French M1916 WW1 ‘Vengeur’ Fighting Knife / Trench Knife
Turned wood grip, steel cross hilt. Scabbard of sheet steel with steel belt loop.
This example is prototypic in that its ricasso is stamped ‘Le Vengeur de 1870’, meaning ‘The Avenger of 1870’. This refers to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, in which the French were badly defeated and lost their territories of Alsace and Lorraine to the Prussians. Memories of this humiliation were clearly still strong in the minds of French soldiers once again defending against German invasion. The other side of the ricasso is stamped with 'M'.
Interestingly, the blades on these knives are identical to those used on French-made versions of the US Mark I 1918 trench knife. It is likely that French manufacturers produced both types in parallel.
The blade has been slightly shortened, perhaps due to a breakage at the tip.