British Boer War 1888 Pattern Bayonet, 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Unfullered spear pointed blade, wood scale grips with two brass rivets. Steel pommel and hilt with short quillon and muzzle ring. Black leather Land Mk I pattern scabbard with steel throat and chape.
The blade is stamped on one side of the ricasso with a a crowned ‘V.R.’ over a production date of ‘9 ’90’, meaning September 1890, as well as reissue stamps ’95, ’96 and ‘99, and four crown inspection marks with ‘B’ for Birmingham. On the other side it is stamped with a broad arrow and ‘WD’ meaning War Department property, a crown inspection mark with ‘W’ for Wilkinson, two ‘X’ marks which indicates that the blade passed a manufacturer’s bending test and a mirrored letter ‘R’, which is a condemnation mark indicating the equipment was deemed no longer fit for service. The spine of the blade is stamped with a faint crown inspection mark with ‘W’.
The pommel is stamped with the unit mark ‘2. DVN’, indicating the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment and the number ‘1_8’ (centre digit obscured by a dent).
The throat piece of the scabbard is stamped on one side of the mouth with ‘4’, and next to the staple on one side with a crown inspection mark with ‘E’ for the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, and on the other side with ‘7’. The scabbard leather is stamped next to the seam on one side with another broad arrow and ‘WD’, another crown inspection mark with ‘E’, and the production date ’95.
Several short-lived infantry regiments were raised by Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort from 1667 onwards - only the Beaufort Musketeers, formed in 1685 against the Monmouth Rebellion, became established and became the 11th Foot in 1751, later given the county association of North Devonshire. A second battalion was formed in 1809 and it became the Devonshire Regiment in the reforms of 1881.
The 2nd battalion served in Burma in 1890, where contemporary photographs show the regiment still carrying the Martini Henry rifle. It then moved to Egypt and returned to England in 1893, whereupon it would have been re-equipped with the new Lee Metford rifle and bayonet. It deployed to South Africa in November 1899 for the Second Boer War, where it served with distinction as part of the 2nd Brigade at several major battles, including Colenso, Spion Kop, Vaal Krantz and Monte Cristo, returning to England in 1903.
During WW1 the 2nd Battalion served on the Western Front. The battalion as a unit was awarded the unique battle honour ‘Bois des Buttes’, and was the first British unit ever to be awarded the French Croix de Guerre, for a defensive action in May 1918 that significantly disrupted an otherwise successful German offensive. It fought in Malta, Italy and the Battle of Normandy. The 2nd battalion was disbanded in 1948 – the remaining battalion of the Devonshire Regiment was amalgamated with the Dorset Regiment in 1958 to form the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, which was merged with the other three regiments of the Light Division to form The Rifles in 2007. Its lineage is maintained by 1st Battalion, The Rifles.
The blade is bright with some nicks to its lower edge and a rounded tip (<1mm). The wood grips have some denting, one chip and some diagonal marks that may be deliberate scoring. The hilt and pommel have some denting and light pitting. The throat piece of the scabbard has some small areas of patination, the chape piece has some patination and light scratches. The leather of the scabbard has some light rubbing and small scrapes to the front face.