1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.

1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.
A view through the wheel. The black, horizontal line is the axle, the single largest forging to that time.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Festive Trench Knife Season


Back again after another protracted absence. I guess that's part of getting old. Time moves more swiftly.
Well the merry holiday season approaches so purchasers of knuckle knives will soon begin coming out of the woodwork. I don't know why, but Civil War knives are popular in the summer while Christmas appeals to the WW1 and 2 blades.

I've been interested in knuckle knives for a long time. When I walking home from high school as a lad, I often stopped at an Army/Navy store. I bought a practice grenade once, solid cast iron. Another time, a pair of Mickey Mouse boots.
One time however the clerk showed me a wicked knife behind the counter. It had a nasty triangular blade about 8"long and a knuckle bow with pyramids embossed into it. It was a M1917/18 trench knife made by Landers, Frary and Clark. $12 it cost and I didn't have it, so I went my way. By the time I'd returned it was gone. The photo at top shows the identical knife. This was the US Army's first attempt at a trench weapon. Unlike the British who depended on commercially produced, private purchase knives such as the Clement's and the various, bizarre creations of Robbins of Dudley, the US, like the French, contracted for their manufacture. In addition to LF&C, they were made by Oneida Community Ltd, Henry Disston & Sons and the American Cutlery Co. The knuckle bow varied according to manufacturer, second photo. It was effective and cheap to produce but of limited usefulness for anything but killing. It's hard to open a can of corned willy with a triangular blade.
Enter the knife everyone thinks of when they hear "trench knife", the M1918 Mark I. I confess, I used to think this was the coolest knife I'd ever seen and it does have a lot going for it from a design standpoint. But now, having seen what the British were up to, it looks like a product of committee thinking. It was designed by a Major McNary and utilized a knuckle duster similar to the Clement's and the identical blade shape as the French M1916 trench dagger. It arrived too late in the war to have any effectiveness - in fact there is some debate as to whether any Mark Is even saw combat in the first war. WW2 was different. The US entered the war with only one issued knife, a parachutist's jump knife. They seem to keep forgetting that knives are necessary. I don't get it. I guess that's what happens when you put the smart people in charge. The McNary pattern was widely used in the second war and even up to Vietnam. it also provided the casting pattern and inspiration for some nice WW2 theater knives.
In closing, a WW2 photo showing a Mark I "in use". It would appear the corporal is having a bit of a discipline problem. What's worse, the private doesn't look worried.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, what would be the value of the 1917 ww1 knuckle duster trench knife with scabbard as shown in the photo at the top of this blog?

WWWJIMBO said...

$300 to 500 depending on condition.

Anonymous said...

I have an AU LION trench knife without the scabbard the blae has some rust on it how much would it be worth i have an offer for 250 should i take it?

Bob Brock said...

No, you can probably get far more.
http://www.snyderstreasures.com/pages/knuckle_knives.htm
Scroll about 3/4+ down.

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