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Camillus Mark 1 with "rare" guard markings


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Hello: New guy here. Glad to finally be accepted by USMF. I appreciate the opportunity to engage with you fine people.
I bought my first WW2 Camillus USN Mark 1 a few months back. I own and have owned a bunch of Camillus knives. The sabre grind contours on this Mark 1 are about as good as it gets for a production knife. I can think of one other sabre grind - on both sides - blade that was a work of art by Camillus N.Y. Cutlery. That was on the 1946 (one year only) "first generation" Carpenter's Whittler's pocket knife. The first year of the 72 model the blade configuration was also different (and much better IMHO) than the following years. The 72 had very nice Rogers jigged bone handles from 1946-1950 as well.
My primary reason for a new topic on the Camillus Mark 1 is to get feedback from you guys of the markings stamped (hard) on the guard. I was told they are rare and wanted to know from the experts on here what exactly these markings represent. Are they strictly Camillus markings, possibly random, or were they stamped at the Navy's request? The markings are of the number "615" and a triangle with what appears to have a slanted D with regards to the triangle itself, but could be a symbol or something else. (On the last photo I put a 10X jeweler's loupe on my cell's camera eye for greater magnification)

Secondly, the sheath is a left-handed sheath but with a right-handed secure strap. (I noticed most sheaths used by Camillus had the right-handed secure strap) When I first noticed it was left-handed I searched for other USN Mark 1 sheaths and I noticed that they are all left-handed with secure straps that vary in direction. What's that all about? Were USN Mark 1 knives made to be carried on the left side, for left-handed use, or for right-handed reverse draw? The latter is how someone trained in self-defense would likely use the knife.

 

All comments appreciated. Thanks

 

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SolWarrior- Welcome to the the Edged Weapons Forum ! Good folks here. Enjoy! I own 4 x Camillus MK1s, I have never seen these markings before. Maybe some of the other collectors will chime in on something they have seen. SKIP

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Welcome to the forum!

I think the main concensus when we see markings like these, is that they are rack or inventory numbers. Not uncommon to see applied in the spectrum of militia blades. Ships or stations sometimes apply these for records, accountability purposes. I had an initial gut feeling when you mentioned "rare", implying it may potentially have more value. In my opinion it is a mute unique feature applied to this example. However, this example does have a little bit more desirability being an earlier production bright blade, and in wonderful condition. I see the sheath is named? can you provide that info?

 

I think you may be thinking a little too technical, regarding your second thought. Sheath knives were merely intended to be worn on the trouser belt, whether right or left handed. There was no formal prescribed wearing of sheath or hunting knives, in regards to location on the user. Their design had no intentions towards a "quick draw". The sheath you have was the typical manufactured by Mosser Leather and supplied to Camillus, that's just how they made them. In the whole line of sheath knives, no matter what pattern, you'll find left and right handed sheaths with no rhyme or reason. So, don't rack your head over it too much.

A perspective to consider is that the Mark I was not a "fighting" knife, it was considered a "utility" knife. In other words, it was a Tool being considered universal to a multitude of functions. Carrying it was no different than carrying, lets say, a pair of pliers.

The whole objective to carrying a knife would be to have it in a location easily accessible, at the users discretion.

 

Here, we have an example of some Naval TBM Avenger aircrew. All three are carrying sheath knives. The two on the left carry the Camillus MARK I, far right, carries a PAL RH-36. They all carry the knife per their personal preference, but most importantly, in an accessible location. Now that you have an interest , observe film footage and still pictures, you'll observe Naval deck personnel often carrying the knives towards the back and all other locations around their waist.

 

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A perspective to consider is that the Mark I was not a "fighting" knife, it was considered a "utility" knife. In other words, it was a Tool being considered universal to a multitude of functions. Carrying it was no different than carrying, lets say, a pair of pliers.

The whole objective to carrying a knife would be to have it in a location easily accessible, at the users discretion.

 

 

Dustin's point on the Mark I serving more as a utility knife or tool than a combat or fighting knife is well taken.

 

Just last evening I was reading an excellent book, Little Ship Big War by Edward Stafford. it is about his experiences in WW2 as an officer aboard a destroyer escort, the USS Abercrombie DE-343, commissioned in 1944. The ship was named for a naval aviator lost in the Midway battle.

 

Stafford recounts the following event which I think symbolizes the typical uses of these kinds of Navy sheath knives in WW2. The knife in question is not identified as a Mark I but rather as a "survival knife". Even so, I suspect chances are good that it was either a Mark I or Mark 2 blade.

 

A PBM Mariner seaplane with 40 passengers had put down at night in the Caribbean Sea in stormy conditions and had issued a distress call. Two of the Abercrombie's sister ships, the USS Wann and the USS McCoy Reynolds, were assigned the rescue mission.

 

"Wann and McCoy Reynolds, making 22 knots in line abreast, picked up the crippled seaplane on radar at 2130 on July 21, and at 2145 they saw red distress flares from a Very pistol pop into sight on the horizon ahead and drift slowly down......Eleven minutes later the big twin engine Mariner was in sight. ...McCoy Reynolds launched her boat immediately, and in the Wann, the Captain asked for volunteers to man the whaleboat under what were obviously risky conditions. Wann's boat was away at 2315 with Bill Rogers in charge. The night was dark and moonless with 40 knots of wind kicking up seas of 10 feet or better. Fighting wind and sea, and dodging the plane's flailing wings and tail, Wann's cox'n brought the boat gingerly alongside the barn door size waist hatch on the plane's lee side, and nine passengers were able to jump aboard, timing their leaps. ...But as the last man came aboard, he cast off the whaleboat's long painter [a rope], which had secured it to the plane, and dropped it in the sea, where it promptly trailed aft, wound up in the propeller and stalled the engine. ...There was only one thing to do. Over the side went Bill Rogers into the tossing black water. With his survival knife and hanging onto the shaft 3 feet below the surface, being banged and slammed against rudder and hull, he managed to cut away the line and free the prop."

 

A rather heroic effort by Mr. Rogers, I'd say. But he could not have done the job without a sturdy Navy knife to clear that fouled line.

 

Regards,

Charlie

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Hello, Skip, Dustin and Charlie. Thanks for welcoming me to USMF Edged Weapons, Skip and Dustin, and thanks a bunch for the great feedback as well.

 

I've seen and owned many fixed blade knives, mostly poor man's hunting knives (Schrade Cut Co., Schrade Walden, Schrade USA, Camillus, Kabar...) and some military. I found a WW2 bayonet with U.F.H. and U.S. below that but between the U.S. it has a round eye with lashes on it. Below that it has 1943 and on the other side in smaller lettering O.L with a small flaming bomb beside it. I currently own 3 Camillus N.Y. (stamped in bold lettering at the ricasso) JPSKs too, with no dates, which would date them from 1962-1966.
All the pilot and flight crew survival knives that I've seen come with ambidextrous sheaths. I believe that these sheaths were ambidextrous by design and with good reason. Which stands to reason, at least to me, that the left-handed leather sheaths for the Mark 1s were intentionally designed to have the blade faced forward for most carriers which are right-handed, but for what reason I do not know.
I have read that 9 of out 10 people are right handed and most of the leather sheaths made for the general public are right-handed sheaths for that reason. I have one or two older knives that came with ambidextrous sheaths and one or two with left-handed sheaths. Most were right-handed and as you said "The whole objective to carrying a knife would be to have it in a location easily accessible, at the users discretion." The location most easily accessible, IMHO, for 9 out of 10 people would be on the right side with the blade facing back, as usual, even for a utility knife. Thus, the most logical option, to me at least, would be right-handed sheaths but the Navy went the other way, and that is what has me puzzled.
As for the writing on the sheath, it has what I believe to be the original owner's name. "H.R. Lucas" and what looks like "Y 2/6", to me, after the name. It is followed by tag number "663-30-37" and "U.S.N.R" below that. It has on the back as well but without the Y 2/6. The photo is from the person that sold me the knife. - Felix
Oh, I almost forgot. This Mark 1 might not be a bright blade version. I think it was striped of its coating, or carefully removed with light sandpaper. It has what appear to be some worn out coating left on the back of the blade/opposite end to the edge, but not 100% sure.

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SolWarrior- During WW2 a lot of the knives had left handed sheaths "Quartermaster" knives made by Cattauragus, and Case come to mind first. Not sure of any particular reason. I carried a Case 336 for a few years, the left handed sheath was a pain, but the knife was probably the sturdiest I ever carried. SKIP

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The Y2/C would mean Yoeman 2nd Class, an E5 paper pusher who worked in the Admin Office for the XO. Boat crewman could easily have been a tasked assigned to a Yoeman during amphibious operations or small boat ops, e.g. harbor transfers, etc.

 

On Navy shops, in port Quarterdeck (QD) watches include a Petty Officer of the Watch who is usually armed with a pistol, M1911s during my active duty time, probably Berretta M92s for the last 30+ years. It's very possible that a QD POOW might have carried both during wartime operations, leading to a LH knife carry position.

 

The individual in question may might have had only 1 knife and would have configured it to be usable for both duties sets.

 

 

With respect to LH vs RH, i have seen several references to officers carrying LH knives as a M1911 sidearm was universally carried RHC. The same reasoning would apply to a POOW carrying both.

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Skip, you're right, they are a pain for most of us right handers. :)

zzyzzogeton, thanks for the interesting feedback. I believe you're right. It is Y 2/C rather than Y 2/6. As a right hander a left handed sheath carried on the left would be difficult to get use to, as Skip pointed out. Most of us righties are just way too use to being catered to and would have a hard time adjusting to a LH sheath knife from the left. In that situation I think I'd carry a LH sheathed knife just behind the sidearm or further back to have the blade's edge facing away from the body while pulling it out and around the body, and facing down once in front.

 

Thanks again Skip, Dustin and Charlie for the feedback. And thank you zzyzzogeton for clearing things up. - Felix

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SolWarrior

 

I think you would be surprised how quickly a righty could get used to packing a lefty knife if he/she did it as an EDC.

 

I have carried dual fixed blades on a daily basis for years. Initially, it was a little awkward drawing, using and sheathing the left side knife. I made it a habit to use the LH knife every other time I needed to cut something. Within 2 weeks, I was to the point that I could sheath the knife with barely looking and within a month, sheath it without looking. Humans can get used to anything if they do it often and long enough.

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  • 4 weeks later...

As mentioned, the knife is intended to be a tool and used as such. A pistol, as a weapon, should be given quick unimpeded access. I surmise that if a pistol were carried that it would make sense to move the knife to the other side of the belt. Ive often drawn knives with my left hand and then passed them to my right hand to use.

The beatings will continue until morale has improved..

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