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North African Theater Made Knuckle Knife


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#1 capajo02

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 08:39 PM

I apologize in advance for the lack of photos. I may be able to put some up soon...

I recently purchased a WWII knuckle knife from Larry Thomas - the owner/curator of the American Military Edged Weaponry Museum in Intercourse, PA. I was immediately drawn to it because it was a knuckle knife in the style of a 1918 Mk. I, and it also has die stampings on both sides of the handle. Since I cannot post a photo today, I'll provide an explanation/breakdown of the knife.

CONSTRUCTION: The aluminum handle is clearly cast from a mold made from a 1918 Mk. I. (Possibly an L.F. & C.) The original shape including the "flange" or flared handguard is also included. The shape of the "skull-crusher" has also been retained, but the blade is permanently fixed in the handle. The blade is hand finished and, therefore, not completely even. It mimics the general shape of a Mk. I blade, but it is slightly narrower.

MARKINGS: The die stampings on the handle are crude and very uneven. The right side of the knife reads "TED. SEZLUNG (next line) CASABLANCA . NOV 8. 1942 (next line) ORAN - ALGIERS." (There are a few errors and over-stampings.) The other side reads "TUNISIE ' BIZERTE ' TOMG (next line) GERMAN MESSERSCHIDT" (Yes, Messerschidt... not Messerschmitt).

Can anyone make anything out of these markings? The place names and date are obvious. I don't know if "TED SEZLUNG" is supposed to be a name or not. (I cannot even find anyone named Sezlung today.) I also do not know what "TOMG" could mean. I'm guessing that the knife is made out of the remains of a Messerschmitt.

Mr. Thomas also assured me that this is one of the few knives of this type he has seen in 60 years of collecting. He had no doubt of its authenticity. He also has an original example in his museum which he showed to me. This museum knife was of the same construction, marked with the same type of die set, and the markings were also very erratic like those on my knife. His knife, however, has a clear name and a serial number.

Sorry for the long post with no photo. I will try to upload one soon. If anyone has any ideas where I could even begin to research this knife, please let me know.

Thanks,
John C.

#2 capajo02

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:00 AM

As promised... Here are photos of the knife. Enjoy... and please help me if you can. I'm more than willing to do my own research, but I don't think anything even exists in the Cole books about this one...

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#3 capajo02

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:03 AM

Photo 2

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#4 capajo02

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:06 AM

Photo 3

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#5 capajo02

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:08 AM

Photo 4

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#6 capajo02

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:10 AM

Photo 5

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#7 capajo02

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:11 AM

Last photo...

Thanks,
John C.

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#8 doyler

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:25 AM

Just a guess but The refferance to the german plane may be where the metal was gained for the handle??Melted down and cast into a knife handle.Sorry I cant help with the name at the moment.

RD

Edit:Didnt see him on the WW2 registry.Maybe some members have rosters for the !st Ranger Bn,1st Inf Div etc for the major units who went to North Africa??

Edited by doyler, 05 September 2010 - 08:30 AM.


#9 capajo02

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:55 AM

Ron,

Based on my preliminary research, I'd guess that this knife could have belonged to a soldier in one of the 9th Infantry Division's regiments. Elements of the 9th ID were one of the few - if not the only - units that could have been in all of the places listed on the knife. An element of the 9th ID landed near Casablanca. 9th ID troops were the first US soldiers in Bizerte, and also they were - at some point - near Oran at Ain-el-Turck.

That's just some more info I've found. Any other ideas and theories are welcome. When it comes to stuff like this, more heads are better than one.

-John

#10 shocktrooper15

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 08:55 AM

Love it! Nice score :thumbsup:

This soldier could also have been in the 509th Parachute Infantry Batallion. They jumped into Oran on November 8th, 1942 as part of Operation Torch (JUST LIKE IT SAYS ON THE KNIFE!). Plus, 1918 MkI knives were issued to this unit. I doubt the fact he was part of the 9th infantry division because these knives were not issued to regular infantry.

See attached Picture. This 509th trooper is carrying one on his right side.

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Edited by shocktrooper15, 05 September 2010 - 09:03 AM.


#11 gunbarrel

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 11:14 AM

This soldier could also have been in the 509th Parachute Infantry Batallion. They jumped into Oran on November 8th, 1942 as part of Operation Torch (JUST LIKE IT SAYS ON THE KNIFE!). Plus, 1918 MkI knives were issued to this unit. I doubt the fact he was part of the 9th infantry division because these knives were not issued to regular infantry.

See attached Picture. This 509th trooper is carrying one on his right side.


Let's remember, though, that John's knife is not an issue M1918 Mark 1; it's a theater knife.

#12 shocktrooper15

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 12:25 PM

Let's remember, though, that John's knife is not an issue M1918 Mark 1; it's a theater knife.


Very true, however that handle looks just like a chromed L.F&C handle.

#13 gunbarrel

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 01:21 PM

Very true, however that handle looks just like a chromed L.F&C handle.

No, it's aluminum.

CONSTRUCTION: The aluminum handle is clearly cast from a mold made from a 1918 Mk. I. (Possibly an L.F. & C.)



#14 shocktrooper15

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 01:26 PM

No, it's aluminum.



Thank you for pointing that out. I missed that detail. :blushing: My apologies! However the fact that it has the date and place the 509th jumped intrigues me quite a bit.

#15 gunbarrel

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 02:51 PM

No apologies necessary, Shocktrooper; I just wanted to keep it on the right track. :thumbsup: Definitely agree with you that it is indeed a very intriguing and a very cool piece.

Edited by gunbarrel, 05 September 2010 - 02:52 PM.


#16 1944

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 05:09 PM

That is a very Rare M1918 Mk1 Knuckle Theatre Knife in aluminum i never saw one of those before untill now in ALUMINUM VERY RARE

that is one hell of a find you have got there for your collection very well done.. Nice Score To :thumbsup: .

#17 Still-A-Marine

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Posted 05 September 2010 - 07:00 PM

I hope we can find out more on this one. This is very interesting. Bill

#18 capajo02

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Posted 06 September 2010 - 07:49 AM

Thanks for all the compliments. I tend to stick by the fact that this could have been carried by any GI. While I am not saying that they were commonplace, there is plenty of photographic and other (i.e. Bill Mauldin's cartoons) evidence that supports the use of US Mk I and other 1918-style knuckle knives by all kinds of troops. Just this weekend, I saw (in person) an Aulion with a WWII-era handmade, leather scabbard, and I also saw a WWII-era re-bladed L.F. & C. handle with a large, clip-point bowie style blade.

Does anyone have any theories regarding "TED. SEZLUNG" and/or "TOMG"??? I've looked them up as names and places and have come up completely empty. SEZLUNG could be a last name, but I haven't even come up with anyone by that name in a google search.

Any ideas? Does anyone know where I could find/search unit rosters?

-John

Edited by capajo02, 06 September 2010 - 07:50 AM.


#19 mayralphie

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 10:03 AM

Hate to be a stick in the mud but this looks like a Parsons Vietnam era knife that someone dressed up to look like WW2 knife. The blade is definately a Parsons pattern and I know he made the handles in brass and aluminum. The handle also looks like a Japanese copy made in the 60's that has had the M1918 taken off. I posted a similer knife with a USMC blade that was sold to me as a WW2 knife and the Forum members felt it was a Vietnam era knife. It has the M1918 stamp still on the handle. The scabbard also looks alot like the ones that came with the Kiffe M45 knife sold in the 60's. It could still be a WW2 knife as I have seen alot of aluminum handle WW2 knives but the blade and the scabbard have me a little concerned.

#20 mayralphie

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 10:08 AM

http://img813.imageshack.us/g/032m.jpg/ Here is link to my knife

#21 capajo02

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 03:36 PM

The blade is hand-made... and the aluminum from which the handle is cast is clearly scrap. (You can tell from the impurities present in the handle.) I know that this is not a Parsons Knife. I happened to also look at three different Vietnam-era knife Parson's knives in Larry Thomas's collection shortly before I purchased this knife. The scabbard is probably not original to the knife. I am not sure, but the wear patterns do not match up, so I will readily admit that this is "iffy." I trust Mr. Thomas, and I think that he probably has more experience than many of us on this forum. I do not think he would knowingly sell me something that was misrepresented. Unless people have been cheated by him in the past - which I have never heard of, I tend to trust his judgment and 60 years of collecting experience. Also, every other knife he showed me was definitely original and he pointed out differences from Vietnam knuckle knives and WWII knives.

Also... Consider this: If you were going to fake a knife, why would you 1)Make the stamping incredibly erractic, misspelled, and, in some cases, over-stamped? 2)Stamp words on the handle which were not obvious? (i.e. If you were faking something why would you stamp "TED. SEZLUNG" and "TOMG" which make little or no sense to me, and apparently, most people who have looked at this post.) or 3) Not include an obvious name, place, or unit which would be incredibly desirable? (i.e. wouldn't a clearly marked 82nd AB knife from North Africa be more valuable?)

I value everyone's opinion, but I'm not a complete novice who could be fooled that easily. I'm far from an expert, but I've handled a fair amount of originals, and I tend to believe that this is from WWII. I also trust Mr. Thomas and have heard nothing negative about him.

-John

#22 capajo02

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 04:43 PM

I happened to also look at three different Vietnam-era knife Parson's knives in Larry Thomas's collection shortly before I purchased this knife.



I meant to type: "I happened to also look at three different Vietnam-era Parson's knives in Larry Thomas's collection shortly before I purchased this knife."

Sorry for the typo,
John

#23 bbmilitaria

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 09:18 AM

I'll put another pony in this race. I've had this knife for 20 years and it came in a M8 scabbard. The cast aluminum knuckle grip is nearly identical to the example displayed by capajo02. The blade appears to have been made from a file and is a close copy of the 1918 blade. Were the knuckles made by one individual and it was up to the final owner to make their own blades??

knuck1.jpg

knuck2.jpg

knuck3.jpg

knuck4.jpg

#24 bbmilitaria

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 09:20 AM

knuck5.jpg

knuck6.jpg

knuck7.jpg

#25 mayralphie

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 04:27 PM

I do not mean to imply that it is a fake. God knows there are alot of aluminum handle WW2 and Vietnam knives out there. When forum members thought mine was Vietnam I was happy as that is what I collect anyway. I just think alot more research needs to be done on these aluminum 1918 copies.


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