British WW1 1888 Pattern Bayonet, 6th Battalion The Welsh Regiment (Glamorgan Battalion)
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 II pattern scabbard with steel throat and leather chape.
The blade is stamped on one side of the ricasso with a (faint) crown over ‘VR’, the production date of ‘9 ’97’, meaning September 1897, and the maker’s mark ‘Wilkinson London’. On the other side it is stamped with a broad arrow meaning War Department property, a crown inspection mark with ‘W’ for Wilkinson and an ‘X’ which indicates that the blade passed a manufacturer’s bending test. The spine of the blade is stamped with two further crown inspection marks with ‘W’.
The pommel is stamped with the unit mark ‘6. WEL’, indicating the Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey) and the number ‘735’. The exposed tang is stamped with ‘2’.
The throat of the scabbard is stamped on each side of the mouth with a broad arrow, and with the serial number ‘160’. The scabbard leather is stamped next to the seam on one side with a broad arrow, the production date ’03 and indistinct marks, probably a crown inspection mark.
The 3rd Glamorganshire Rifle Volunteer Corps (Swansea Rifles) was formed in 1859, as part of the widespread Volunteer Movement of the period. As a Volunteer unit it went through many administrative changes but no deployment until the Second Boer War, when it contributed a detachment of volunteers to serve overseas. These men earned the unit’s first battle honour ‘South Africa 1900–1902’.
In 1908 the Haldane Reforms brought Volunteer units into the new Territorial Force and linked them to regular regiments – the Swansea Rifles therefore became the 6th (Glamorgan) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment, still headquartered at Swansea and forming part of the Territorial Force’s South Wales Brigade. The Welsh Regiment had been formed in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms, amalgamating the 41st (Welch) and 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiments of Foot.
On the outbreak of WW1 the battalion volunteered for overseas service and landed in France in October 1914. Territorial battalions were typically deployed still carrying the Lee Metford rifle and 1888 Pattern bayonet, supplies of the Lee Enfield being limited. The 6th Battalion initially served on the lines of communication rather than on the front lines, but attrition caused Territorial battalions to be used in 1915 to reinforce regular brigades. The 6th Battalion (technically the 1/6th by this stage as a replacement 2/6th Battalion was formed as a second line unit in December 1914) therefore joined the 84th Brigade (28th Division), reinforcing the 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment, with which it fought in the Battle of Loos.
In 1916 the 6th was moved to the 1st Division, serving as their Pioneer Battalion. In this role it would contribute working parties to assist the division’s complement of Royal Engineers with their various field tasks, but retained a supporting combat role and would take part in offensives. 1st Division took part in many further actions until the end of the war including the Battle of the Somme, Third Battle of Ypres and the Hundred Days Offensive.
The 6th Battalion reformed after WW1 as a Territorial Army unit, absorbing the 7th Battalion. With a growing emphasis on air warfare, the battalion became the 67th Searchlight Regiment in 1938. During WW2 it defended the industrial areas of South Wales against early small-scale Luftwaffe bombing raids, then deployed to protect Cardiff against much larger raids during the Blitz. In 1940 searchlight units were brought under the Royal Artillery, and the battalion remained with the Artillery even after the war. After several amalgamations, the lineage of the original Glamorgan Battalion is today maintained by 211 (South Wales) Battery of 104th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Welsh and Borderer Gunners), an Army Reserve light artillery unit.
The blade has some light speckled patination. The tip of the blade has been shortened, possibly by breakage while in use, and has been reshaped and resharpened, with visible grinding marks. There are some minor nicks to the edge and the faint crown mark suggests that the blade may have been repolished above the shoulder. The wood grips have some light dents. The hilt and pommel have some patination and pitting. The throat piece of the scabbard has pitting and patches of dark patination. The leather of the scabbard has some rubbing and denting, one small spot of green paint, and one notch on the reverse side. The chape end of the scabbard is slightly kinked, but does not interfere with sheathing and drawing.