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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Pattern 1888 Mole bayonet


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Hi All,

I have just acquired a good Mole P1888, which almost never come up for sale in South Africa. The blade looks almost factory condition, other than for some age blemishes. The markings on the ricasso are crisp and clear, and I speculate that the bayonet has spent it's life in the scabbard. So while no interesting history or use, it is in great shape. The cross-guard, up to the pommel are blemished from storage, but no pitting is evident. The quality of the manufacture is quite astounding. I've attached photo's of the piece.

I have two questions:

1. Are there records of production numbers for Mole, compared to production by Enfield, Wilkinson and Sanderson, and

2. The pommel has 20.M.R stamped on it. Is this likely to be a rack/inventory number, or may it refer to a specific unit? Note that the bayonet also has a Union acceptance mark.

Any advice, suggestions or theories will be most welcome.

Many thanks.

Mike Loverock








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Hello Mike,

Welcome to the Forum!

You have a Patt. 1888 bayonet of the MK II variety.

As you say, in excellent overall condition so probably was never issued (or at least fixed in anger).

Robert Mole & Sons (later swallowed up by Wilkinson Sword Co) was located in Birmingham, which is reflected in the Coronet / B(irmingham) / 35 inspection stamps applied by inspectors sent up from RSAF, Enfield.

Lack of additional date stamps and inspection stamps indicate that the bayonet was not re-inspected.

Brit. & Comm. Bayonets by Skennerton & Richardson does not appear to give production numbers, but there is a monograph on the Patt. 1888 (12 Inches of Imperial Steel by Michael Rose) which may have the info.

Rifle / Rack numbers typically are only numerals, so I suspect that 20 M. R. refers to an unknown (to me) unit in S.A.

Have always thought the Patt 1888 to be an elegant piece of industrial design---one of my two favorite bayos, the other being the Swedish M 1896.




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4 minutes ago, JMB1943 said:

Rifle / Rack numbers typically are only numerals, so I suspect that 20 M. R. refers to an unknown (to me) unit in S.A.


In the South African context I think MR often refers to "Mounted Rifles"

I think I recall the 20th Mounted Rifles being a unit that was active in SW Africa in 1914-15


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20th Mounted Rifles are mentioned in this link https://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/southafricanforces.htm under "Mounted Rifle Regiments of the South African Active Citizen Force" as 20th Mounted Rifles  (Graaf Reinet Ruiters)

From the link http://www.kaiserscross.com/40117/home.html "World War One in Africa" by Harry Fecitt there is the  wording "One of the most important documents I found in a trip to the South African Defence Force Archives was an Order Of Battle compiled in 1915". Click on the Order of Battle to the page "The Rebellion and GSWA" http://www.kaiserscross.com/40117/40726.html  where there are two lines under Mounted Rifles  "20th M.R. Graaff-Reinet Ruiters G.S.W.A. Mil.Dist.No.15 1st Portion of Regt at Upington Reserve about 10.3.15 to Upington"


Edited by MaureenE
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Hi JMB, Chris and Maureen,

Many thanks for your prompt responses.

I wondered if the MR could be mounted rifles, and the additional info is most useful, so will research that a bit.

I know that Mole and Vickers had the lowest production with the P1907's, and I have not seen one come up here in the past 10 years plus, so unfortunately don't have one in my collection. My sense was also, based on the relative scarcity in this this part of the world, that the same applied to the P1888 by Mole, of any Mark. The P1888 MK 1 (2nd-type) are relatively common here, but this was the first Mole I've seen that was decent quality, and with possibly it's original scabbard.

JMB, I'll see if I can find the Michael Rose book and check the info available.

Many thanks again,


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