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shippingsteel

Ross Bayonets

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shippingsteel

As a lead-on from the previous thread regarding the Ross rifle (see Ross Mk.II 5*), I thought it might be interesting to have a discussion about the very unique looking Ross Bayonet.

As I mentioned previously, this is the bayonet that I have just picked up virtually site unseen from some very long-range photos, at first glance this just appears to be another piece of fairly battered kit. What it's history has been and what service it may or may not have seen are virtually impossible to determine without taking a closer look to see if there are any clues that may help us.

(It might make a refreshing change from the everyday questions regarding the good old "garden variety" P1907 SMLE bayonets.!!!) :D

Cheers, S>S

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shippingsteel

This bayonet is known as the Pattern 1911, Ross Bayonet Mk.II and differs from the first model in the lack of a muzzle ring extension and a smaller size quillon. It also lacks the "rivet looking" spring attachment in the very squared off pommel. (Perhaps someone may be able to shed light on the purpose of that small pommel detail)

The unusual thing about this bayonet is the complete lack of date stampings on the side face of the pommel, it is a total "cleanskin" in that it has no C^ government acceptance stamp and no date shown at all anywhere, all we can say is that it is post 1911 as that's when this model was first made. The lack of a government mark would normally suggest a private purchase or a volunteer militia usage. (If somebody from personal experience can tell us how common it is for this model to be lacking the C^ or date it would be appreciated.)

Thanks, S>S

EDIT: Correction of Pattern number to Pattern 1911

post-52604-1264588725.jpg

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shippingsteel

On the other side of the pommel we have the makers mark imprint which is common to all Ross bayonets. At the top of the pommel we also have some letters which appear to be MSP, and some numbers which resemble 824.

Prior to the war the Canadian Army did not really exist as such. Apart from a handful of permanent force regiments the job of defending the country was mainly left up to the part-time volunteer militia loosely grouped around the various provinces and urban areas. The country was divided up into 13 Military Districts each responsible for the training and administration of their own militia units.

Military District 10 was expanded in 1907 to include all of Manitoba and Saskatchewan Provinces and parts of north-west Ontario. Based on this information I am assuming the letters MSP to represent the abbreviated form of Manitoba and Saskatchewan Province. (If anyone can confirm that it would be appreciated)

If that assumption is correct it would mean that this bayonet was indeed part of the kit of Canada's pre-war volunteer militia.

Thanks, S>S

pomm4.JPG

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shippingsteel

The numbers 824 on the side of the pommel most likely represents the rifle "rack" number. Militia units especially would have had the bulk of their weaponry stored for long periods in the local provincial arsenal, usually in racks. These weapons would only have been brought out for training purposes or other times of need. You can see from the photo below that this bayonet definitely shows signs of having been attached to a rifle for long periods, the areas either side of the mortise slot have had the original bluing removed through chemical reaction with the bayonet attachment on the rifle, and other wear and abrasion over time.

The other markings on the tang of the hilt are the manufacturer's inspection stamps which in this case are a Crown over 4. The same stamp was normally used over the entire bayonet.

EDIT: I was just thinking that if you ever took a weapon into action that performed as "well" as the Ross rifle, you would want your bayonet "permanently attached", wouldn't you.!!! :D

post-52604-1264657236.jpg

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Wardog

I have an non 'C' marked one that I will take pictures of soon. The frog part of the scabard has a brass stud. There was once a web site (the Brothers Ross site?) that had good info. but I am unable to find it now. If what I have read is correct it was UK issued. Regards, Paul.

Just had a look at mine and the blade is unalterd, as the description in The Bayonet Book- so perhaps yours is as you think it may be- pre war private bought item. Cheers, Paul.

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shippingsteel
I have an non 'C' marked one that I will take pictures of soon. The frog part of the scabard has a brass stud. There was once a web site (the Brothers Ross site?) that had good info. but I am unable to find it now. If what I have read is correct it was UK issued. Regards, Paul.

Just had a look at mine and the blade is unalterd, as the description in The Bayonet Book- so perhaps yours is as you think it may be- pre war private bought item. Cheers, Paul.

Thanks Wardog, does yours have any date/model marks on the side of the pommel where the 'C' might be found.? It would be good if you could post a photo of your "unmodified" blade for comparison.

Cheers, S>S

EDIT: Just found THIS PHOTO on a website which could be as you described - this was made for UK issue, supposedly with a different "hollow ground" blade

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Wardog

Manufacturers details like yours and on the other side just four 5mm high numbers 1795 . Will take some snaps tommorow in daylight. Cheers, Paul.

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shippingsteel

When the war started the Canadian government strangely decided not to mobilise the existing militia units, but instead form a totally new force which was to become the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Many of the pre-war militia troops rushed to sign up for the new force afraid they might "miss out on the action". The CEF eventually grew during the war to number 260 infantry battalions plus many supporting units. The First contingent of the CEF was assembled at Camp Valcartier in Quebec shortly after the outbreak of the war and then sent to England to train.

The very first battalion to be formed for the CEF was known (strangely enough.!) as the 1st Battalion (Western Ontario Regiment). Looking at the below photo we can see stamped on the grip the markings 1WOR. It is stamped in the Canadian fashion of the time with very widely spaced letters and is a little difficult to see with oil/grease and normal wear over time all combining to erase its mark. This battalion holds an arguable "pride of place" in Canadian military history, being the 1st Battalion, of 1st Brigade, of the 1st Canadian Division that first fought at Ypres in 1915.

Other stamps that we can make out are the Crown over 4 manufacturer's inspection mark towards the top of the grip which tells us that this grip is most probably the original one fitted to the bayonet, as it matches the other marks on the tang. There is also the numbers 415 stamped across the crossguard which was most probably the 1st Battalion's rifle/rack number for this weapon.

All of these clues point towards this bayonet having been "taken along for the ride", with the initial volunteers from the pre-war militia that signed up for the first contingent of the CEF.

It also points to a probable shortage of equipment and with the Government having no stockpiles to call on, the first battalions formed were forced to take along their own existing weapons from the militia arsenals.

post-52604-1264737820.jpg

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Wardog

Pictures of my Ross which I think to be British issue. Only marking arrow on the crossguard. Regards, Paul.

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shippingsteel

Thanks for those great pictures Wardog, definitely same model bayonet but sporting the original "butcher knife" style point to the blade.

That's a very nice scabbard you've got there, the set looks very similar to the other photo (link) that I posted, which was also described as British issue.

I think the broad arrow on the crossguard would definitely confirm that it was part of a British contract, but I don't know any more details about how or why that happened.

They certainly didn't want anyone to miss those numbers on the pommel - HUGE...!!!

Cheers, S>S

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Michael Johnson

I've seen it written that Canadian numerals were deliberately larger to facillitate overstamping of previous British Army markings.

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4thGordons

Question: when you both refer (above) to "British issue" / "British contract" do you mean: issued in Britain to the CEF or purchased/issued by the British Govt to British troops?

Chris

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Wardog

British Contract Chris. October 1915. I'm no expert and would welcome full info. on British use. Also looks to have been WWII usage with the Home Guard. Cheers, Paul.

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shippingsteel
Question: when you both refer (above) to "British issue" / "British contract" do you mean: issued in Britain to the CEF or purchased/issued by the British Govt to British troops?

Chris

From what I understand (ahh not a lot.!) and quoting details from the old-smithy website, there was indeed a "British contract" that included "Canadian Ross (bayonets) made for UK issue".

These appear to have been a special order as "these have a hollow ground blade rather than the straight blade found on the Canadian issue bayonets". Some of these were said to have "UK acceptance marks on Cross guard".

Apparently before the war there was also another order which was "part of a contract for 500 for the Royal Navy". These bayonets eventually ended up being given to Chile with a navy vessel purchase deal.!!! So some very strange things can happen it seems.

As I mentioned in a previous post I am not sure of the exact details of the "British contract". Any well informed input would be much appreciated.

Cheers, S>S

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Mk VII

Chile ordered two battleships from Armstrongs at Elswick before the war, called the Almirante Latorre and the Almirante Cochrane. These were compulsorily purchased by the Admiralty in 1914, over Chilean objections. The Almirante Cochrane was eventually completed as the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, and retained. Almirante Latorre served as HMS Canada and was sold back to Chile after the war, together with the contents of its arms locker which included Ross rifles (and bayonets). When the ship was scrapped in the 1950s the rifles were purchased by an American arms dealer.

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sabine72

Hello

I have the same as Wardog and the broad arrow is in a circle and next to the numbers 11/15 the scabbard is marked with the numbers 103 C R 531 and on top MK II R.R.C A Canadian broad arrow and the numbers 19/6

Kind regards

Pat

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TonyE

There has been quite a bit of conjecture so far on this thread about the British Ross contract, so I thought I would post some details.

Britain ordered 100,000 Ross Mark IIIB rifles and bayonets from the Ross Rifle Company by contract signed on 15th September 1914, with delivery to commence in March 1915 and be complete by April 1916. The Ross IIIB differed in a number of ways from the Canadian issue Ross Mark III. The rearsight was stronger, the foresight was different, more like a P.13/14, and the stock was thicker in the area forward of the magazine.

The first rifles were all rejected by British inspectors for many reasons, not least that Ross was using the wrong (weaker) steel for barrels, and the first 19 rifles were not accepted until 21st August, six months late.

Meanwhile the Ross had proved a disaster with the CEF in France and Britain was providing SMLEs in exchange for Canadian Mark III rifles. Without going into long detail, suffice to say that the British government cancelled the contract on 18th February 1917 and a month later the Canadians did also, seizing the Ross factory at the same time.

Of the 100,000 Mark IIIB rifles and bayonets ordered from Ross it is believed 65,590 were delivered, plus we acquired about 95,674 Mark III rifles from the CEF in exchange for SMLEs.

Most of the Ross Mark IIIB rifles went to the Royal Navy to replace their Japanese .256" Arisakas, which in turn went to Russia. That is why the Chilean Almirante Latorre (HMS Canada) had Ross rifles on board when it went back to Chile. Incidently, the Chilean Mauser rifles originally aboard the Latorre when she was seized in 1914 went into Royal Navy service.

In 1914 when we were desperate for any rifles, the Admiralty bought about 750 Ross rifles, a mixture of Mark I and II, that had been sold as surplus to American dealers before the war and who now sold them to the Royal Navy. There was no pre-war contract.

One other difference between the Mark III and the IIIB is that the British rifles are serial numbered in the normal way on the metal. They run in blocks of 1000, 1-1000, A1-A1000, B1-B1000 etc. The highest british numbers are in the G series.

The "British" Ross bayonet was as previously described with the original shape blade. Most have a Broad arrow on the ricasso together with an Enfield inspection stamp. Royal Navy issue bayonets usually have a rack number stamped in the right grip between the screws and an "N" between the pommel and the first screw.

I hope that clears things up a little,

Regards

TonyE

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shippingsteel

Thanks for that information TonyE, that definitely fills in the gaps, much appreciated.

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shippingsteel
Hello

I have the same as Wardog and the broad arrow is in a circle and next to the numbers 11/15 the scabbard is marked with the numbers 103 C R 531 and on top MK II R.R.C A Canadian broad arrow and the numbers 19/6

Kind regards

Pat

If your broad arrow in a circle is on the side of the pommel, it could well be the C^ government mark with the date of manufacture 11/15 being Nov.1915.

Also the scabbard markings 103 CR 531 most likely represent the abbreviation of 103rd Battalion (Canadian Rifles) with rack number 531.

The markings on top of scabbard most likely are the Mk.II bayonet model number, with RRC being Ross Rifle Company, the Canadian government mark and the year 1916.

Cheers, S>S

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shippingsteel

The attached shot of my Ross bayonet below clearly shows the battalion rack number deeply stamped into the crossguard. These numbers were used as a form of inventory control

originally in arsenal stores, I am not sure how they would have been of much use for keeping track of anything when the troops actually entered the field of battle.

Notice also on Ross bayonets that the ricasso is normally totally bare of any markings, quite different to the usual British manner of bayonet identification.

471.JPG

post-52604-1264813539.jpg

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Mk VII

This one says 11 4/16. The blade is of the unmodified Mk.II type

standard.jpg

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shippingsteel
This one says 11 4/16. The blade is of the unmodified Mk.II type

So we have the C^ government mark, I believe the 11 represents Pattern 1911, the year in which the Mk.II model was first made; the date of manufacture April 1916, and the Crown over 4 inspection mark.

Note the same inspection mark Crown over 4 also used on the timber of the grip, usually denotes the original grip, probably has not been replaced.

EDIT: There has always been a little confusion over the exact designation of the different model Ross bayonets, so I have done some checking up and can confirm:-

The earlier model (with the extended muzzle ring) is the Pattern 1908 or Ross Bayonet Mk.I, marked with the numerals 08 on side of the pommel

The later model (without the extended muzzle ring) is the Pattern 1911 or Ross Bayonet Mk.II, marked with the numerals 11 on side of the pommel

Cheers, S>S

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shippingsteel

This is the final "slide" of my "show and tell" presentation, thanks everyone for your patience.!!! :D

The final photo provides probably the most obvious and "telling" evidence that this bayonet has a story to be told.

When the CEF landed in England they were sent to Salisbury Plain for further training. It was during this time, (I am not certain of the detail perhaps someone can elaborate further) it was decided that the original bayonet shape was inadequate. An attempt was made to improve the penetration qualities of the bayonet by modifying the existing rounded point, into a sharper angled point. This was done by simply cutting down the blade, regrinding a new edge and then resharpening as required. This left a quite obvious pointed "apex" on the bottom edge of the blade. Later manufactured bayonets actually came from the factory with this overall shape, but were more smoothly curved upwards towards the point and lacked the apex on the cutting edge.

As this modification was only done in England during the early stages of the war, it very strongly suggests that this is a "service" bayonet, that most probably accompanied the troops of the first contingent CEF, as they moved into France in readiness for their first major action at Ypres in April 1915.

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trajan

Checking on Ross bayonets for a mate, and stumbled on this ancient thread...

Just to add that as far as I can work out, the first Ross bayonet was introduced in 1908 and so was Pattern 1908, and so marked '08'.

EG, as in this example (where the stepped cross-guard is clearly visible):

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The second pattern was (as far as I can determine) introduced in November 1911, and so became the Pattern 1911, and was marked '11'.

From December 1911, the two versions were referred to as the Mark I and Mark II types

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