Monday, 11 August 2014

British Military Infantry Swords

The Infantryman has been equipped with the British military sword since the time immemorial. Both the Greeks and Romans achieved great skills in the use of such weapons but Spaniards in the 17th century first introduced the art of swordsmanship and the use of the point where previously there had been single or double edged weapons specially used for cutting purposes only.

In latter part of the 18th century, nearly all officers including Scottish regiments carried the sword and it was the most standard sword for British Army.

In 1803, a general order dated 18th March introduced a nearly new sword for Infantry Officers. It had a lion pommel and back-piece with knuckle-bow carried the royal cipher. The blade was curved and sometimes they were deeply curved and appeared as if it would be impossible to fight with them whereas others were slightly curved.

In 1822, all regiments of foot were given a new sword and in 1831 the blade was narrowed to 1 inch wide at the hilt. In 1834 field officers adopted brass scabbards for the sword. In 1846 the ramrod went back out and was replaced by the blade known as Wilkinson blade, which had a flat back and an even taper from the cutting edge.

The next military sword for Infantry officers came in 1892 and had sheet-steel guard patterned with scrolls and containing the royal cipher on the front.

Infantry Officer’s Sword 1822 Pattern: -


This was so called “Gothic” hilt to the British Army and was slightly smaller than the fighting sword. The hilt is of fire-gilt brass, the grip of fish-skin bound with three gilt wires. Overall the sword is 36 inches and the blade is 31 inches from shoulder to point, is slightly curved with the weight equal to 1 ½ lb and embossed with the royal cipher of King George IV.

Infantry Officer’s Sword 1895 Pattern: -


In 1895 the inner edge of this guard was lapped down to prevent chafing the uniform. The sword is 39 inches overall and the blade is 32 ½ inches from shoulder to point. It was carried in steel scabbard with the weight approx to 1lb.

Hilt-Queen Victoria’s Rifles: -


It is now the 9th London Regiment, adopted between 1900 and 1939 to the rifle regiment sword. It was exactly same design as Rifle Regiment hilt and as a regimental pattern; this sword was never made in large numbers so it is rare one.

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers Sword 1895 Pattern: -


This is as standard infantry sword with the addition of a silver grenade bearing St. George and the Dragon and the Roman letter V pinned to the hilt. This regimental sword was adopted by custom and also differs from regulation.

Stirrup-Hilted Scimitar Circa 1803: -

There is no regulation for this sword. The stirrup hilt is of steel with a steel back piece and the grip is of chequered ivory. The sword measures 37 inches with the weight of the sword equal to 1lb.

These infantry swords are famous and used by Infantry Officers. The history of the British Infantry Swords began with this official proclamation from King George III, replacing the antiquated spontoon or half-pike with the fighting sword that remains regulation issue to this day. 

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