rorkesdriftvc.com Forum Index


rorkesdriftvc.com
Discussions related to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
Reply to topic
Victorian Fighting Techniques With The Handheld Bayonet
Coll
Guest

Reply with quote
I'm aware of several books on the use of knives and swords during different eras, but with the Martini Henry bayonet being of it's unique design and length, I wondered if there was a booklet, using illustrations showing the fighting techniques to be used by soldiers when the Martini Henry bayonet was handheld in a close quarter engagement, rather than attached to the rifle ?

This was sort of covered in the old forum, but I'm still curious to know how a bayonet of this type would be used in this situation, as part of military training, around the time of the Zulu War.

Thankyou

Coll
Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
Reply with quote
Coll
It would be very difficult to use the P1853 (bushed for .450) or the P1876 socket bayonet as a fighting tool in its own right as the shape does not allow for any hand grip. The socket slides over the top of the muzzle. I am unaware of any supplemental turned wooden mop handle which would allow a grip. If it was it would have been acquired locally.
Sargeants would have the Yataghan bayonet, which would double up as a sword due to the leather handgrip, the bayonet being fastened to the bayonet bar on the front barrel band and a ring holding the bayonet in front of the foresight.

Later pattern Martini Bayonets Like the P1887 MK1-3 were in effect small swords.

I do not suppose the British army had any idea that a non sophisticated enemy of the time would even get close enough for a hand to hand brawl.
O h how things changed! Last time I visited the IWM their collection of WW1 trench fighting tools looked more like those used in medieval times.

_________________
Neil
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailVisit poster's website
Coll
Guest

Reply with quote
Neil

Many thanks.

I hadn't considered the fact of an improvised handle fashioned to suit using the Martini Henry bayonet in a close quarters fight.

Maybe long-serving soldiers, with experience of such combat did indeed obtain such an attachment to add to their official equipment 'should the situation arise'.

I've seen some of the W.W.1. trench knives. Nasty, but effective.

Quite frightening to know that even in more modern warfare fighting can come down to using such weapons.

Coll
Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
Reply with quote
Coll,

Neil is quite right in referring to handles, albeit locally made. I have seen one or two. They have been made up with little lugs to engage the fixing slot. The only problem is that I am not entirely confident that the ones I saw were ever intended for use in action - they could have been to enable the bayonet to be used as a utensil of some sort, or even in civilian life as a poker ! But the idea would hold good if a soldier fashioned such a thing for himself.

I recall one reference (though I am struggling to place it) to the socket bayonet being used by hand. As Neil said, it would be very awkward, and would really only be capable of a thrust (as opposed to the cut of a sword-bayonet).

_________________
Hope this assists,
Adrian
View user's profileSend private message
Coll
Guest

Reply with quote
Adrian

Thanks for your reply.

Yes. I was trying to imagine how it would be used at close quarters and have seen various uses of knife and sword in combat to help visualise any sort of fighting technique that could be created.

Holding the bayonet in the hand pointing upwards would allow either a thrust or lunge forward, an upwards motion into the lower body, or even bringing it round into the side of an opponent.

Also, holding it in a downwards position would allow you to strike from above into the chest, or if twisting your body and crouching with the bayonet horizontal towards your opponent could strike his other side using a backwards swinging movement.

However, as I don't own a bayonet to get a sense of its abilities, I'm not sure either method would work.

Mind you, a determined soldier in the later stages of Isandlwana or trapped in a small room of a building at Rorke's Drift, I'm sure would find some use for such a weapon, even just to give him a fighting chance.

Thanks again.

Coll
Eduardo


Joined: 10 Dec 2005
Posts: 13
Reply with quote
It seems that during the battle of Isandhlwana, the bayonet was extensively used, and parried in a unique technique by the zulus. There is a well known painting about the battle (a copy hanging on the wall in my office), showing this technique, namely, the British soldier would thrust with his bayonet , which would become stuck in the zulu's shield. While the soldier would pull trying to free it, the same or another zulu would assegai him. Not unlike the pilum used by the roman soldiers.
Cheers!
View user's profileSend private message
Coll
Guest

Reply with quote
Eduardo

Are you meaning the 'Last Stand of the 24th at Isandlwana' by Charles Fripp ?

In the painting I do see a soldier involved in the situation you describe.

However, I am actually meaning the use of the bayonet as a hand held weapon, not attached to the rifle.

The only examples I've seen it used by hand were on film - 'Zulu' and 'Zulu Dawn'.

If I'm right, when Hook had been ordered to make loopholes in the wall it was the bayonet that was being used for this task. Also, in 'Zulu Dawn' a Zulu prisoner kills a soldier using a two-handed grip to plunge the bayonet into his back.

These two examples don't really prove that it can/could be used as such, being films on the big screen, rather than real events.

But as it is a menacing looking weapon, with the possible addition of an improvised handle, in the right hands could be used to good effect. Therefore, I had wondered if any sort of fighting techniques, trained by the military or developed by the soldiers themselves, may have been incorporated into any situation that should possibly arise, requiring a smaller practical weapon, if denied the room or distance from the opponent to use it on a rifle.

Coll
Eduardo


Joined: 10 Dec 2005
Posts: 13
Reply with quote
Coll

Indeed, that is the painting I meant. I may add, that a propos the "technique" used by the zulus, it was detailed in a book I read, and is coincidently depicted by the painting "Last stand....."

While I am not aware of any special training, I have no doubts the bayonet was used routinly as a stabbing knife if the occasion permitted it. On the other hand, during WWI, the germans seemed to prefer their linemann shovel (they sharpened the edges), to kill the enemy attacking their trenches.
Cheers!
View user's profileSend private message
Coll
Guest

Reply with quote
Eduardo

Yes. I think there would have also been various tools at Isandlwana, picks, etc., for entrenching and such, although I'm sure there was an account mentioning a soldier even defending himself with a tent peg mallet.

I guess, when it comes down to it, anything that may better your chances in close-quarter combat, even slightly, is better than nothing.

Coll
John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
Reply with quote
Coll,

You're forgetting other ready-to-hand items suchas razors & belts.

Razors in the Air might well have been written by a forebear of yours, a B. Maxwell published it in 1880, but the words aren't quite p.c. for me to repeat on an open forum in the 21st Century. Razors were still being used in 1940 during the Retreat to Dunkirk, when a group of Scottish Pioneers set about a group of Germans with them.

Belts as a weapon were immortalised by Kipling in his poem of the same name.

No rule book or manual of arms for those weapons, just an instinct to survive.

John Y.
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
Victorian Fighting Techniques With The Handheld Bayonet
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
All times are GMT  
Page 1 of 1  

  
  
 Reply to topic