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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Clasp knives & lanyards


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There have been many threads on the issue of clasp knives and of lanyards.

Clothing Regulations part 1 Regular Forces 1914 lists the following units to be issued with both items:


Household Cavalry

Cavalry of the Line












IIRC, the issue of the clasp knife and lanyard to all soldiers was authorised after mobilisation.

Does anybody have chapter and verse on this?

Any suggestions welcomed - if this covers old ground then please ignore - MODS to remove if required.

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This is an example of a BEF issue scale-This example is GRO 2621 of Fall of 1917 for winter scale--Luckily I had this on image shack. The knife issue instructions were common from GRO's going back to 1914 GRO 377 of 671 if I remmeber correctly. The only change being by 1916 the dismounted troops started receiving (Or were supposed to) Knife without Marline.


I also have scales for MEF, Salonika and Italy and all are the same.

Here is some more info:

As stated earlier every soldier issued a clasp knife was issued a lanyard. Prior to, and up to 1914, this included the Household Cavalry, Cavalry of the Line, MMP, RHA, RFA, RGA, RE, ASC, AVC, RFC, and AOC. Issue was usually to those performing mounted duties, or in units with horses. In the case of the Army Service Corps Horse Transport personnel got the knife but Motor Transport personnel did not(1). After mobilization began it is apparent that issue of the clasp knife more or less became universal. By October 1914 Infantry were being issued these knives.

Although use of the lanyard dates well into the 19th century the proper lanyard for use with the clasp knife dated to 1901 with pattern 5284a/1901, 11 June 1901(2). This pattern approved a series of lanyards acceptable for issue, all were plaited and all were off white. That is natural, non-bleached, flax with an appearance of white. It was up to the Corps how these were worn but invariably the clasp knife was worn in the left breast pocket with the lanyard around the left shoulder, as was the prescribed wear for at least Army Service Corps Horse Transport personnel(3).

After 1914 wear of white lanyard was common but by no means universal among all Corps. Also commonly seen were khaki lanyards. Three varieties were in existence; two for Pistols (LoC §§3315 and 13058) and one for whistles (LoC §11896)(4). Any of these could have been worn with the clasp knife or no lanyard at all.

1 ASC Training 1909 Pt I Appendix II

2 WO 359/11 p83

3 ibid

4 Priced Vocabulary of Stores, 1915 p.4

Joe Sweeney

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Thanks Joe - much appreciated.

As regards lanyards, am I correct in thinking that some TF and New Army units would have sourced them from local suppliers other than the approved suppliers due to the sudden huge increase in demand and that this is another reason for the seemingly wide variety of lanyards seen in photographs?

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