Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"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

Friday, January 26, 2007

Theater-made Theater Knives

The Seabees "The Bees of the Seven Seas" (My old folks, CBMU 302, Subic Bay, Naval Support Force Antarctica, WO '75), as pictured to the left, were responsible for much of the field expedient knives put together during the Second World War. The lower picture is from somewhere in the Pacific and shows the Bees' shop with the sign prominently displayed: "No Knives Made". Leads me to believe they may have been swamped - and had work of their own to complete, such as roofing the shop with sections of oil drums.
The next photo is of a group of guys swarming over the wreckage of a wrecked Japanese plane, looking for raw material. Knowing the wealth of "stuff" a plane contains, the materials ran heavily toward aluminum (a personal favorite), stainless steel and various plastics, primarily bakelite and plexiglas.

Actual knives: arrayed along the bottom from left to right are: A pair of knuckle knives, very nicely put together out of plastic, aluminum, steel and, in the case on one, brass. Knuckle knives were popular with this bunch with good reason. They instill imediate confidence in the most Caspar Milquetoast of soldiers - and they look cool. Tell me they don't.
To the right of that is a knuckle knife made by brazing a standard set of knucks onto the back strap of a shortened bayonet. These were popular for obvious reasons. They're basically an assembly project. Lots of guys brought knucks with them, or picked them up in Australia or elsewhere. Then it would be a simple matter to have someone in the motor pool to stick them together for you. Go here for a picture of a couple of grunts who've just opened their chow with one and stuck it into the sandbags within easy reach.
Further on the subject of the "I've got a bayonet, and I know someone in the motor pool..." situation we see, to the left again, a bayonet with a knuckle bow welded out of chain. Another popular configuration.
I'll close with a really weird one, which may have been made aboard ship. Cast aluminum handle and a blade ground from a power hack saw blade. Note the "Starrett, High Speed" legend. It could also have been a piece of tool-steel stock as Starrett sells that even now. But, nice work on the arrangements of screw and rivets. No one makes knives that look like this.



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