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Remembered Today:

P1903 Guards Bayonet


shippingsteel
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So here is my recently acquired P1903 bayonet after a quick cleanup. It's a fairly tidy example made all the more interesting by the large array of markings it has present (some of which have been previously discussed HERE ). It came to me at a very reasonable price so I am extremely pleased with the way it has come up. They are getting harder to find in any sort of condition.

This one was originally made by Enfield in 1901 as a P1888, but later converted into the P1903 format with the introduction of the SMLE rifle. It has also been re-issued in '06 and '07 so appears to have been quite 'busy'. It is marked on the pommel as having originally been issued to the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards and this regimental stamp has been cancelled out by the armourers, probably during one of the reissues.

Cheers, S>S

post-52604-092833000 1295765977.jpg

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Here is the closeup of the regimental marking, showing the unit stamp of 2CG over 344 which indicates belonging to the Coldstream Guards at some stage.

Also the other interesting marking below, the WN. with 2497 marked out, which we have discussed previously without reaching any definite conclusions.!

Cheers, S>S

post-52604-030415100 1295766771.jpg

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But for me the most intriguing marking of all, and one which I have never come across before, is the italicised letter S that is heavily stamped into the timber of both grips.

It seems to have been put there with such intent, and so clearly on both sides that it makes me think it must signify something important. It is not just some randomly applied letter.

I have been running through all of the possibilities and the one which keeps coming up as making a little sense, is that the marking is indicative of a Scout bayonet - but why the mark.?

Hopefully someone will know or have seen this type of marking before, even the style of the stamp may ring some bells. Any thoughts always appreciated.

Cheers, S>S

post-52604-074610100 1295767038.jpg

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Nice bayonet; I can't help you with the "S" on it, but can you help me with the "2" stamped on one of the grips of my P1907 Wilkinson 9/18. It's only on the one grip as the other has been replaced at some point. Are numbers or letters stamped on the grips common, and what do they usually indicate?

post-59637-017045300 1295811731.jpg

Thanks, Paul

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I have seen odd numbers stamped on grips before - but not letters like this.

It does remind me of the S stamping you find on the underside of "Short" SMLE buttstocks.(S=Short unmarked=Normal L= Long then later on B=Bantam)

I can think of no reason that "Scouts" would have specially marked bayonets.

The only thing I can think of that might make sense is indeed "Short". The logic would run: P1888 and 1903 bayonets would have been in service for an overlapping period. P1888 would fit on MLMs MLEs CLLEs etc but the only rifle the 1903 would fit would be the (new) "Short" Magazine Lee Enfield. As it uses a 1888 pattern blade and is externally similar perhaps the S was a way of indicating the distinction regarding which rifle it was for? (like the grooves in a P13/M1917 handle) Pure guess, nothing to substanitate it but makes sense of a kind.....

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Nice bayonet; I can't help you with the "S" on it, but can you help me with the "2" stamped on one of the grips of my P1907 Wilkinson 9/18. It's only on the one grip as the other has been replaced at some point. Are numbers or letters stamped on the grips common, and what do they usually indicate?

I believe that it is fairly uncommon for British bayonets to have anything at all stamped on the grips (other than the usual inspection marks on earlier examples). Other countries did do it, with Canada in particular being especially keen on stamping info into their timber grips.

When you do see it occur it is usually very hard to put any meaning to it, unless it is in some easily recognisable format, such as a regimental stamp or similar unit identifier. As I mentioned earlier they mostly appear to be "just some randomly applied letter" (or number as the case may be). All you can do is try to put the mark into some context by gathering whatever extra information you can from the other markings that are present (such as dates or units), and then see if you can put the puzzle together.

Cheers, S>S

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The only thing I can think of that might make sense is indeed "Short". The logic would run: P1888 and 1903 bayonets would have been in service for an overlapping period. P1888 would fit on MLMs MLEs CLLEs etc but the only rifle the 1903 would fit would be the (new) "Short" Magazine Lee Enfield. As it uses a 1888 pattern blade and is externally similar perhaps the S was a way of indicating the distinction regarding which rifle it was for? (like the grooves in a P13/M1917 handle) Pure guess, nothing to substanitate it but makes sense of a kind.....

I like your reasoning Chris - it does makes sense to me. Especially when considering the date/period and the context of a newly introduced style of weapon. (Added closeup of the stamp below)

The fact that it has been applied similarly to both sides of the bayonet suggests that it is not random, and that it is there to indicate something important that needs to be easily visible.

The analogy to the grooves in the handle of the P13/M17 bayonets I think is a good one and the rationale for doing so would be consistent in both situations. A good suggestion and probably a correct one.

Another piece of context is the fact that its marked to the Coldstream Guards. You would expect that the first regular army troops to receive the new weaponry would be the premier regiments with precedence, there being none more so than the Guards. With everything new that is implemented there is always that familiarisation period that is required, so perhaps they were marked in this way to assist in the process.

Cheers, S>S

post-52604-043495800 1295835678.jpg

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  • 4 years later...

Here is the closeup of the regimental marking, showing the unit stamp of 2CG over 344 which indicates belonging to the Coldstream Guards at some stage.

Also the other interesting marking below, the WN. with 2497 marked out, which we have discussed previously without reaching any definite conclusions.!

Becoming (slowly) quite a fan of these P.1888's and P.1903's, this 'W N.' marking has been bugging me (and presumably SS also) for a while... Yes, no doubt about the meaning of the 2CG, but that marking is lined / struck out with a single line and the W N. has a double striking, which might imply it pre-dates the 2CG... But I would not stress that! And yet there are no other markings (except for those mysterious grip markings)... But there is nothing in the GB markings system that matches the 'WN'... Maybe the West Newfoundland Militia?

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Becoming (slowly) quite a fan of these P.1888's and P.1903's, this 'W N.' marking has been bugging me (and presumably SS also) for a while... Yes, no doubt about the meaning of the 2CG, but that marking is lined / struck out with a single line and the W N. has a double striking, which might imply it pre-dates the 2CG... But I would not stress that! And yet there are no other markings (except for those mysterious grip markings)... But there is nothing in the GB markings system that matches the 'WN'... Maybe the West Newfoundland Militia?

Trajan,

Two British OTC's ( Officer Training Corps ) Units ( Junior Division ) used ' WN ' as their mark. Wellington College used WN. C and Wolverhampton Grammar School used WN. GS. It could be that because of the position of the clearance hole in relation to the stamping space available, all they could fit in was the ' WN '.

An OTC. Unit such as Wellington C. or Wolverhampton GS., could have used a surplus P1903 bayonet.

Regards,

LF

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Two British OTC's ( Officer Training Corps ) Units ( Junior Division ) used ' WN ' as their mark. Wellington College used WN. C and Wolverhampton Grammar School used WN. GS. It could be that because of the position of the clearance hole in relation to the stamping space available, all they could fit in was the ' WN '.

An OTC. Unit such as Wellington C. or Wolverhampton GS., could have used a surplus P1903 bayonet.

Thanks LF. although I do wonder if they would have shortened it that way... especially as SS's RAD marked 1888 has the OTC prefix - see http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=146040&page=1entry1400168But who knows! Except, that is, that 'WN.' does not seem to be a regular marking...

Wild guess, maybe S represents 'substitute' as in replacement grips.

Wild guesses are as useful as anything! I did wonder is S was for Sanderson, meself...

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