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THE HISTORY OF THE WWI FIGHTING KNIFE

Knives have been a key fighting weapon in every war. No matter how advanced the technology, a good knife always has a place in battle.

A special breed of knives saw extensive development during WWI. Known as the "fighting knife". While it could be employed for the uses of a regular knife, its primary goal was for hand-to-hand combat. The design, balance and materials employed varied from the run of the mill knife.

This page provides a sample of the various fighting knives used during WWI and beyond. The samples displayed here cover various countries that participated in the war. Information provided includes the identification of fighting knives and pricing of fighting knives.



THE US MARK I TRENCH KNIFE

The Mark I trench knife was an American trench knife designed for use in World War I. It had a 6.75 in double edged dagger blade useful for stabbing and cutting which other trench knives such as the 1917/1918 were not. The handle was actually made of cast bronze, which used a conical steel nut to hold the blade in. The Mark I's blade was blackened with a gun blue type finish, the bronze handle was chemically blackened, with spikes formed on each knuckle bow. These spikes were intended to prevent an opponent from grabbing the knife hand, as well as to improve the striking power.



WWI TRENCH KNIFE HANDLES

The trench knives were designed for close combatapplications. An enemy soldier may sneak into the trench in the middle of the night. There may not be time or space to reach for the rifle. The knife was the best weapon to dispatch the agressor. The blade of the knife was not the only weapon, the handle was also used as a striking surface.

The following section covers some of the handles that doubled as weapons:



This trench knife has a wooden handle. A metal handguard extends from one end to the other. A series of teeth looking structures covers the length of the handguard. These teeth would clearly cause damage upon striking a person.

The pommel of the handle has a round base with two holes. The center peaks into a round section.

This is a wooden handle with a handguard that has a series of solid pyramid shape extrusions. Heavy duty construction.

The pommel in this handle is an extensiof of the pyramid shape devices, with the exception that it is capped with what appears to be a rivet.

This is perhaps one of the most recognizable knife handles of WWI. Of brass construction. Space was allocated for each finger. The rings are capped with a small spike to enhance the striking power. This knife is highly reproduced because of its interesting design.

The pommel is also a weapon in this handle. In the shape of a sharp point with a multi-face base similar to that of a nut.



WWI TRENCH KNIFE BLADES

The blades of the trench knives were designed to kill the opponent. There were two main categories for the blades which are covered in this section.

This is a triangular blade. Designed to perform two funtions; one was to penetrate German helmets and deliver a deadly blow to the head. the other was to inflict hard to sew wounds to an enemy combatant.

The blade tapers down into a point. The edges of the weapon are not sharp. This is a thrusting blade as opposed to a slashing type. The blade does not have any markings stamped on it.


The second type of blade found in the trench knives follows. The shape is more like a regular fighting knife. Of double edge construction with a fairly large ricasso that converges into a point that forms the fuller of the blade.

This is more of a slashing weapon. The blade does not have any markings stamped on it.




WWI TRENCH KNIVES MARKINGS

Most of the WWI trench knives were marked with the manufacturer's name, year of production or US, to indicate United States. The markings were applied in different areas. The following photographs illustrate some of the locations of the markings.

These are some photographs of the markings found on the WWI US trench knives. The upper left picture shows the markings found on the crossguard (U.S. LF&C, 1917). The upper right photo shows the markings on the handle itself (US, 1918, LF&C).

The picture to the left shows the markings on the inside of the handguard. The markings read A.C.C.O. US, 1917.



WWI TRENCH KNIVES SCABBARD

The trench knives came with a variety of scabbards. Some of them were manufactured from leather, others from metal and yet a third type from a combiantion of both. some of the scabbards were factory produced while others were theater made.

The main body of the scabbard is constructed with heavy, thick leather. White cotton thread is employed to close the seam at one end.

The leather scabbard for the spike trench knife was made of heavy duty leather. The throat and the tip were made of metal. The throat was equipped with a hanging device.

The metal pieces are attached to the main body via the use of circular rivets.


The following is an example of a theater made scabbard. Constructed of brown leather. The edges have been sewn with heavy duty white cotton thread. the top of the scabbard has a couple of slits cut to allow the belt to go through.




If you have an interest is seeing other fighting knives, you can do so by going to our Military Fighting Knives Price Guide identification page. Where we cover Army, Navy, Army Air Force, USMC and other military groups.

While the knives shown on this page are not for sale, you can visit our website, MilitaryItems.com , to see other military and non-military knives available for sale.
 
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