British 1905 Pattern Infantry Staff Sergeant’s Sword by Enfield, George V Rehilt and Conversion
Straight single-fullered spear-pointed blade. Pierced hilt similar in form to the 1897 pattern infantry model, with pierced decoration including the crown and cypher of King George V. Fully chequered backstrap, integral oval pommel with tang button. Wire-bound shagreen grip, brown leather washer. Blade length 32¼ inches, 38 inches overall. Nickel-plated steel infantry parade scabbard with two hanging rings.
The blade is stamped at the forte on one side with a broad arrow, indicating War Department property, the maker’s mark ‘EFD’, indicating the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, a crown inspection stamp with ‘E’ for Enfield and an ‘X’ indicating that the blade passed a manufacturer’s bending test. It is stamped on the other side with two further crown inspection stamps for Enfield, the manufacture date ’00, and issue stamps ’01 and ’03.
What sets this sword apart is its blade, which on close inspection is not the symmetrical infantry officer’s model introduced in 1892. Its fuller is wider and runs more along one edge of the blade. Rather than tapering as the blade does it remains about as wide, taking up almost the full width of the blade by the end of the fuller. This suggests that it is in fact not an infantry blade at all, but a modified 1899 Pattern cavalry trooper’s sword blade. Surplus cavalry blades of this pattern were used to manufacture the 1905 Pattern staff sergeant’s sword, an uncommon type which is thought to have been brough in to replace swords lost in the Boer War without too much expenditure. Unlike officers who privately purchased and owned their own swords, staff sergeants were issued their swords from regimental stores like a musket or bayonet, and the swords remained government property.
In 1912 both the 1898 and 1905 Pattern staff sergeant’s swords were officially rehilted to replace the old royal cypher with the new one of King George V. This sword may be one of these modified examples, although its modifications have gone much further than rehilting. The blade has been shortened and narrowed (1 inch wide at the shoulder and 5/8 of an inch at the end of the fuller), with material removed from the belly and the false edge. The spine has been slightly narrowed and rounded. This has entirely removed the cutting edges, and a new thinner spear point has been created and profiled, although not sharpened.
The overall effect is to bring the blade closer to that of the infantry sword, to such an extent that it now fits in an infantry officer’s scabbard. This version would certainly have stood out less on parade than the larger scabbard which had to be made for the 1905 Pattern. The issue stamps seen on the blade match those seen on 1899 Pattern swords and suggest that the blade might have seen some use before being used in the conversion – with the degree of modification even a damaged or training-purpose cavalry blade could have been used.
The blade is bright with only very light patination in places and a polished finish. The hilt is undamaged with a light patina. The shagreen of the grip is all intact with very little handling wear, the wire binding is all present with very slight movement to the loops. The ferrule can shift slightly side to side with pressure – I suspect as a result of the conversion the tang is not quite the right thickness. The scabbard is bright, free of dents with only a few tiny areas of wear to the plating.