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Desmond7

Bayonet experience

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Desmond7

Back to the good old bayonet ... anyway, here we go.

Loads about people sticking the bayonet IN .... but not much I've read from those who were on the receiving end. Not all victims of a bayonet thrust could have died ... so, does anyone have any accounts from those who received cold steel, how they felt and in what circumstances the incident took place?

Des

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andigger

Des... I am anxious to see who responds to this. One of the first things I remember learning about WWI in college was that there were so few instances where the bayonet would have been used (as compared to previous wars). Something to the effect of less than 5% of all wounds were bayonet inflicted.

Given that small number (or something close to it) I could see where there would be limited personal accounts from the receiving end.

I fully stand to be corrected on anything in this post.

Andy

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paul guthrie

Try Louisville Kentucky in 1977. I damn near died from loss of blood but it was not painful. They stabbed 3 of us after we got them kicked out of a Waylon Jennings concert. Both got 20 years.

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Pte1643

I've often wondered...

The 1907 pattern (Wilkinson/Sanderson) bayonet, with its 17" blade must have been an awfully frightening weapon to be on the receiving end of.

Suppose you were charging down a German trench and actually made "contact", the blade would have gone right through him.

Maybe even stuck into the wooden boards that fortify the trench walls. You'd have needed to put you foot on his chest to have pulled it out. :o

Doesn't bear thinking about.

Mark.

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Desmond7

Lads - I note that Prof Holmes has an introduction piece in 'Tommy' which features among others a 'Private Desmond' - who is the clumsy clot of the section!

Since I am sure loads of Private Desmonds existed in reality, I wonder how many accidental bayonet wounds were inflicted by 'comrades on comrades'?

And on the Holmes note .. I was also somewhat startled to find the same section contained a character called 'Wills' and another called Lt. Baker .....

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T8HANTS

My Uncle Albert had a huge scar across his left hand, and after years of my thoughtless pestering he eventually told me the story.

Serving with the Isle of Wight Rifles at Suvla he was advacing forward, when a Turk slightly up hill from him levelled his rifle at a range of about ten yards and fired. Click nothing! for a second he starts struggeling with his bolt, and by now Uncle A is in a full blown bayonet charge as taught, blood curdely yell and all. Outright terror adding imputus to the charge , the Turk frantic, static, attempts to pary the charge, but is only slightly successful. His bayonet skitters under Uncle A's rifle (a Long Lee-Enfield, with short bayonet), and ploughs into his left hand, Uncle A's momentum gives him advantage and he thrusts good and clean into the Turks throat. Albert now collapses for a moment, but as he regains himself he clears the Turks rifle and pockets the bullet. perhaps thinking if he had the bullet that had his name on it, he would be safe, and indeed he was never wounded again.

That incident left deep traumatic scars from which he never really recovered. A Christian man, telling me the story reduced him to floods of tears, which being young at the time I did not understand. Now I feel ashamed that I put him through that experience again and again every time I asked about the scar on his hand.

When he died, I inherited the bullet (now deactivated), so I hope he forgave me. All I know is, of all the things he experienced and witnessed, the use of the bayonet and the death of that Turk at the end of his rifle troubled him the most.

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CROONAERT
You'd have needed to put you foot on his chest to have pulled it out. :o

...as was the drill! (either that or pull the trigger and fire a round in the hope that the kick of the rifle will free it). For this reason it was recommended not to aim for the chest - the bayonet could get stuck in the ribs - unless you're using a cruciform lebel bayonet that is)

Dave.

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CROONAERT
Since I am sure loads of Private Desmonds existed in reality, I wonder how many accidental bayonet wounds were inflicted by 'comrades on comrades'?

..and by "comrades on themselves"!

We had one lad who fainted and impaled himself on his own bayonet in 1988. My dad has a similar story from 1950. Must have happened frighteningly regularly.

Dave.

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J T Gray

In the last five years someone got a bayonet slash to the back of their head at Newbury War Memorial on Armistice Sunday. They have a guard of honour from a local establishment, and they were kept holding their SA-80s with arms outstretched (don't know the technical term, but demonstrated by the chap telling me, who'd been stood a bit further back) for so long that when the comand came to shoulder (?) arms someone's arms had gone to sleep so when he tried to move them had no control. The rifle slipped forward and the bayonet took a lump out of the chap in front. Bet that took some explaining in casualty...

Adrian

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Desmond7

Thanks troops ... and especially to T8Hants for sharing the story with us.

Well worth seeing.

Des

To develop .... er .... has anyone been shot AND stabbed?

Is there a different sensation of pain? Is steel cold? Is lead hot?

Is being stabbed from close range drastically different from being shot from afar and not knowing that a piece of alien material is about to enter your bod?

Des The Bloodthirsty

(Seriously)

My own experience? In the old days of newspaper production, compositors (they were called many names) operated on paste-up days with scalpels. One incredibly dozey individual was famous for his accident prone nature. He managed to leave me with seven stitches across my hand when I pointed out something to him.

He assured me it was an accident.

Those who work in the newspaper/printing business will inevitably claim that I broke rules by touching the comp's page. I refute this utterly, I was pointing with my union approved blue pencil when the tube sliced me. He was just a clampit.

Anyway, it was a small wound but my memory of the split second was merely feeling a 'sharp burning sensation'.

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Muerrisch
so few instances where the bayonet would have been used (as compared to previous wars). Something to the effect of less than 5% of all wounds were bayonet inflicted.

Historically, bayonet charges were very rarely met with the bayonet: one charged when one had begun to win the firefight, or when one had utterly lost it. In the first case the enemy very rarely debated the point. In the second, you might get lucky ...........

Either way, the bayonet is psywar, and it works.

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squirrel

This is just an aside, but, with all the things a bayonet was supposedly used for; chopping or cutting firewood, getting mud off clothes, opening tins, stuck in the side of a trench or dugout to hang things on etc. etc., how sharp or useful would it have been when it came to using it in the manner intended?

Or are we to believe that despite all these other alleged uses the point was always sharp?

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BeppoSapone

The only man I ever knew who admitted being involved in a bayonet charge was not actually stabbed.

The German hit him in the face with the other end of his rifle!

This was in Greece in 1941. The man woke up as a POW. :(

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Annette Burgoyne
I wonder how many accidental bayonet wounds were inflicted by 'comrades on comrades'?

This is from the unpublished writings of a K.S.L.I. Terrier, L/Cpl. William Hall.

While attending the funeral of an Aussie soldier at Neath, South Wales (he was part of guard of Honour), they were shown an X-ray of a soldier's back & ribs, with a bayonet nearly seventeen inches long between the skin and bones.

He writes

it had entered at the base of his back as he had fallen backwards on to his comrade's bayonet as he climbed out of the trench to attack. It was the long bayonet used by the British, and quite easy to recognise. He was about to be discharged (from hospital I think) but reported a scraping sensation near his shoulder-blade: hence the X-ray and removal of the bayoney. The same was reported in the "South Wales Echo" after we left

What puzzles me is how did they miss the fact that the bayonet was lodged in this chaps back, he would have had to have passed through, the Regt. Aid Post, then a C.C.S. then travelled back to UK, then was about to be discharged from the hospital ? :blink:

Annette

PS As anyone got access to old copies of "South Wales Echo" to see if paper gives more info. about this story. It took place some time during mid to late 1916.

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chrislock

Not sure if I am correct, but their was horrific close quarter fighting byt the Scots Guard Regiment on Mount Longdon, Falkland Islands! I have a magazine article somewhere that stated several Argentine defenders were ran through with the bayonet! A subaltern even snapped off his bayonet whilst carrying out this action. Any vets about? Ref gunshot wounds, it all depends on calibre, range and where and how it hits you! I have seen small high velocity rounds enter/exit with hardly any marks at all. Large slower calibre rounds can make dreadfull wounds, richochets can tumble a bullet and really ****** you up! I have spoke to a soldier who only found out he had been shot, when he took his flak jacket off, quite painless he said! Some scream like hell, most are very quiet and shocked, the bayonet? Not a way I would like to go! Eyeball to eyeball stuff! No wonder run or hands up! :o

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Desmond7

Annette - one word - jeez!! Pretty much skewered.

Re - The Falklands. Somewhere in the mists of time on this forum, I keyed in a fair whack of the SG's war diary for the Falklands. And you're right there was close quarter bayonet fighting during the assault on Tumbledown!

Cheers folks.

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CROONAERT
Not sure if I am correct, but their was horrific close quarter fighting byt the Scots Guard Regiment on Mount Longdon, Falkland Islands!

Mount Longdon was a III Para battle, Chris. As Des has pointed out, the Scots Guards were at Tumbledown.

Longdon was also fought at close range and was the bloodiest "battle within a battle" of the Falklands campaign.

dave.

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Guest sapper6

My Grandad who was in WW1 hardly spoke about his experiences but my Father who was in WW2 told me several things. When the Kiwis were in Crete he said they bayoneted as many bodies as possible as the German paras would pretend to be dead and after you had moved past would shoot you in the back. He said that many "dead bodies" came to life on seeing a bayonet coming at them and begged surrender but were bayoneted any way as it saved ammo.

Also at Minqar Qaim the New Zealand Division was surrounded by the Germans but broke out by an aggresive attack using the bayonet on any German who was on the ground as they had learnt their lesson in Crete.

The Germans called them Freyburgs Butchers but as Dad said the Germans were still playing dead and shooting from behind there.

He also said that the golden rule when using a bayonet was to have a round up the spout as the bayonets often became stuck and you needed to fire the rifle to blast the bayonet free.

I always remember his words about the use of the bayonet as I have his memoirs on tape. He says " its not personal, its just kill the ****** thats trying to kill you and if he is screaming as most do on the wrong end of a bayonet, another dead German shortens the war so I can get back to New Zealand."

Remember that the New Zealanders all had the Mk1 SMLE with the long bayonet.

He never had any regrets about killing the Germans by any means. As he said , "Who started the war and took me away from my wife and family."

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Hambo

I read a quote somewhere which went something like "Rarely was a man killed with a bayonet who did not already have his hands up" Don't know if this is true but it's pretty chilling all the same.

Hambo

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Guest Simon Bull
Try Louisville Kentucky in 1977. I damn near died from loss of blood but it was not painful. They stabbed 3 of us after we got them kicked out of a Waylon Jennings concert. Both got 20 years.

Paul

What a dramatic life you have led - and you a member of the American Bar.

Do tell us more.

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John_Hartley
They stabbed 3 of us after we got them kicked out of a Waylon Jennings concert.

I take it they were Willie Nelson fans, then ?

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paul guthrie

Glad you asked John. Several weeks had passed w/o arrests when I saw David Allen Coe was playing at the same venue. I called the detective working the case that they would likely be there. They were , with the same girl wearing the same clothes. Arrests made.

In the operating room the physician just before he knocked me out says, Lawyer are you? Yes says I. Do any medical malpractice cases? " Not any more Doc! says I. :lol:

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Edward_N_Kelly

Well - not directly related to the Great War but I was an NCO supervising some "battle drills" in the Army of Oz. One included the bayonet pracise "runs" - strung up sandbag followed by the one on the ground. There were 8 or so lanes and about 100 personnel involved.

(Actually I was the medic for exercise, so I stocked up on bandages and lint, I could see where this was going.....)

Picture it in your mind (not hard - it is a classic "war movie" scene). Run at the sandbag screaming - beat it about with the butt, stick it in, withdraw, run forward (still screaming) stick it bags on the ground, use fott to held dislodge it run onto to finish.

You can stop here if you can see where there is going.....

Well after three people put their foot down to withdraw the bayonet before they had inserted the bayonet into the sandbag ...

I was a busy boy for a while. Learnt a lot about treting stab wounds real quick (it is never like the lectures - you don't get real time to think particularly when the three did it practically simultaneously).

Cheers

Edward

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Edward_N_Kelly

Another item came to mind....

I worked with a fellow for a while who was ex-WW2. He had been at Buna and sent forward as a CPL (he was an acting PL commander at that time - casualties were severe) with one other to do a recce on the Japanese positions to assist in an attack next day. He was accompanied by one other.

They actually missed the front row of bunkers and had penetrated to the supports (think swamp and dense secondary jungle) when they ran into their opposite number perhaps doing a round of his positions. The Japanese Officer/WO was carrying an unsheathed sword for some reason and cut my friend through the left shoulder bone and down several ribs (severed all bone, sinew and muscle but missed major blood vessels but got a lot of the minor ones, punctured the chest cavity, etc). He was down. The mate shot the Japanese but was in turn shot and wounded from a nearby bunker.

Well, my friend was lucky - he rolled into some tree roots from the blow and was missed when the area was searched by the Japanese but unconscious. His mate managed to get away though wounded. He was awoken by the artillery for the attack next day just in time to get a shell fragment to the "tin hat" that gave him a depressed fracture of the skull!

He next came to in the Field Ambulance before being flown back to Moresby and eventually Australia (and demob after a year of treatment).

He carried is shoulder/arm in a "cocked" position - and was unable to grasp or hold anything in that hand with any force.

Of his experience - the least problem was the actual fight. It was over too quick to feel anything but the pain afterwards.......

(I read his medical documents - I had to assess his disability pension while we both worked at the Oz Department of Veterans' Affairs).

Edward

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Tom Morgan

sorry for coming into this so late. The bayonet is an unusual weapon in that it can be successful without wounding an enemy at all. Just threatening to use it can be as effective as using it. A group of soldiers faced with a large, determined bayonet charge were guite likely to run away if they could or surrender if they couldn't, rather than make a fight of it.

We have to be careful too, about the reports that only about 5% of all wounds were bayonet wounds as mentioned by Andy when recalling his college days. No-one knows how many bayonet wounds were inflicted. We only know how many bayonet wounds were recorded by the medical services. To be counted, a soldier had to survive the wound and get to an aid-post. I wouldn't mind betting that very few men arrived at aid posts having had their skulls bashed in by rifle-butts. But this doesn't mean that not many soldiers used their rifles in this way. It's just that that particular wound would usually have been immediately fatal.

Maybe the majority of bayonet wounds were immediately fatal, too. We just don't know. Add to this the suggestion in my first paragraph and you might agree that the low number of recorded bayonet wounds doesn't necessarily mean that bayonets were rarely used.

Tom

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