British 1888 Pattern Bayonet, Queen’s Regiment (Royal West Surrey)
Unfullered spear pointed blade, wood scale grips with two brass rivets. Steel pommel and hilt with short quillon and muzzle ring. No scabbard.
The blade is stamped on one side of the ricasso with a crowned ‘V.R.’ over a production date of ‘6 ’90’, meaning June 1890, as well as reissue stamps ’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’04 and ’05, plus one indistinct date, six crown inspection marks with ‘E’ for the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield and one crown inspection mark with ‘B’ for Birmingham. On the other side it is stamped with a broad arrow and ‘WD’, meaning War Department property, another crown inspection mark with ‘E’ and an ‘X’ which indicates that the blade passed a manufacturer’s bending test. The spine of the blade is stamped with a further Enfield crown inspection mark.
The pommel is stamped with the unit mark ‘W. SR.’, indicating the Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey) the number ‘428’ and the cancelled number ‘523’. The exposed tang is stamped with ‘X’ and another crown inspection mark with ‘M’.
The Queen’s Royal Regiment was originally raised in 1661 as the Tangier Regiment – it spent the first 23 years of its existence garrisoning the port of Tangier in what is now Morocco, gained by the Kingdom of England through the marriage of Princess Catherine of Portugal to King Charles II. While potentially a valuable naval asset, Tangier was underdeveloped, constantly threatened and very expensive to maintain. When a domestic crisis caused Parliament to refuse new taxes, Tangier had to be abandoned. The regiment was withdrawn to England in 1684 and was renamed the Queen’s Regiment in honour of Catherine. It was (much later) awarded the battle honour ‘Tangier 1662-80’, which is the oldest commemorated action in the British Army.
When regiments were numbered by precedence in 1727 it was ranked the 2nd Regiment of Foot. It received a county association for the first time in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms, becoming the county regiment of West Surrey and being renamed The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.
This bayonet seems to have had an active service life from its stamping but not knowing which battalion of the regiment it went to its history could be very different: the 1st Battalion was stationed in India from 1902 and took part in the Tirah Campaign (or Tirah Expedition) into the Khyber region, while the 2nd Battalion was deployed and heavily engaged in the Second Boer War from 1899-1904, fighting in almost every battle leading up to the relief of Ladysmith and numerous actions following in the Transvaal and Orange River.
The regiment’s name was slightly altered in 1921 to read The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey), commonly abbreviated to the ‘QRR’. In 1959 it was amalgamated with the East Surrey Regiment to form the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment, then in 1966 this was amalgamated with several others to form the Queen's Regiment. In 1992 this amalgamated with the Royal Hampshire Regiment to form the modern Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.
The blade has no edge damage, one small patch of pitting to the edge. Some light scratching towards the point, small patches of light patination towards the forte. The wood grips have some light dents. The hilt has some light patination in places. The tang and pommel retain some original dark finish. Some denting and light scratching to the pommel.