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British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Trooper’s Sword, WW1 Army Service Corps

£700.00
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British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 2
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 3
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British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 10
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 11
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 12
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 13
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 14
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 15
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British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 17
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 18
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 19
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 20
British 1890 Pattern Cavalry Troopers Sword, Army Service Corps 21
Description

Curved, single-fullered blade, ambidextrous basket hilt with pierced Maltese Cross symbol and turned-over edges, black pressed leather grips secured by five steel rivets, brown leather washer. Overall length 39 inches (99cm), blade length 33¼ inches (84.5cm).

The spine of the blade is stamped /90, which is the pattern mark, and what looks like an inspection stamp, both somewhat worn by polishing.

The ricasso of the blade is stamped on one side with an Enfield inspection mark, ’91 and ’01 issue stamps and a Birmingham repair mark. On the other side is another Enfield inspection mark, ‘YC’ indicating issue to a Yeomanry Cavalry regiment, an ‘X’ indicating that the blade passed a manufacturer’s bending test, a broad arrow and ‘WD’.

The inside of the hilt is stamped with ‘5/10’ over ‘A.S.C’ over ‘E.M.BDE’ over ‘1’, meaning it was issued in May 1910 to the Transport and Supply Column (Army Service Corps) of the Eastern Mounted Brigade, which also included the Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex Yeomanry.

The outside of the hilt is stamped with a broad arrow and ‘WD’ next to the washer.

The exposed tang is stamped with ‘GPG’, a Birmingham repair mark, and ‘N’.

The throat of the scabbard is stamped with a broad arrow and ‘WD’. Its spine is stamped between the hanging rings with a Birmingham inspection mark, a broad arrow and ‘WD’. The fixed rings are both stamped with the maker’s mark ‘MOLE’. The chape is stamped with a Birmingham repair mark.

At some stage the original scabbard for this sword has been replaced with the scabbard from the British 1882 (Short) Pattern cavalry trooper’s sword. The 1882 scabbard was the only British model to feature two fixed rings on the trailing side, in order to hang from a belt - all later models had fixed rings opposite one another just below the scabbard throat, to hang from a frog attached to their horse’s saddle. The blade has been reduced down to 33¼ inches in order for it to fit in this scabbard: the blade of the 1882 Short variant being 33 inches long while the standard 1890 blade was 34½ inches.

The Army Service Corps (ASC) was responsible for much of the transport and logistics of the British Army, supplying food, water, fuel, clothing and other domestic goods, as well as some technical equipment. Supplying armaments was the responsibility of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. It was formed in 1888 out of the Commissariat and Transport Department, plus the War Department Fleet and some transport elements from the Royal Engineers. It was the only support unit of the Army whose personnel were considered combatants and compensated as such. For its service during WW1 the ASC was awarded the ‘Royal’ prefix. In 1965 it was merged with more transport groups of the Royal Engineers to form the Royal Corps of Transport, then in 1993 this was merged with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps to form the modern-day Royal Logistic Corps.

In 1908 the Territorial Force was formed, a complete reorganization of the militia and yeomanry units of the British Army. The yeomanry (volunteer cavalry) was to be made up of sixteen units called Mounted Brigades. The Eastern Mounted Brigade was based at Colchester in Essex, and was composed of the three regiments of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex Yeomanry, the Essex battery of Royal Horse Artillery, a field ambulance unit from the Royal Army Medical Corps and a transport & supply column from the Army Service Corps, based at the Drill Hall on Market Road in Chelmsford, Essex. A transport and supply column was made up of 4 officers and 77 men, and this sword would have been issued to one of the 77 enlisted men.

In 1914, the Eastern Brigade was mobilized and joined the 1st Mounted Division on coastal defense. In September 1915 the brigade was dismounted and sent overseas; swords would have been withdrawn from troopers while dismounted, which might explain why this one remains in such good condition. The brigade embarked on the ocean liner Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic) which arrived in Gallipoli in October 1916.

They received around a week of instruction in trench warfare then took part in fighting in the area of Hill 60 until the Gallipoli campaign was abandoned in December. In February 1916, the brigade landed in Egypt and was absorbed into the 3rd Dismounted Brigade, part of the Western Frontier Force which fought against Ottoman-aligned Libyans in the Senussi Campaign, and defended the Suez Canal from Ottoman raids. In January 1917, the brigade was again reorganized, redesignated the 230th Brigade, and fought in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, including the Second and Third Battles of Gaza, the capture of Jerusalem and the Battle of Tell 'Asur in March 1918.

It returned to Europe at the end of April and fought on the Western Front in the Hundred Days Offensive including the Second Battle of the Somme and the Hindenburg Line. In October and November 1918 it took part in the final advance in Artois and Flanders. Upon the Armistice it was situated near Tournai, Belgium and after some railway repair work was disbanded in 1919.

Support units commonly used older models of equipment handed down to them from frontline units or left in stores as surplus, and tended to hang on to equipment for as long as possible while it was still serviceable. Replacing a lost or damaged scabbard with an old but still functional equivalent rather than throwing away a good sword would be quite logical, and might have been done by a regimental armourer. Alternatively, this replacement might have been done as part of the factory repair at Birmingham which is marked on both sword and scabbard – if damage occurred after 1908 there would have been no newly-produced scabbards that would have fitted. Or indeed, the man carrying this example might have just needed to hang it from a belt for some reason, and made the necessary changes. This is all assuming, of course, that the replacement is a period modification and not a more modern one, which it is impossible to prove.

It is very unusual to find an 1890 Pattern still in service as late as 1910 (having been superseded twice by the 1899 and then the 1908 Patterns), and this example is very likely to have seen usage in the First World War, unless the ASC received new weapons between 1910 and 1914.

The blade has a polished finish and has been made very sharp along its whole edge. This edge has small chips and nicks at several points, none very deep. The shortened blade has been re-profiled, and there are some visible grinding marks as a result. The hilt is overall bright with a few areas of minor patination, like the inside of the hilt. The scabbard is similar to the hilt with a few small dents. The leather grips are lightly used and retain almost all of their chequering, with a couple of small dents/scrapes.

 

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