Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Museum Highlights: WWI Bayonet

In honour of Memorial Day, July 1st in Newfoundland, this week's museum highlight features a First World War era bayonet.

Bayonet donated by Gordon Flynn [999.4.4]

Bayonets are a knife or dagger shaped weapon which is attached to a gun, typically a rifle, to create a longer reach. They bayonet is used as a last resort combat weapon, but are also used to control prisoners, check to see if a body is dead, and as utility knives.
Bayonet. Note the modifications made.

This bayonet is a Ross Rifle Co. blade that was made in Quebec. The maker's mark reads "Ross Rifle Co / Quebec / Patented 1907" and it is date stamped 3-10 (March 1910) with  a faded arrowhead in a circle which indicates ownership by the Canadian Government. The characteristic I I indicating a Mk. II is absent, instead it reads 08, and the inspection number is also 8. The crown over the inspection number is also faded. This type of bayonet was not adopted until 1908, even if the patent was for 1907, and not issued until 1910. This style is best known as the Ross Rifle 1910 Mark II Bayonet and was used by Canadian soldiers in WWI.

Top: Faded encircled arrowhead indicates Canadian Government ownership. Meaning of 08 unknown (if you know, please leave a comment), inspection mark is also faded, manufactured March 1910 (3-10)
Bottom: Ross Rifle company mark
This bayonet is heavily modified. It is rare to find one that was not modified in some way or another, usually in the reshaping of the blade. The Ross bayonets had a "butterknife" style blade, but this one has been sharpened into more of a hunting knife style point. As well, the part that attaches to the barrel of the rifle has been removed completely. The push-button/internal-spring latching mechanism for attaching it to a rifle is also missing.
Ross Rifle bayonet attached to a rifle. From Russell 2008.
Unmodified Ross Rifle bayonets. Note the difference from the bayonet in the museum's collection. From Dorosh 1999.

There is a strong likelihood that this bayonet was used more like a knife, at least at the end of its life. Such a knife is always useful in the hunting, fishing, and agriculture industries.

Donated by Gordon Glynn, 999.4.4.

Sources include:
Cahill, M.
2006    A Comprehensive Analysis of the Bayonet. One file at LBMCOC Museum.
Dorosh, M.A.
1999    Bayonets, canadiansoldiers.com. Accessed July 5, 2016.
Russell, C.A.
2008    Canadian Model 1905/1910 "Mark II" Ross Rifle Bayonet, Identification of Bayonets. Accessed July 5, 2016.

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