British WW1 1895 Pattern Scots Guards Officer's Sword, d1917
Straight spear-pointed picquet weight blade with central fuller. Pierced steel hilt of ‘Gothic’ style with inset regimental badge of the Scots derived from the badge of the Order of the Thistle: a St Andrew's cross overlying a multi-rayed star with a central circlet bearing the motto of the Stuarts ‘Nemo Me Impune Lacessit’ (No one provokes me with impunity) enclosing a thistle. Steel ferrule, chequered backstrap and oval pommel cap. Wire-bound shagreen grip. Steel parade scabbard with two hanging rings, and brown leather field scabbard with steel throat piece. The metal parts of the hilt and scabbards have all been nickel-plated.
The blade is etched on both sides with the royal crown and cypher of George V, the badge of the Scots, a wreath of laurel and palm, and most prominently the battle honours of the Scots Guards within scrollwork, from Namur 1695 to South Africa 1899–1902, and the royal coat of arms above the retailer’s name, ‘Henry Wilkinson / Pall Mall / London’. There is a space for the optional etching of the owner’s initials, blank on this example. It has no brass proof slug, instead being etched with a stylised ‘W’ inside a six-pointed star. The spine of the blade is stamped with the Wilkinson serial number ‘54680’, which indicates that it was made in the year 1917, and etched with the words ‘London Made’ within a square panel.
The Scots Guards need little introduction, tracing their heritage back to the Marquis of Argyll's Royal Regiment, raised in the Kingdom of Scotland in 1642, which became the Lyfe Guard of Foot under King Charles II of Scotland. When Charles II regained his father’s lost throne in 1660 the regiment was reformed as the Scottish Regiment of Foot Guards, and became part of the English Army in 1686, serving in every major British conflict since. William IV renamed it the Scots Fusilier Guards in 1831, and Queen Victoria shortened this to simply the Scots Guards in 1877.
At the outbreak of WW1, the 1st Battalion arrived in France as part of the B.E.F. in August 1914, taking part in the Battle of Mons, the First Battle of the Marne and the Battle of the Aisne in quick succession. The 2nd Battalion arrived in October and both fought at Ypres and Aubers Ridge, in different divisions. In August 1915 all the Guards battalions were drawn together into a new Guards Division, the 1st Scots becoming part of the 2nd Guards Brigade and the 2nd Scots joining the 3rd Guards Brigade. Thus united the Guards continued to fight on the Western Front until the end of the war, including the Battle of Loos, the Somme (including the minor Battle of Flers–Courcelette, which saw the first use of tanks in warfare), Passchendaele, Cambrai and the Second Battle of the Somme. Over the course of the conflict the Scots gained thirty-three battle honours, and five of their number were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry.
Given the date of this sword’s production, it is likely to have belonged to an officer recruited during the war to replace the often heavy casualties of the officer corps, rather than a career officer from before the conflict. You may wish to research this sword’s owner further – Wilkinson’s purchase records survive in private hands and can be consulted for a fee, although the recording becomes patchy during war years.
The nickel plating of the hilt is generally excellent, with noticeable losses only on the inside of the guard under the regimental badge, where you would expect it to rub against the holder’s hand. The blade is generally excellent with only tiny spots of wear to its mirror-finish plating, except at the very base of the forte of the blade on each side, where probably due to the greater rubbing of the blade against the scabbard in this area when sheathing and drawing, there are dark spots of exposed patinated steel. The shagreen of the grip is very good with only a few small spots of rubbing and no holes, the wire binding of the grip is all present with only slight movement to the loops.