British Officers’ Swords from WWI
British officers’ swords, all of which were owned by officers who served in World War One. From top to bottom; P1895 Infantry Officer’s Sword of a Lt.-Col., The Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment); P1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword of a Major, Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment); P1821 Royal Artillery Officer’s Sword of a Major, Royal Artillery; P1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword of a Major, King’s Regiment (Liverpool); P1897 Infantry Officer’s Sword of a Lieutenant, 6th Jat Light Infantry.
British Highland Officer’s Cross Hilt Sword
The Victorian Highland Light Infantry sword (with field service cross hilt) for Ernest Montagu Leith (1888-1971), winner of the Military Cross during WW1. Captain Leith served with the 1/5 City of Glasgow Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Highland Light Infantry, commissioning as 2nd Lieutenant in 1912 and reaching Captain by 1917 (back-dated to 1916). He served through WW1, including at Gallipoli, was Mentioned in Despatches by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig (London Gazette 20 May 1918) and was made a Chevalier of the Order of the Crown of Roumania (Romania) and Chevalier of the Military Order of Avis (Portugal). His Military Cross citation, as featured in the London Gazette of 14 March 1916 reads:
“Lieutenant Ernest Montagu Leith, 1/5th (City of Glasgow) Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry, Territorial Force. For conspicuous gallantry when commanding grenade parties in an attack. All the officers and several men were wounded, but he at once established and held a barricade, reorganised his party behind it, and, at a critical moment, assured the success of the attack”.
The sword has a 32 inch double-edged blade and has the field service cruciform hilt fitted, with the extended langets particular to the Highland Light Infantry pattern. The blade is bright and etching clean, with thistles and the VR cypher showing that it dates to pre-1901. This means that Leith presumably got this sword second-hand, perhaps handed down from a family member or fellow officer, but we know it was Leith’s because he wrote his name on the scabbard strap (pictured). The sword also comes complete with a transit/storage bag, which has a weather-proofed outer skin and is lined with chamois.
British Pattern 1796 Infantry Officer’s Sword
The Pattern 1796 Infantry Officer’s Sword was the successor to the Pattern 1786 sword (which was really just a blade pattern and officers could choose whatever hilt they wished). The hilt of the P1796 was based on a Continental pattern which had been in existence for some time–a gilt brass guard and knuckle bow with silver wire (sometimes sheet silver) wrapped grip. The blades are generally 1 inch wide at the ricasso and approximately 31-32 inches long and decorated in some manner (etching or blue & gilt, for example). This pattern was in service until 1822 when a new infantry sword pattern was introduced. For an outstanding article on British swords of the period, please see “The British Officer’s Sword 1776-1815” by David Critchley.
This example was cleaned vigorously throughout its 200 year life and no decoration or maker name remains. The gilt is almost completely gone from the brass hilt. The grip is a wood core with silver sheet wrap to simulate wire. The guard is hinged on the inside portion so that when it is folded it will not damage the wearer’s uniform.
This is a pattern which would have been carried by British infantry officers at the Battle of Waterloo.
British Silver Hilted Rifle Officer’s Presentation Sword
83 cm unfullered blade double edged towards the point by S.J. Pillin, Manufacturer Gerrard St., Soho, London etched for virtually its entire length with foliate scrolls, the arms and crest of Middlesex, crowned VR cypher, regimental title of ‘The Queen’s Westminster (13th Middlesex) Rifle Volunteers, regimental badge, presentation inscription, and arms, crest, motto and initials of the recipient, silver regulation gothic hilt incorporating a slung bugle horn, the interior engraved with foliate scrolls, the back-piece cast with scrolling foliage, silver wire bound fish skin covered grip, in its plated scabbard engraved with recipient’s crest and motto, two suspension rings, complete with sword knot of silver bullion cord and acorn. Hallmarked London 1882, and maker’s mark S.J.P.
The inscription reads: Presented on the 12th December 1882 to Major J.W. Comerford, Queen’s Westminster Rifle Volunteers, by members of C. Company, who had served under him whilst Captain of that Company from 1871 to 1882.
Indian Cavalry Trooper’s Sword, c.WWI
An Anglo-Indian officer’s sword for issue to Indian regiments, the blade stamped Mole Birmingham makers 1916 ISD and RR 11.17, with leather scabbard, blade length 80cm.
British Pattern 1857 Engineers Officer’s Sword
British Pattern 1895 Infantry Officer’s Levée
This example appears to be a levée or picquet weight sword for dress rather than a sword intended for active service.
Picquet weight swords, sometimes called
swords, were light weight versions of service swords and were not intended for combat.
Here is an example of a cased set of swords; one for service, one for dress.