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An NZ Knuckle Knife Photo From 1944

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The New Zealand made knuckle knives are well known to both UK and Empire blade collectors as well as US blade collectors who understand that some of those knives were picked up and used by US Forces during the War.  Not a USGI blade, these knives in US service would more properly be classified as private purchase items.  

Contemporary photos of these blades have always been scarce.  Thus, when I ran across the image below I wanted to share it with members here.

NZ Knuckle knife at Nissan Island 1-44.jpg

This photo was taken on January 31, 1944.  It shows New Zealand soldiers being landed by US landing craft crews at Nissan Atoll in the Green Islands.  These islands were Japanese held and were located about 117 miles east of Rabaul, a Japanese stronghold.  This mission was a reconnaissance trip.  Along with some technical experts the soldiers involved were from 30 Battalion, 14 Brigade, 3rd NZ Division.  There were several KIA and other casualties when Japanese forces discovered the Allied force.  The Allied forces later withdrew to US Navy APD destroyer transports.  The following month the Green Islands were invaded and captured.  The first soldier on the left has the knife on his belt.  The others are carrying a mixture of US and NZ weapons.

Working closely with NZ forces it is easy to see how Navy sailors and other US servicemen could have swapped for or bought the NZ knuckle knives.  I don't recall seeing any photos of US servicemen with the Knuckle Knives, but this photo comes close with Navy sailors in the image.




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Your post prompted me to think of this image in my archive of VF-40, c.1944.

A pilot with the nickname of HART (Earl Hartman, Lt. jg) is sporting an Aussie knuckle knife. 

VF-40 was a land based outfit in the Solomon Islands from the Canal, Vella Lavella and Bougainville through 1943. I think this image was taken sometime around March 1944 concluding their combat tour. However, Hartman was still with VF-40 during their second tour and cruise while aboard the USS Suwanee in 1945, so it could be then too. Either way, I'm sure he picked up the knife while on tour in the SWPA in 1943.



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