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"Who knows?" bayonet tale


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Sorta relic-condition 1903 pattern SMLE bayonet, battlefield pickup?.


The person I got it from saying a relative (grand uncle?) picked it up "during the war" & brought it home.


*Which* war? American bringback from the trenches of WW1? Something scooped up during WW2?


Just another frustration of hearing that half-remembered tale. "Cool story, bro".


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Only one marking visible.

2eblKI9.jpg

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The "Crown over 2P" is a 2nd Proofing acceptance mark by the British War Department.

 

The "X" to the right of the "Crown over 2P" is the initial proof mark indicating the side to which the bayonet was deflected for proofing.

 

Since it is a P1902, somewhere, there was another "Crown over GR" indicating the reigning monarch at the time of acceptance - King George VI as Queen Victoria dies in 1901. There should also be a date on one of the ricassos under all that corrosion somewhere.

 

It could have been used in either WW1 or WW2 as the British army pulled out everything they had in their arsenals left over from WW1 when WW2 started up. And the British lost a lot of equipment as they pulled back to Dunkirk and a lot was left lying around abandoned during the Dunkirk withdrawal.

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The wood handle is in too good a shape to have been buried that long. The wood would have rotted off within 2 to 5 years.

 

More likely, if it was a WW1-era "misplaced" bayonet, it probably hung on a barn or shed wall in a relatively damp environment, like near a coast or swampy area until it was "liberated".

 

It could have been a buried relic for only a couple of years before being found if it had been used and lost during the early stages of WW2 and then found after a year or so of exposure to the elements.

 

Unfortunately, all we have is speculation on everyone's part.

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Given the age of person selling it, I got the feeling their veteran was WW1 era. Furthermore, it does have the same patina as 'barn find' weapons.

 

Being limited to Speculation - that's what this thread is about, in the vacuum of hard information.

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Do you some archaeological basis for this?

 

There are SO many factors that influence the structural survival of different materials, I do not think you can make a sweeping proclamation like that - at least not a credible one,

 

Soil density, temperature, hydration, pH, object depth, and so forth.

 

If they can unearth 1000-year-old wooden Viking ships intact, I do not think it is impossible for wooden bayonet handles to survive 30 years.

 

Sorry, not nit-picking, just interested in any facts in support of such a claim.

 

Thanks.

 

 

 

The wood handle is in too good a shape to have been buried that long. The wood would have rotted off within 2 to 5 years.

 

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Nice find !

In Memory of Air Corps Technical Sergeant Carl F. Durfee. He died of wounds on 30 December 1944 while serving in the South Pacific. You are not forgotten.

ASMIC member

American Legion member

US Air Force & Air National Guard TAC - MAC

JOHN N. DANIELS ---152nd COMPANY C New York State Infantry--- captured 1864 survivor of Andersonville ---- Great-Great-Great Uncle

Captain Robert L. Hosler, 522nd Fighter/Bomber Sq. 12th Army Air Corp. World War Two P47 Pilot - 1 DFC- 5 Air Medal & 0ne Purple Heart---Uncle

1st Sgt Ann Barry, US Army Air Corp WAC World War Two --ETO --- Aunt

Sgt Willam M. Barry, USMC----Pacific World War Two--Father





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Do you some archaeological basis for this?

 

There are SO many factors that influence the structural survival of different materials, I do not think you can make a sweeping proclamation like that - at least not a credible one,

 

Soil density, temperature, hydration, pH, object depth, and so forth.

 

If they can unearth 1000-year-old wooden Viking ships intact, I do not think it is impossible for wooden bayonet handles to survive 30 years.

 

Sorry, not nit-picking, just interested in any facts in support of such a claim.

 

Thanks.

 

 

 

 

Archaeologial basis - Personal experience of finding tools accidentally left out in the weather "X" years ago by people, myself included. I have found wood handled tools accidentally left exposed to the elements and seen what happens to them.

 

Sorry about the long-winded diatribe to follow, but some basic background info needs to be considered.

 

 

Some tools I have found were left lying on ground and overlooked during cleanup evolutions, fell off or bounced off vehicles or left exposed in some other mishap.

 

After a relatively short time, wood handles left to the wet/dry cycle of exposure results in deteriorated handles. In a dry environment, the wood eventually dries out and cracks begin to form. I have several tools with 60 to 80 year old handles that look great but would splinter and crack quickly if used.

 

In wet environments, such as under piles of leaves, shallowly buried in dirt that cycles between wet and dry, the wood starts to rot into a soft, pithy texture, has rotten holes, etc, especially ash and hickory handles.

 

Tropical and semi-tropical hardwoods, such as mahogany, cocobola, ebony, mesquite and temperate/cool climate hardwoods, such as oak and walnut will last longer.

 

Typical tool handle materials, e.g., hickory and ash, etc, while they are hard woods and are strong/flexible, have only slight to non-existent resistance to deterioration and will readily rot in exposed/wet conditions in just a couple of years. (Source - The Wood Handbook, Chapter 14).

 

Will wood objects last for years and years and years, as in the Viking ship you mention? Yes. BUT>>>>> those types of items were usually constructed of woods with high deterioration resistance. They are nearly always completely buried in mud without any significant O2 exposure to accelerate rotting. Even then, there is evidence of rotting. 1700s and 1800s ship hulls exposed along the Gulf coast by hurricanes and tropical storms are mostly the larger hull ribs and not the thinner planking.

 

A wood handle tool left in the wilds begins to deteriorate as soon as it is left out. The longer it is left exposed, the more deterioration that occurs. The wood handle in the pictures does not appear to have any rotting what so ever. The blade is rusted to hell, but the handle still looks pretty good.

 

 

Based on some of the old swords and knives I have found in similar condition (corroded blade, decent handle) that have been kept in a shed/barn/attic/cellar with no maintenance, just left hanging on a hook in the scabbard/sheath - I'd say this bayonet was left in the scabbard in high humidity environment, but inside out of direct elements exposure.

 

Assuming that a WW1 bayonet lost in France even as late as 1919 during Treaty of Versailles negotiations was buried, either deliberately or by accident, it most likely would have been buried less than a couple of feet down. It could have been buried deeper if it was at the bottom of a shell hole, but then relic recovery would have been less likely. The various early 1900s British bayonets typically had wood grips made of walnut. Walnut has a deterioration resistance similar to that of white oak and mesquite. The bayonet grips were also usually kept oiled, so they would lst longer than untreated wood.

 

So at a foot or so, the soil would have been drying out and getting wet at regular intervals with aerated water, so O2 would have been present to encourage rotting. Even having a coating of oil to aid preservation, I would expect 10 to 15 years max with the woods used for bayonet handles before they rotted out in those conditions.

 

Just my opinion on the situation based on personal experience.

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Additional evidence to further the discussion.

 

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To my layman's eye, the wood has the same sort of wear that many of my quasi-vintage (50-60 year old) yard tools have - which I would attribute to being left out in the rain/elements (or 'barn find patina'). Plucked from some abandoned trench bunker? *Shrug*

 

nb; anyone else with similar mysteries, feel free to add to this thread.

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