UK Pattern 1888 AND 1903 Bayonets and Variations.

Including Scabbards

On this page I intend to outline the various 1888  and 1903 pattern bayonets available to the collector I  will use my collection and photographs from other collectors to illustrate the variations.

 

1888 MkI

Very distinctive 3 rivet grip with cleaning hole in the grips

UK 1888 Mk1.jpg (75667 bytes)

first type

 

 

1888 MkI ptII

Three rivet grip was reduced to 2 equal sized rivets due to problems with the grips on the ptI grips

1888 MkI 2nd Pattern made by MOLE, one of the less common makers

 

Manufacture date is 1899

 

Inspection marks on obverse ricasso

 

Pommel markings for MA OTC (officers training corps), I ma not sure of the meaning of the MA mark

MA OCT indicates it was issued to the Junior Division OTC - Morrison's Academy (Instructions to Armourers 1912, with Amendments 1916) Thanks to Derek Complin for the identification

 

 

 

 

1898 made blade

 

RR mark indicates reduced in status, there also appears to be a partially stamped removed from service stamp (facing WD arrows)

 

Cancelled pommel marks indicates that the blade was issued at least twice

 

 

Tang markings on 1888

1888 with RR ricasso mark, very distinctive grinding marks on the blade

 

 

Blade is unusual in having a completely blunt blade and no signs of sharpening

1888 in buff frog

Naval marked with 1939 Navy pattern scabbard, point has been rounded for an unknown reason. These bayonets were used in the UK by Naval shore based troops during WWII

 

Wilkinson London made blade

 

 

Rounded blade point is professionally carried out

uk 1888 naval issue markings.jpg (81999 bytes)

 Another Naval issue

 

Naval issue in WWII, "N" stamp on pommel and 1939 marks on scabbard

 

 

Markings of 1939 made scabbard

 

 

1888 MkII

A change in rifle to the Lee Enfield meant a change in the location of the cleaning hole from the hilt to the pommel, otherwise there is no change.

UK 1888 MkII.jpg (53791 bytes)

 

 

1888 MkIII

Grips were bolted to the rips rather than the earlier riveted. Some bayonets were made this way whilst others were reworks of earlier versions, these are not very common models.

1888 MkIII, made in late 1903 by Mole

UK 1888 MkIII .jpg (48048 bytes)

Poor condition example of a less than common bayonet (my first 1888)

 

 1888 "VOLUNTEER"/commercial

Unmarked examples are often ascribed as volunteer bayonets, they may however be commercial examples. They are all devoid of military acceptance marks. Examples are:

Greener           - these were often made from parts supplied by other makers and can show marking for both Greener and the original maker, and may show both oil holes as grips and pommels were mixed (or possibly to allow fixing to both rifles). Greener also made complete bayonets which show only Greener markings

Unmarked       - Many "volunteer" blades have no markings at all, and show variations in the blade grinding.

Commercial     - Blades can be found marked to Ontex and other commercial sellers

Volunteer         - Marked to a military unit but without military acceptance marks, these may be officer purchases, or for militia/volunteer units

Variations in scabbards can be found, with brass instead of steel mounts, with external and internal chapes etc.

 

 

Pommel on Wilkinson made Volunteer 1888, marked to Devon regiment

 

Is this the same RR mark as seen on the pommel

 

Nice walnut grips

 

 

Sold from service mark and what appears to be a very ornate reduced back to back R marking

 

Blade marked Wilkinson London, but no military markings or bend test. Could this be a private purchase piece, this may account for the sold from service mark which is only normally applied to military pieces

1888 Volunteer model

 

 

Of interest on this model is the complete lack of cleaning hole

 

1888 Volunteer with the rare small muzzle ring

 

Brown skin scabbard and unmarked bayonet except for L seen on many of these, the only difference is the muzzle ring

uk greener volunteer.jpg (87879 bytes)uk greener volunteer wilkinson mark.jpg (111437 bytes)uk greener volunteer greener mark.jpg (118973 bytes)uk greener tang marks.jpg (41527 bytes)

1888 Volunteer by Greener, it has two oil holes due to the use of parts from multiple sources

 

Wilkinson marking on Ricasso, Patt 88 on pommel

 

 

Greener marks on Ricasso

 

Greener stamps on Tang of Volunteer

1888 Volunteer made by Greener, this one has both Greener made blade and Greener pattern scabbard, with throat screw

UK volunteer 1888.jpg (50595 bytes)

Unmarked volunteer 1888 pattern bayonet in modified 1907 pattern scabbard

UK volunteer 1888 close up.jpg (75128 bytes)

Volunteer 1888

 

 

Hand made blade, with short ricasso and flat spine on Volunteer 1888

Volunteer 1888, no makers marks or inspection markings.

 

No cleaning hole in either the hilt or the pommel which is typical of many of the volunteers.

 

 

Muzzle ring has a very thin ring compared to normal 1888's.

 

Locket is brass with a copper wash and blacked over the top of this.

 

Chape is missing the end cap, however there there is no evidence of there having ever been one in place, this is one of a pair seen like this at the same time, so looks like this is as made.

1888 Volunteer made by Greener, this one has both Greener made blade and Greener pattern scabbard, with throat screw.

 

Pommel on Wilkinson made Volunteer 1888, marked to Devon regiment

 

Is this the same RR mark as seen on the pommel

 

Nice walnut grips

 

 

Sold from service mark and what appears to be a very ornate reduced back to back R marking

 

Blade marked Wilkinson London, but no military markings or bend test. Could this be a private purchase piece, this may account for the sold from service mark which is only normally applied to military pieces

1888 with RR marked for reduced in service, replacement grips look home made rather than arsenal, with steel pin rivets

A volunteer 1888 that has more than one interesting feature

 

 

The muzzle ring has been bushed to fit a 303 rifle, these are not common at all

 

Scabbard is very distinctive with an extra thick locket

 

and a sculpted mount and a very small frog stud, this is unlike any issue scabbard. the chape is a heavy iron mount rather than the thinner metal normally found

 

Frog is especially made for this scabbard, having a very small hole to grip the frog stud

This bayonet is very unusual and I have yet to talk to anyone who has seen another and it is not reported in any books

Volunteer 1888 with unknown maker mark CCC, has un sharpened blade and a ricasso mark

Another of these CCC marked blades has been shown to me by a fellow collector, so there are at least two, but neither of us know what the CCC means. Although his CCC marking is in a different font with a seriphed C

Commercial 1888

 

Marked to the Braendlin Armoury Co, normally a supplier of hunting rifles and pistols

 

 

Trade mark on opposite ricasso

 

Pommel has Pat 88 marking of commercial bayonets

 

 

only scabbard marking is this mark on the throat piece

 

HONG KONG

A Hong Kong Police (HKP) bayonet utilising a refinished UK 1888 and a German WWI Ersatz scabbard originally made by FAG. A seldom seen bayonet

 

The bayonet was originally sold from service as evident by the back to back WD arrows on the pommel.

 

Pommel marks match those on the scabbard.

 

The rework has been over existing damage to the blade and scabbard as original pitting and edge sharpening has been re blued.

 

New throat has been fitted to the

 

 

original FAG scabbard

 

MALTA

1st Kings Own Malta regiment UK 1888 MkI pt 2

 

 

1888 MkIII South African Made

 

Made by South African Railways (SAR).  

1941 date on the scabbard which I assume will be the approximate date of the manufacture of the whole item and not just the scabbard due to the SAS SAR name on both blade and scabbard. Hilt has screwed grips of the MkIII

 

SAR is South African Railways, in Afrikaans. It translates to Suid Afrikaans Spoorwe (SAS) so marking is English and Afrikaans.

The opposite side, are marked with 2 letters denoting which railway workshop they were made in, the EL represents the railway workshop at East London in the Cape province

Many thanks to Brian , Colin Amm and Jenny at Saaaca for the identification of the markings.

 

1902

Trials for a new bayonet for a new rifle (the SMLE) were carried out in 1902, a new hilt design was made and two blade lengths were tested both were based on the 1888 blade, one of the blades was a standard 1888 blade length the other a longer 15" blade. The shorter blade was chosen and produced as the 1903. The long bladed 1902 is very rare (375 made) and most examples I have heard of or seen are in very poor condition. I am not aware of any special markings for the short version which would have been identical to the 1903, and may account for some of the 1903's with pre 1902 dated blades.

1902 trials bayonet t

 

Comparison of the 1902 with the 1888, short 1902 would have been identical to the 1903

 

Ricasso marks limited to back to back R's for reduced condition of blade

 

Only other marking is an L on the tang, The condition of the blade and the fact that this was found in France may indicate that this blade may have actually issued and used during WWI although there is only speculation to this as there is nothing in the books to suggest this. The only other example I have seen was in only slightly better condition and had been found in a wall

 

 

1903

A new bayonet was required for the SMLE after the 1902 trials, the shorter blade was accepted and designated the 1903, the blade is identical to the 1888 and examples can be found with pre 1903 marked blades

1903 with Life Guards unit markings 

 

Yorkshire light Infantry stamped out and remarked to Life Guards

 

 

Scabbard throat mark has same weapon number as pommel

 

Near mint condition with all marks clearly stamped

 

1906 manufacture date

 

1903 marked scabbard

 

 

Leather frog

1903 produced using 1888 blade, with dark blued blade

 

'00 manufacture date on the 1903

UK 1903.jpg (51096 bytes)

M1903

 

1903 VOLUNTEER

1903 Volunteer, completely unmarked

 

 

1903 Volunteer scabbard, again unmarked

 

 

With internal chape

1903 Volunteer model

 

Mole made version of blade, has no acceptance or date stamps, often volunteer blades are even without makers marks

 

Grips do show Enfield inspection marks

 

Scabbard is leather covered (pig skin) wood, with copper washed locket with only single rivet (instead of normal 3)

 

Internal chape

 

FOREIGN USAGE

Many UK friendly countries used the 1888 or 1903 pattern bayonets with examples made in/for Afghanistan in both short and long blade versions. I have seen references for use by Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, India (who kept using the 1903 after the 1907 came into service preferring the shorter blade), and Turkey (1903). There is also reports of the 1903 in German use during WWI

 

AFGHANISTAN

They used not only UK produced blades but also had a short and long bladed variations these will be found with an Ornate Afghan crest on the ricasso, or unmarked and more crudely made locally made ones

Dual stamped local made 1888, note odd placing of rivets

1888 with long blade, peculiar to Afghanistan, has Afghan marking on blade and no UK markings at all. Blade has a very wide spine similar to some of the UK volunteer models and the edge is completely unsharpened. Scabbard has integral chape and frog stud on the locket.

Afghan marked 1888, probably locally made looking at quality, although better than many it still shows very obvious machining marks. There is no cleaning hole in the hilt or pommel, but crossguard is marked and there is a distinctive ricasso marking, though not he same marking as reported in Skennerton or seen on other Afghan 88's in the texts. The crudity of the manufacture is shown on the locking stud and rough grinding seen in some areas

Locally made 1888 this has a cleaning hole in the hilt, which is not very common and few have been noted, markings are limited to a scratched X on the ricasso - maybe a passing link to the UK bend mark?  Scabbard on this has had a localised repair carried out at some time in the past. Although well made it is obviously of lower quality than the UK made examples

Afghan marked 1888, probably locally made looking at quality, although better than many it still shows very obvious machining marks. There is no cleaning hole in the hilt or pommel, but crossguard is marked and there is a distinctive ricasso marking, though not he same marking as reported in Skennerton or seen on other Afghan 88's

1903, the crown over VR or ER normally seen on these has been replaced by the royal Afghan cipher. This stamping is reported on both long and short blade 1888's but never on the 1903. The blade is clearly marked as Enfield made (efd)

 

UK 1903 Volunteer with what I have take to be Afghan tang marks

 

Hilt, blade is unmarked except for writing on tang and Wilkinson London makers mark

 

 

Unknown script on tang

 

Both visible tangs are marked with different text

 

 

Wilkinson London marked

 

EGYPT

UK manufactured blades used by Egyptian units

Arabic serial on pommel of UK 1903, thought to be Egyptian

 

 

INDIA

India used the 1903 later than the UK, and delayed production of the 1907 pattern bayonet as they preferred the shorter 1903 than the longer 1907. Many 1903's were reworked and reblued and will be found marked with a crown over IS acceptance marking.

1903 in a rare Indian pattern scabbard

 

Scabbard has loops top and bottom to take straps for helve carrier

 

 

Is the 15 the manufacture date?

 

Pommel unit marks indicate bayonet was issued to Ghurkha Rifle regiment

1903 Enfield made 1903

 

FIGHTING KNIFE

Like many bayonets the 1888 and 1903 were cut down and used as fighting knives, none appear to be official and may have been made from damaged bayonets which were scrapped.

UK 1888 trench knife.jpg (41771 bytes)UK 1888 trench knife ricasso marks.jpg (134204 bytes)

1888 cut down as a fighting knife  There are large numbers of variations on this which makes me think they are locally made rather than centrally

 

Victoria stamps on 1888 fighting knife ricasso