Canadian Mark I (Pattern 1908) Ross Bayonet
Mark I unfullered, hollow-ground blade with broad point. Steel cross hilt with stepped muzzle ring, steel pommel with locking button. Wood slab grips attached to the exposed tang by two screws. Brown leather scabbard with steel throat and button chape, leather stapled frog.
The pommel is stamped on the locking button side with a broad arrow within a ‘C’, a crown inspection stamp, ‘08’, indicating that it is a Mark I, ‘5-10’, indicating that it was manufactured in May 1910. The other side of the pommel is stamped with the maker’s mark ‘ROSS RIFLE CO. QUEBEC PATENTED 1907’. The exposed tang is stamped on one side with ’48. 212. 7.10’ which I am unsure of the meaning of, and on the other side with two crown inspection stamps. The grips are stamped on one side between the screws with another inspection stamp, and ’48-H’ in large type. The grip on the other side is stamped between the screws with an inspection stamp and ‘E640’. The blade is unmarked. The scabbard leather is stamped next to the seam near the chape end with another broad arrow within a ‘C’, what looks like ‘RRC’, possibly a maker’s mark, and the year of manufacture ‘1909’. The steel throat piece of the scabbard is stamped around the mouth with ‘48’, ‘208’, an inspection stamp and ‘2/12’.
The Ross rifle was Canada’s first domestically produced military rifle, and the first trials bayonets for it were produced in 1907. After a testing process the result was a sealed pattern announced in the List of Changes in 1909, referred to as the Pattern 1908 bayonet. 52,000 bayonets matching this pattern were ordered to be produced over three years. The pattern was then revised in 1912 introducing a Mark II bayonet for the Ross, the original ‘Pattern 1908’ therefore retroactively becoming the Mark I.
The Mark I Ross bayonet can be easily distinguished from the more common Mark II by its stepped muzzle ring, within which is contained a split ring that aids a positive fit to the muzzle. Its blade was unpolished and of the original shape - a more acute point would be added to the Mark II in 1915 for better penetration.
The Ross rifle was used during WW1 by Canadian troops but underperformed on the battlefield and was withdrawn in 1916 in favour of the Lee Enfield. Most were placed in store or used for training, while 20,000 were sold to the United States in 1917, all paired with Mark I bayonets. The Americans too mainly used them as training rifles until enough Springfield rifles became available. During WW2 Canada sent thousands of stored Ross rifles to the UK where they were issued to the British Home Guard. A few Ross bayonets were used by the SAS to fit Thompson submachine guns.