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M1905 & M1910 T Handle Shovel 1905 - 1943


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The above shovel "British Made" type is a correct period item. I have pictorial evidence of it being used.

Will try and post a picture of one in use.

 

Cheers,

 

Jon

 

I assume that these shovels are WWII then? Please post some photos, it will help eliminate this shovel being ID'd as pre 1910.

Frankie G.

 

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I've posted my shovels before on this forum. I have one of the unsupported one that I bought with the carrier attached to a havorsack at an estate sale. I have the wrap around model just posted. I have one where the rear support was added.(Military fixing a problem?) Then I have the regular WWI Model. They all look military to me \. Robert

 

Hi Robert, here's the other mystery shovel you mention.

 

There are three theories to this one.

 

1. It's a shovel made for the US Marine Corps.

2. The shovel was made post WWII for the French Army

3. This is the M1905 Shovel but strengthened with a rear support.

 

Theory three can be disregarded as the shovel's blade is totally different than the so called "M1905" shovel blade.

post-599-1238682673.jpg

Frankie G.

 

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All I know for sure was mine came in a 1918 R.I.A. cover and has a VERDUN medalion tied to it. Some day we might find the book/paper or whatever clearing it all up once and for all. Robert

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Hi,

 

Here's the picture I am on about. It shows the 505th in Salerno. Note the guy on the right with his back to the camera. He has one of these shovels under the flap of his mussette pack.

 

505salerno.jpg

 

I know that it's not brilliant quality, but I do believe this to be evidence of this shovel in use. I'd certainly add one to my collection, and I'm an entrenching tool nut!

 

Many thanks,

 

Jon

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Except an Apache helicopter, an Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive compliment of weaponry. An absolute death machine."

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By the way, british made makes sense. I have a british army 58 pattern entrenching tool, and the blade is remarkably similar in construction.

 

Many thanks,

 

Jon

WWW.FAAA.ME.UK

"Now if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that nothing is more powerful than a young boys wish.
Except an Apache helicopter, an Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive compliment of weaponry. An absolute death machine."

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  • 2 weeks later...
By the way, british made makes sense. I have a british army 58 pattern entrenching tool, and the blade is remarkably similar in construction.

 

Many thanks,

 

Jon

 

 

I just returned from the Military History Institute Library at Carlisle PA. There I copied the Ordnance Department's "Instructions to Bidders and specifications governing the manufacture and inspection of shovels, pick mattocks and axes for intrenching tools" 1905, 1907,1909 and 1914. They are all very clear about what a US Army Intrenching Shovel should look like. There is no difference between between what everyone considers to be a Model 1910 intrenching shovel and a shovel made between 1905 and 1910. The Specs. call for a strap on the front and the back. Also a good report to read is the Annual Report of the Chief of Ordnance 1905, I believe appendix No VII. Available on Google Books. From the get go the Army said it needed a strap on the front and back of the blade to attach to the handle. Shovels with only one strap would not have stood up. As other have said, I too agree that the one strap shovels are aftermarket shovels.

I have examined one of the stamped shovels with a rolled tube into which the handle is inserted type shovels. It may be of British manufacture, though I have another theory. Maybe when the Army needed to supply shovels to a couple of million new recruits for WWI, the system of manufacture standards were relaxed as long as the shovel still met the strength tests required of it.

Just some thoughts.

 

Jon P

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I just returned from the Military History Institute Library at Carlisle PA. There I copied the Ordnance Department's "Instructions to Bidders and specifications governing the manufacture and inspection of shovels, pick mattocks and axes for intrenching tools" 1905, 1907,1909 and 1914. They are all very clear about what a US Army Intrenching Shovel should look like. There is no difference between between what everyone considers to be a Model 1910 intrenching shovel and a shovel made between 1905 and 1910. The Specs. call for a strap on the front and the back. Also a good report to read is the Annual Report of the Chief of Ordnance 1905, I believe appendix No VII. Available on Google Books. From the get go the Army said it needed a strap on the front and back of the blade to attach to the handle. Shovels with only one strap would not have stood up. As other have said, I too agree that the one strap shovels are aftermarket shovels.

I have examined one of the stamped shovels with a rolled tube into which the handle is inserted type shovels. It may be of British manufacture, though I have another theory. Maybe when the Army needed to supply shovels to a couple of million new recruits for WWI, the system of manufacture standards were relaxed as long as the shovel still met the strength tests required of it.

Just some thoughts.

 

Jon P

 

Thanks a lot Jon!

 

I did some further searching for the 1905 Annual Reports which I hadn't been able to locate before. Here's the text mentioning the shovel, reinforced on both sides-

 

Upon further consideration of the proper type of intrenching shovel or spade, the committee requested that a model be constructed by Major Burr, as set forth in the following letter:

War Department,

Office Of The Chief Of Staff,

 

Washington, April 27, 1905.

 

Sir: The committee of the General Staff upon the general subject of intrenching tools requests that you will have constructed for their inspection one intrenching shovel of the type of No. 1, herewith, with the following modifications:

 

1. Replace the iron cross handle or clutch with a wooden cross handle, as in model No. 3, herewith.

 

2. Construct the reenforce—the upper and lower continuations of the blade along the handle—to the point indicated on the model. Upper and lower parts of the reenforce to be of the same length, instead of having the upper one longer than the lower, as on the present model. Also, a carrier for the pick-mattock with 22-inch handle, along the lines of the one sent for our inspection belonging to the regular engineer pick-mattock.

 

The committee requests that all models sent to you with this letter be returned with the finished articles, and would be glad to have them at the earliest practicable date.

 

Respectfully, P. C. March,

 

Captain, General Staff, Recorder. Maj. Edward Burr,

 

Commandant Engineer School,

 

Washington Barracks, D. C.

 

Frankie G.

 

Check out my US World War I Site,

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A recent discussion has turned up evidence that the so called M1905 shovels with only one blade reinforcement is nothing more than a surplus store special. See http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/ind...showtopic=38524

 

This "M1905" Shovel made by What Price Glory illustrates the myth that has been considered fact for many years.

post-599-1239806113.jpg

Frankie G.

 

Check out my US World War I Site,

http://www.aef-doughboys.com

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The 1905 Annual Reports to the Secretary of War specifically states that the shovel have two reinforcements for the blade.

 

2. Construct the reenforce—the upper and lower continuations of the blade along the handle—to the point indicated on the model. Upper and lower parts of the reenforce to be of the same length, instead of having the upper one longer than the lower, as on the present model.

Frankie G.

 

Check out my US World War I Site,

http://www.aef-doughboys.com

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Now here's the question-

 

How can you tell an early shovel from a later shovel? So far all shovels I've viewed are exactly the same with same US font, bottom of the letters facing to our left.

 

There is one other variation which I've read as being made in 1915/1916. These have straight shoulders on the blade and two notches at the handle. The T of the handle is stamped with the Ordnance Dept's flaming bomb symbol.

Frankie G.

 

Check out my US World War I Site,

http://www.aef-doughboys.com

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Frankie, nice work.

 

I have two questions, first,

 

Do you recall where the information regarding the 1915/16 shovel originated?

 

And second,

 

Was there anything in the 1905 report indicating if the wooden handles of the early digging tools (e-tool, pick-mattock)were painted or unpainted?

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Frankie, nice work.

 

I have two questions, first,

 

Do you recall where the information regarding the 1915/16 shovel originated?

 

And second,

 

Was there anything in the 1905 report indicating if the wooden handles of the early digging tools (e-tool, pick-mattock)were painted or unpainted?

 

I didn't see anything in the 1905 annual report about painting intrenching tools. There are a couple of pages on the subject of tools which I will send your way later on.

 

On the 1915/1916 ID I saw that on a dealer site so it's most likely speculation but there may be some credence to it. I'll try to locate where I saw it.

Frankie G.

 

Check out my US World War I Site,

http://www.aef-doughboys.com

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The 1910 papers specifically claim the shovel was to be painted with two coats of OD. The PickMatox was to be painted and have both the pointy and adze ends painted black.

 

but it is a good question if the original shovel was painted.

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The 1910 papers specifically claim the shovel was to be painted with two coats of OD. The PickMatox was to be painted and have both the pointy and adze ends painted black.

 

but it is a good question if the original shovel was painted.

 

I would say yes, they would definitely paint the shovels to prevent rusting and to match other field gear

 

unpainted metal gear would rust much faster in the wet trenches, so it makes sense that they would have put a coat of green paint to protect it.

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And yet a very large number of people claim the WW1 shovels were not painted. Some claim they were just oiled when shipped out. It is probably the 2nd biggest shovel mystery next to the "unreinforced showvwl question."

 

I still have someone digging in the files of a massive 1865-1916 collection to see if the guy had any mention of this stuff, but so far no luck.

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Earlymb, I bought a shovel identical to yours a number of years ago: I had a couple of tables set up at a T.M.C.A. show in Dallas, and picked it up on set-up day. During the show, I had a lot of W.W.I collectors converge on me and try to make offers, saying that it was the original M1905 (think I only paid 20 bucks for it). I think it can be seen in some very early field manuals.

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Getting back to the question of whether or not the early shovels were painted or not; I have a photocopy from the

 

"Horse Equipments and Equipments For Officers And Men", revised on July 3, 1908 and first published on May 10, 1905 (presumably right after the shovel was adopted).

 

Plate XVII shows the hand ax, pick-mattock and entrenching shovel (unfortunately they were all photographed inside of their carriers, so the details of the shovel blade are not visible. However, the wooden handles are pretty clear in the photocopy and to me; they definitely look as if they are unpainted, particularly the pick-mattock handle, which clearly shows the natural grain of the wood.

 

Generally, when the army updated/revised any manual they rarely changed the photographs unless it was absolutely necessary. In the case of the image of the tools the only thing that may have changed between 1905 and 1907 would have been a coat of O.D. paint and if paint was added, I doubt that this would have been a dramatic enough change to warrant a new photograph, so the updated manual most likely contains a photograph of what the M1905 shovel looked like at its inception. In my opinion the early tools were unpainted.

 

I’m not sure how the photocopied page will appear once posted, but I’ll post it anyway, along with an enlargement of the pick-mattock and the shovel. Let’s see what you think; painted or unpainted?

post-5143-1240032993.jpg

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The written description (which makes no mention regarding paint) that accompanied the plate is as follows:

 

INTRENCHING TOOLS.

(Plate XVII)[/center]

 

[center]“The tools are---

 

1 rule.

1 wire cutter.

1 hand ax and carrier.

1 intrenching shovel and carrier.

1 intrenching pick mattock and carrier.

 

The rule is 2 feet long and four fold, and is graduated in eighths, tenths, twelfths, and sixteenths of an inch.

 

The wire cutter is a commercial button pliers, 10 inches long.

 

The hand ax is of solid cast steel, forged and tempered and weighing 28 ½ ounces, the handle being of second-growth hickory, secured to the head by a wooden wedge and a metal wedge. The carrier body is made from No. 1 olive drab cotton duck and provided with a buckle chape and billet for holding down the flap, and with a hook and fastener for attachment to the cartridge belt.

 

The intrenching shovel weighs 30 ounces and has a blade of solid cast steel, tempered and ground, the upper part forming a socket for the ash or second growth-hickory handle, which is in two pieces forming a T, with a sheet-steel strap around the joint and fastened with two rivets. The carrier consists of a body of olive-drab duck and a strap which secures the shovel by one turn around the handle. It is attached to the belt with a hook and fastener similar to the one used on the hand-ax carrier.

 

The pick mattock weighs complete 42 ounces, has a head of solid cast steel drop forged and ground, the blade point being tempered, and a handle of second-growth hickory, which is detached when carried.

 

The carrier body consists of three pieces of olive-drab cotton duck held together by tubular rivets, and so assembled that one piece forms a pocket for the head, which is secured in place by folding up the bottom and fastening the strap around the outside, while the two other pieces form a carrier for the handle. A hook and fastener similar to those used on the hand-ax carrier are attached.”

post-5143-1240033158.jpg

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I forgot to mention that in the photos posted above there is an obvious difference between the color of the darker O.D. carriers and the lighter unpainted wooden handles; if they were painted O.D. wouldn't they be much darker and almost identical in color to the cotton carriers?

 

Another reason that leads me to believe that the early tools were unpainted is that the color of the natural wooden handles would have matched the khaki cotton uniforms, which at the time of the shovel's adoption in 1905 were being worn by the majority of troops in the U.S. If they were painted O.D. the darker color would have noticeably contrasted against the lighter khaki cotton fabric.

 

I don't think that paint was used by the army just to weatherproof the tools, all this would have done was raise the cost of their production when oiling the wooden handles would have been cheaper and worked just as well. How often do you see similar tools that were used on farms and in mining industry painted? The only reason to paint them was to render them less conspicous in the field.

 

I think the whole point of painting the tools was to achieve a uniform color when worn with the O.D. uniform and webbing which appeared on a larger scale in 1907. Painting the tools at this early stage would have produced the opposite effect when worn with the khkaki webbing and uniform.

 

Even though the army adopted an O.D. service uniform in 1902, prior to 1907 most soldiers were still wearing khaki tan, because the QTMC was trying to get rid of the large supply of khaki uniforms that were in stock and from what I have read, they were only issuing O.D. uniforms to troops returning from the Philipines and did not start to issue O.D. service dress army wideuntil 1906 or 1907, which led to changing the color of web gear from khaki to O.D.

 

My theory is that the tools were painted sometime between 1907 and 1910; the earliest being around 1907, when the army finally got around to issuing O.D. service dress on a larger scale and the latest in 1910 when the M1910 Infantry Equipment was adopted.

 

Further research still needs to be done.

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