At the start of the First World War the Canadian Expeditionary Force was armed with an indigenously produced rifle, the Ross. This rifle was to be problematic and was eventually dropped in favour of the SMLE, however it remained in use for snipers and saw further service in WW2 with the British Home Guard. As with nearly all military rifles in service at the time it was supplied with a bayonet and tonight we are looking at the second model of bayonet issued for the rifle:This bayonet is particularly attractive, with a definite weight to it, it has a much shorter blade than that used on the SMLE, but the blade is thicker in cross section and feels sturdier:This shorter length made it a popular choice for a trench knife due to its handiness in the trenches of the First World War during raids and examples were modified by removing the muzzle ring and shortening them even more to tailor them for this use. The pommel on the bayonet is marked ‘Ross Rifle Company, Quebec’ on one side:And has a number of marks on the opposite side including a /|\ within a ‘C’ Canadian acceptance mark, the date 08/16 (August 1916) and a ‘11’ indicating this is a MkII pattern bayonet first introduced in 1911:The Mk II differed from the earlier pattern which had an extended muzzle ring and a larger quinion , this was changed in the second pattern which provided the right sized muzzle ring and slimmed down the quinion:The bayonet was fitted to a ‘T’ shaped lug on the underside of the rifle’s barrel, with a channel provided for this to slide into. Sadly this bayonet is missing the sprung catch that would have allowed the bayonet to be secured, and removed from the rifle:Here we have a fine study of a young Canadian soldier in Canada holding his Ross rifle, complete with the bayonet attached:A generation later and we see the bayonet in use by the Home Guard in Britain, training with their Ross rifles:I have a number of bayonets in my collection now, and this one is competing with my No7 for the title of my favourite. It is a really nice piece to hold in your hand and beautifully made…now I just need a Ross to go with it!
When the Self Loading Rifle (SLR) was introduced the British Army naturally introduced a bayonet to go with their new rifle. They seem to have been very happy with the clipped bowie shaped blade they had used with the No5 Bayonet, No 7 Bayonet (see here) and the No 9 Bayonet (see here) and mated this to a new crosspiece and pommel to fit the SLR:The bayonet is 305mm long, with a 203mm long blade and due to the blade shape continued to use the same scabbard introduced for the earlier bayonets. This example is an L1A3, introduced in the late-1950s, which made the protruding press stud used to release the bayonet flush with the rest of the pommel:A long deep fuller runs down each side of the blade, this allows a vacuum to be released when the blade has been stabbed into the torso of a man and thus allows the bayonet to be withdrawn more easily:This particular bayonet also has the modifications introduced into production from the mid-1960s onwards when the length of the fuller was reduced and the ricasso lengthened due to a perceived weakness in the design at this point:Originally the fuller ran almost the entire length of the blade, this feature was deleted on the L1A4 bayonet introduced in the 1970s which reverted to a full length fuller. The cross piece has a large ring, 14.9mm in diameter, to fit over the muzzle of the rifle:The grips of the bayonet are made of a hard black plastic, secured with two rivets:The combined ‘ED’ trademark of the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield can just be made out stamped on the plastic grips. Like all British bayonets of the post war period, this blade is of very high quality and finish. The bayonet was to see extensive use in The Falklands War, as witnessed by this visceral account by Guards Lieutenant Robert Lawrence MC:
I stuck my bayonet into the back of his arm, dug it right in because I had run out of ammunition. He spun wildly on the ground and my bayonet snapped. And as he spun, he was trying to get a Colt 45 out of an Army holster on his waist. So I had to stab him to death. I stabbed him and I stabbed him, again and again, in the mouth, in the face, in the guts, with a snapped bayonet. It was absolutely horrific [retrospectively — at the time he recalls crying out ‘Isn’t this fun?’ not long after this incident]. Stabbing a man to death is not a clean way to kill somebody, and what made it doubly horrific was that at one point he started screaming ‘Please. . .‘ in English to me. But if I had left him he could have ended up shooting me in the back. I took his rifle, moved on, shot a sniper, picked up his and moved on again.