Lot's of different pics of this sign.

Lot's of different pics of this sign.
"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

Monday, October 08, 2007

Cudgels, Coshes, Clubs and Knobkerries

Pictured above: A German trench club. As discussed earlier, here and here, the stalemate of the Great War forced weapons technology to devolve in some areas. Since the conditions demanded staying below ground and out-of-sight during daylight hours, silent (relatively) and close-in weapons had to be developed.
These were rarely considered as necessary, i.e. issued service-wide, until the Americans bit the bullet and developed the M1917/18 Trench Knife and the 1918 McNary Pattern Mk I. Some armies, the French, Germans and Austrians were issued daggers but prior to 1917 no one openly admitted that, as a matter of policy the lads should be given knives with built-in knuckle-dusters. The British high command, even though it was Empire troops that started raiding in Autumn of 1914, considered knives knuckle-dusters and such brutal and crude weapons "unsporting". Admittedly, being run through with a lance or having your skull split by a saber does seem marginally better than having your melon smacked from behind by an item such as that above... I guess. But what do I know? I'm not a "Red Tab".
As mentioned in the earlier post on French Nails, the shortage in knives was alleviated both by the products of the Royal Engineers, company farriers, motor pool personnel as well as home-front suppliers such as the innovative and pragmatic art metal firm, Robbins of Dudley.
The cosh wasn't really sophisticated enough to lend itself to home-front production although some undoubtedly were. Most were made on the individual or unit level and the one at top is typical of the type. Turned from oak around 17" long, this example is studded with what look like horseshoe nails to me (farriers remember). In descriptions they're always referred to as "hobnails" although those, designed to add traction and wear resistance to leather boot soles, tended to be rather more flower-shaped. See below, the equivalent as made by the Royal Engineers Workshops.
This is also made from different wood, being English probably beech.
Another contribution, courtesy of the RE, 2nd Army Workshops, was a flanged, cast-iron head, sized to fit on the haft of the standard, Brit E-tool. These were made by the thousands. In one week in March, 1918 the Hazebrouck Workshops alone produced 3,294.
Below, second from the left one is pictured mounted on the haft. On the subject of this photo, at the far right you'll see a British "Mills Bomb" which as pictured next provided a nice casting for the trench-made clubs.Grenades provided an excellent ready-made head. This next German example appears to use the casing of a rifle grenade. Notice the bill. An overwhelming characteristic of these thing is their size, most were 14" or less. A trench could measure only a few feet wide hence limiting one's swing.

Speaking of small; another manufactured British club. "Patent Applied For"


Others dispensed with the metal entirely and depended on the bulk of the wood to carry the weight. This rather maraca shaped type was made and used both by Britain and Germany.

The penultimate, a pair of theater made, all-metal cudgels. The first, German, a 19"long hooked steel bar, covered in leather. Next, another creative use of a barbed-wire picket, photographed in situ, in the Ypres Salient.

Finally, two of the "spiky ones". Personally, I doubt this type would be used more than once which may account for the wonderful condition of the first, Austrian example. The problem with the spikes would be that they'd tend to stick wherever they hit, quickly putting one in a very awkward "Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby" situation made worse by the wrist lanyard.
The final picture is, I believe a fantasy. But boy, it does look bitchin'.

Obviously I should never be trusted when I say I'm done. I found these two pics that hadn't found a home. First a very well-crafted all wood, lead-weighted German club, love those turks-head knots. Then, another, far less elegant, with a different cast-iron head.


Kevin said...

Very interesting entry as always! (Sucking noises)
As far as I know, you may be the only blog around providing details on that aspect of WWI, this blog definitively is more than a vanity blog or an ad for your "mercenary website", it's a very worth reading stop for anyone who has some interest in this muddy bloodbath. Excellent!
Can you feel the love?

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

Kevin, Are you hitting on me?
I feel the love. Boy,howdy do I feel it.
Thanks, ya' hapless French guy.

Andy Sparrow said...

Glad you're posting again. Love the EK and get plenty of compliments on it, hope it brings in business.
One of my favorite characters of the WWI period is R. Meinertzhagen, fought on the other fronts, but you want knobkerry fu read his memoirs or Capstick's nutshell biography.
Oh yeah, Sten post was great. Keep up the good work.

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