided near the throat to allow grip to remove the bayonet from the scabbard and to help add extra rigidity to this portion:imageA small plastic detent is used to keep the bayonet in the scabbard and prevent it from rattling around:imageThe bayonet fits neatly inside, but will only fit in one way due to the design of the bayonet itself with its offset grip:imageIn order to attach the scabbard to the PLCE frog, a female Fastex clip is moulded into the top of the scabbard:imageThis marries up with a male Fastex clip sewn into the frog itself and keeps the scabbard firmly attached.

This scabbard has clearly seen some service as an armourer’s rack number is painted on it in white:imageThese simplified scabbards are much easier to find on the collectors’ market than the full combat versions which have not been released for resale in anywhere near the same amount and can easily make five times the price of their simpler counterparts.

White Ceremonial SA80 Bayonet Frog

The SA80 bayonet has a large number of frogs available for different purposes. Alongside those for use in combat are specialist patterns for the parade ground. Black artificial leather ones are issued to The Rifles, but the most common type is a woven white nylon design:imageThe Army’s dress regulations explain:

Except in the very few units that wear black accoutrements, the waist belts, bayonet frogs, sword slings and shoulder belts etc. worn by the soldiers in Full Dress are invariably white, and this applies also in No. 1 Dress.

The frog has a plastic former inside to help it keep its shape and a piece of brass protects the throat as the bayonet is inserted and withdrawn:imageA belt loop is sewn into the top of the frog to allow it to be carried:imageA pair of brass rivets help reinforce this and prevent the weight of the bayonet from splitting the stitching:imageThe bayonet fits into the frog neatly, with just the handle visible:imageFor parades these frogs are cleaned and polished until they are sparkling. Brasso is used on the protector and rivets to make them shine and a white liquid cleaner is provided, much like emulsion paint, that is used to ensure they are sparkling and white. They are worn with a white woven nylon belt and can be seen with both the bayonet carried in them, or empty if a regiment has the freedom of a city to march with fixed bayonets through the street.555x300-guards-case-study

SA80 Bayonet

When introduced the SA80 bayonet was quite a departure for the British Army. The new SA80 rifle was very different from anything that had been issued before, being shorter and lighter than was typical at the time. The bayonet which went with it was cast as a single piece and was designed to fit over the muzzle, the rifle firing through the grip.imageThe bayonets were produced using the lost wax casting process and were produced as a single casting of six bayonets that were then separated and machined to the final design.

The bayonet was being seen by some armies at the time as obsolete, however the British had used the bayonet with the SLR in the Falklands just a few years before to some effect and felt there was still a place for it in the modern army. The SA80 pamphlet sets out the doctrine for the use of a bayonet in modern warfare:

When closing with the enemy at close quarters there may well be the occasion for hand to hand combat. The bayonet is issued specifically for this pur­pose. In most cases bayonets will be fixed in a final assault position just prior to fight­ing through an objective. Situations arise when it is not possible to shoot at the enemy. These could be, running out of ammunition, a stoppage during an assault, or the close proximity of a fellow soldier making a shot too dangerous. In these circumstances the use of the bayonet may be the only alternative. It can also have a demoralizing effect on the enemy.

The official description of the SA80 bayonet is:

The bayonet is shaped to produce good penetration when thrust, point first, into the body and is de­signed to part the ribs without embedding into the bone. It has a cutting edge which should be kept sharp; the curved part of the back of the bayonet must not be sharp­ened as this will reduce its rib parting ability. The recesses along the blade are blood channels to reduce any suction effect and enable a clean withdrawal from the body. The ribbed portion of the blade is for rope cutting. imageThere is a slot at the forward end for use with the scabbard. imageThe handle is shaped so that the bayonet can be used as a fighting knife; at the rear of the handle is the release catch which holds it onto the muzzle of the rifle.imageThe handle is heavily ribbed to allow for grip when it is used as a fighting knife and the catch ensures that the cutouts in the handle will line up with the corresponding gas slots in the muzzle of the rifle:imageThe quillion of the bayonet has a larger depth behind where the thumb would rest for a right-handed soldier using it as a fighting knife:imageUsing the bayonet with such a short rifle brings its own challenges, the following positions are illustrated by the pamphlet as the best ways to use the bayonet:capturecapture1capture2capture3

6KRR Marked Early SMLE Bayonet

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:imageThis 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:imageThe opposite side has the War Department /|\ and various inspectors marks stamped into the steel:imageIt 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:imageThis 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:image38These 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:post-69449-0-78896200-1416402958

82 Pattern Bayonet Frogs

We are nearing the end of our study of the Canadian 82 pattern set, but we still have a few bits to look at and tonight we are considering two different variants of the 82 pattern bayonet frog:imageThere are actually three variations of the bayonet frog, an earlier design for the C1 bayonet was shorter and lacked a top strap, sadly I do not have an example of that one. When the C7 was introduced it was found that the bayonet could easily fall out of the scabbard so a new design was introduced with a top strap. Two distinct versions of this frog exist, the earliest securing with Velcro:imageThis was clearly found to be inadequate as a variant was introduced that replaced the Velcro with a press stud:imageBoth have a pair of nylon loops to hold the stud on the bayonet scabbard:imageThe rear of one of the frogs has an NSN number and the owner’s name written on in pen:imageInterestingly I have seen accounts that suggest bayonets in the Canadian army were armoury issued rather than on permanent issue to troops, but they came pre-fitted in a frog. As it was a real pain to dismantle the webbing sets to fit the frog on every time, soldiers bought their own frog and left it permanently attached to the webbing, then took the bayonet and scabbard out of the frog issued by the armoury and fitted it into their own frog already on the webbing set; before reversing the process when it was time to hand the bayonets back in.

Ross Mk II Bayonet

At the start of the First World War the Canadian Expeditionary Force was armed with an indigenously produced rifle, the Ross. This rifle was to be problematic and was eventually dropped in favour of the SMLE, however it remained in use for snipers and saw further service in WW2 with the British Home Guard. As with nearly all military rifles in service at the time it was supplied with a bayonet and tonight we are looking at the second model of bayonet issued for the rifle:imageThis bayonet is particularly attractive, with a definite weight to it, it has a much shorter blade than that used on the SMLE, but the blade is thicker in cross section and feels sturdier:imageThis shorter length made it a popular choice for a trench knife due to its handiness in the trenches of the First World War during raids and examples were modified by removing the muzzle ring and shortening them even more to tailor them for this use. The pommel on the bayonet is marked ‘Ross Rifle Company, Quebec’ on one side:imageAnd has a number of marks on the opposite side including a /|\ within a ‘C’ Canadian acceptance mark, the date 08/16 (August 1916) and a ‘11’ indicating this is a MkII pattern bayonet first introduced in 1911:imageThe Mk II differed from the earlier pattern which had an extended muzzle ring and a larger quinion , this was changed in the second pattern which provided the right sized muzzle ring and slimmed down the quinion:imageThe bayonet was fitted to a ‘T’ shaped lug on the underside of the rifle’s barrel, with a channel provided for this to slide into. Sadly this bayonet is missing the sprung catch that would have allowed the bayonet to be secured, and removed from the rifle:imageHere we have a fine study of a young Canadian soldier in Canada holding his Ross rifle, complete with the bayonet attached:19th%20bn%20cefA generation later and we see the bayonet in use by the Home Guard in Britain, training with their Ross rifles:captureI have a number of bayonets in my collection now, and this one is competing with my No7 for the title of my favourite. It is a really nice piece to hold in your hand and beautifully made…now I just need a Ross to go with it!

SLR L1A3 Bayonet

When the Self Loading Rifle (SLR) was introduced the British Army naturally introduced a bayonet to go with their new rifle. They seem to have been very happy with the clipped bowie shaped blade they had used with the No5 Bayonet, No 7 Bayonet (see here) and the No 9 Bayonet (see here) and mated this to a new crosspiece and pommel to fit the SLR:imageThe bayonet is 305mm long, with a 203mm long blade and due to the blade shape continued to use the same scabbard introduced for the earlier bayonets. This example is an L1A3, introduced in the late-1950s, which made the protruding press stud used to release the bayonet flush with the rest of the pommel:imageA long deep fuller runs down each side of the blade, this allows a vacuum to be released when the blade has been stabbed into the torso of a man and thus allows the bayonet to be withdrawn more easily:imageThis particular bayonet also has the modifications introduced into production from the mid-1960s onwards when the length of the fuller was reduced and the ricasso lengthened due to a perceived weakness in the design at this point:imageOriginally the fuller ran almost the entire length of the blade, this feature was deleted on the L1A4 bayonet introduced in the 1970s which reverted to a full length fuller. The cross piece has a large ring, 14.9mm in diameter, to fit over the muzzle of the rifle:imageThe grips of the bayonet are made of a hard black plastic, secured with two rivets:imageThe combined ‘ED’ trademark of the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield can just be made out stamped on the plastic grips. Like all British bayonets of the post war period, this blade is of very high quality and finish. The bayonet was to see extensive use in The Falklands War, as witnessed by this visceral account by Guards Lieutenant Robert Lawrence MC:

I stuck my bayonet into the back of his arm, dug it right in because I had run out of ammunition. He spun wildly on the ground and my bayonet snapped. And as he spun, he was trying to get a Colt 45 out of an Army holster on his waist. So I had to stab him to death. I stabbed him and I stabbed him, again and again, in the mouth, in the face, in the guts, with a snapped bayonet. It was absolutely horrific [retrospectively — at the time he recalls crying out ‘Isn’t this fun?’ not long after this incident]. Stabbing a man to death is not a clean way to kill somebody, and what made it doubly horrific was that at one point he started screaming ‘Please. . .‘ in English to me. But if I had left him he could have ended up shooting me in the back. I took his rifle, moved on, shot a sniper, picked up his and moved on again.